EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Volunteers on Saturday cleaned up 89 blocks of East St. Louis streets in honor of Earth Day.
The city joined together with Empire 13 and local community organizations for the clean up. Their goal? To have State Street, a main east-west thoroughfare in the city, completely free of trash for the first time in decades.
The street clean up comes as part of Empire 13's Boots to the Streets campaign, which addresses racial and social issues related to discrimination in Black communities. Empire 13 is a grassroots organization of Black workers who work to fight racism in the workplace.
East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III and many others from the Metro East community participated in the event.
“It not only inspires hope, it ends the 'culture of poverty' mentality,” said J. D. Dixon, the founder of Empire 13. “When you see trash it makes you feel down. What can you do if this is where you live at and this is the area that you are in?”
Eastern expressed his gratitude.
"I'm very grateful to Empire 13, Community Lifeline and the consortium of organizations coming together to help us with this citywide cleanup covering all of State Street.
"In this way, the City of East St. Louis and the community are truly coming together to show what the power of the people can accomplish needed change for our earth and community."