Rockford Poet Reflects On Recent Protests

Jun 5, 2020

Christopher D. Sims is an African American poet and human rights activist in the Rockford area. He was featured in WNIJ’s “State of the Artist” podcast last year.

Christopher D. Sims at the May 30th march.
Credit Denezz Hyphenx Cochran

Sims said these protests, which were sparked by George Floyd’s death, have been different from demonstrations he’s attended in the past. For one, he said, more young people took part.

“But the young people are just as heartbroken and angry, as all of us, any of us in this country,” he said.

He said he is proud of the Rockford Youth Activism group for organizing Tuesday’s protest at Haskell Park.

Sims also said the gathering was diverse. He said it felt good to see non-African American individuals speak out.

“I feel very encouraged because a lot of my white accomplices are rooting for not only myself,” he said. “But black men across the world and especially in this country.”

But, Sims said he wants to see more whites in leadership taking part.

Sims has lived in Rockford all of his life. He said he’s never had any altercations with the Rockford police.

But he said he has been pulled over and he believes race was a factor.

Sims said he is not fearful, but he is heartbroken. He said the repeated attention on his black skin is stressful.  

Sims admits that he is leaning into his poetry during this time. He said his writings echo the conditions of African Americans in this country.

Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.