L&C Sociology Class Presents ‘East St. Louis, Illinois: Where History, Courage and Community Meet’

Article by: Jan Dona, L&C Media Services,

GODFREY – Sandra Pfeifer, producer of the 2009 East St. Louis documentary “Against All the Odds,” joined Lewis and Clark Community College Assistant Professor of Sociology Jen Cline’s Racial and Ethnic Relations class for a presentation and interactive discussion on the 1917 East St. Louis riots, Tuesday, April 30, in L&C’s Ahlemeyer Atrium.

The 90-minute program, entitled “East St Louis, Illinois: Where History, Courage and Community Meet,” was the culmination of the class’ group project this semester.

“Each semester, the students are in charge of planning and organizing a campus event for their group project as a part of their grade for the class,” Cline said. “While we can learn in the classroom, it’s a more authentic experience to do something as a group beyond those walls, so they were very excited for the opportunity to present this free event to the public.”

The first segment highlighted clips from the film focused on the horrific events of July 2, 1917, incorporating primary sources and first-hand accounts, followed by two opportunities for audience interaction and discussion.

“It is important that we can feel a deeper sense of connection to our local history and be able to contextualize that within the larger narrative of our past, especially concerning history we don’t often like to hear about,” Cline said. “But, race and oppression have always been a part of the story. This was a unique opportunity for students, not only to hear the stories, but to feel empowered to find ways to share their own stories.”

East St. Louis is currently one of the most predominantly African American cities in the United States. In 1917, however, white residents of East St. Louis attempted to “rid the city” of its black population in one of the most violent race riots in American history.

Pfeifer has been a social issue documentary filmmaker and media artist for more than 20 years. Her work, which addresses a variety of social concerns, has been presented to audiences throughout the United States.

“Against All the Odds” has been screened at multiple film festivals across the country and has received multiple awards, including Best Feature Documentary at the Route 66 Film Festival in Springfield, Illinois.

Pfeifer also coordinates and facilitates an Illinois Humanities Illinois Speaks discussion group that meets in Vienna and Golconda.

Cline’s Racial and Ethnic Relations course is offered every spring semester, and will run from 12:15-1:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays next spring, beginning in January 2020, on the college’s Godfrey Campus.

For more information on the event or class, contact Cline at (618) 468-4762 or

Contact the Enrollment Center at (618) 468-2222 to enroll today.