Austin activist Kina Collins launched another bid for Congress on Tuesday outside of the shuttered Emmet Elementary School, 5500 W. Madison St.
Collins ran in the March 17, 2020 Democratic primary for the 7th District U.S. House seat that’s been occupied by Danny K. Davis since 1997.
Davis garnered 60 percent of the vote in a four-person race. Collins finished in second-place with roughly 14 percent of the vote, followed by candidates Anthony Clark and Kristine Schanbacher, who each garnered 13 percent of the vote.
As she gears up for another run, Collins has already gained some early headwind, having landed major endorsements and national media coverage.
“This time around, I’m coming with the Justice Democrats endorsement, so we’re uniting locally and nationally,” Collins said during an interview on May 31. “We’re going to do some aggressive fundraising and we’ll build aggressive people power. Davis has never had a serious challenger like me.”
Justice Democrats is a national progressive political action committee best known for endorsing in 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and IIhan Omar — all of whom won their respective Congressional races and have now become known collectively as “the squad.”
In the 2020 Democratic primary, Justice Democrats endorsed Clark, a well-known Oak Park activist and teacher.
Collins is also endorsed by the Women’s March Illinois and the Illinois Youth Climate Movement. Last year, she was hired as executive director of the nonprofit Gun Violence Prevention Education Center and Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.
Collins said that she decided to run again after witnessing what happened at Loretto Hospital in Austin, where hospital executives were giving vaccines meant for West Siders to people then knew outside of the community.
“To see that residents in Austin weren’t given an equitable rollout and that corruption played a really big role in who was able to get life-saving vaccines was a turning point for me,” Collins said. “I was expecting leadership. I was expecting leaders like Davis to ask for executives to step down and clean house and that wasn’t what happened.”
Collins said she also garnered resident input during a roughly month-long exploratory process, which included conversations with constituents in the 7th District.
During her press conference on June 1, Collins reintroduced herself and her biography to voters.
“I was born and raised in the South Austin neighborhood,” she said. “I’m a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter of the Great Migration. My grandparents came from the South fleeing Jim Crow laws, moved to the North for better opportunities and just found more sophisticated discrimination and racism. On the West Side of Chicago. That is the story of many Black Chicagoans.”
Collins’s race has already generated headlines in a variety of national outlets, including CNN, Fox News and Huffington Post.
She said she launched her campaign outside of Emmet to symbolize what her campaign is attempting to rectify — the corporate Democratic policies instituted by politicians like former mayor Rahm Emanuel, who closed 50 schools during his tenure.
“I am a CPS graduate,” Collins said. “To have lived through the largest public school shutdown in history was not only heartbreaking, it stunted the ability of our young people to thrive. Folks are feeling left behind.”
On June 1, Collins pointed at Emmet, saying “this is failed leadership and failed public policy,” adding that Emanuel was emboldened to close the schools because of the prevalence of charter schools, wealthy donors and because “rich people are writing our laws.”
Narrowing in on Davis, she said during the Congressman’s two decades in office, minority communities “have been left behind.”