I moved to Oak Park in the fall of 2013. Like most things these days, I found the village from the internet. It was touted as city-lite and a utopia of progressivism. My family is multiracial and I wanted to live somewhere where we could feel comfortable, where my kids could see faces like theirs and feel welcome.

I also came to know of Anthony Clark through the internet. One 2014 summer evening, I witnessed and learned of racist practices at a neighboring village’s bar. Management was unresponsive at the time. I was in shock and shared it with some local Facebook groups. I couldn’t see how “something like that” could happen in this area. Some people shared their own experiences, but a lot of people proceeded to gaslight me and make me feel terrible for reporting. It just “couldn’t happen” in Oak Park.

I didn’t know Anthony, but he believed me. He reached out to verify my story and made me feel heard; then he took action. Within days he organized a peaceful March of hundreds through Oak Park to this place of business asking for accountability and for this business and all Oak Park businesses to take a pledge against racism. This was a few years before Trump, years before being “woke” was trendy, but he took a stand. It was my first protest. It was many people’s first opportunity to make a stand for justice. Anthony inspired people, he showed courage, and made sure that voices that were always silenced were heard. 

For this and many other instances where he has stood up for the little guy, he has my vote and support. Oak Park, we have a champion. Vote for Anthony Clark for Oak Park Village Trustee on April 6.

Pem Hessing, Oak Park

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