January 30, 2018

Duckworth to Host Cairo High School Principal at 2018 State of the Union Address


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) will host Cairo Junior/Senior High School Principal Lisa Childs Thomas as her guest for the 2018 State of the Union Address from the President. A native of Cairo, Illinois, Lisa grew up in Alexander County Housing Authority’s McBride public housing complex, which the Trump Administration chose to shutter without any clear plan to rehouse hundreds of Illinoisans who will be displaced. She then went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southern Illinois University and recently returned home to help educate young people in her community. A photo of Duckworth and Thomas at a meeting in Cairo last year is available here.

"Lisa is a tireless advocate for Cairo, and she represents countless other Americans working to improve their communities with limited resources and support,” Duckworth said. “Donald Trump promised hardworking Americans exactly like Lisa that he would invest in and help rebuild communities exactly like hers. More than one year into office, we’ve seen little investment from his Administration—and its decision to tear down McBride and Elmwood is literally the opposite of what he promised. I hope Trump finally remembers one of his many broken promises tonight and actually does something to help families like Lisa’s.”

Dr. Thomas is a career-educator, who is committed to ensuring her students get the education they need and deserve. She has served as Cairo Junior/Senior High School Principal since 2016.

“I became principal at my old high school as a way to help my community, because ordinary Americans can make it if we help them,” Thomas said. “Mr. Trump made a promise to improve the lives of ordinary Americans like me, my family and my students in rural communities like mine, but when he won he went back on his word. Maybe he’ll have a change of heart tonight.”

Since being sworn into the Senate in 2017, Duckworth has worked to address the challenges faced by residents of the Elmwood and McBride housing developments, hold those responsible for the crisis accountable and improve the Cairo economy.

Last year, Duckworth visited Cairo to meet with local officials, tour the city and hear directly from residents. Senators Duckworth and Durbin then met with HUD Secretary Carson in Washington, where they secured several commitments from the secretary on behalf of the residents. These commitments included Secretary Carson’s trip to Cairo, where Duckworth joined him and reiterated the tenants’ desire to stay there. The details are outlined in a letter that is available here.

In September, Senators Duckworth and Durbin asked President Trump to form a Cabinet-level task force to address the housing, health and economic crises in Cairo, Illinois. In calling for the new task force focused on Cairo, the Senators highlighted that because the Federal government played a significant role in the city's economic decline, it should also play an active role in its revival and recovery.