EDITORIAL: Continue the fight for Jelani


Submitted Photo

A body found in the Illinois River near Peru has been identified as Jelani Day, an Illinois State University graduate student who was reported missing on Aug. 25. The cause of death was determined to be drowning.

Editorial Board

It has been 63 days since Jelani Day was reported missing on Aug. 25, when he hadn’t been showing up for classes for several days.

Fifty-three days since his body was found on Sept. 4, where he was found dead in the Illinois River in LaSalle County.

Thirty-three days since his body was identified on Sept. 23, about a month after he was reported missing.

Now we know that according to the LaSalle County Coroner’s Office, Day’s death is said to have been caused by drowning, but details of his death are still unknown. We still do not know how Day ended up in the Illinois River.

Carmen Bolden Day, Jelani Day’s mother, buried him last week and is still looking for answers regarding her son’s disappearance. Since her son went missing, Day’s mother has been critical of the authorities’ efforts to find him, and later, to investigate his death.

Like his mother, many families of Black men want accountability and justice, especially considering this is not the first time in our history we have seen a case like Jelani Day’s.

People of color disappear at disproportionate rates, with Black people making up 35% of missing person reports but only 13% of the US population, according to a 2020 FBI report.

And yet, the cases of Black people going missing are not given the focus and urgency they deserve.

The frustration and pain people feel toward Jelani Day and cases like his have led to a march that was held for him Tuesday in Peru, Illinois, where Day’s body was found.

We at The Daily Eastern News support those marching for Jelani Day and hope this public outcry pushes officials to further and more thoroughly investigate Day’s death.

We also hope this will be a wake-up call to authorities everywhere that cases of Black people going missing need to be taken more seriously.

Day’s family and loved ones deserve answers, and we deserve an America that truly stands for “liberty and justice for all.”