This story was originally published by WNIJ and is republished with permission.
The Mississippi River flowed lazily under the Centennial Bridge, which connects Illinois and Iowa in the Quad Cities. Cars cruised past on a Saturday afternoon in early May, waving and occasionally honking at a long line of environmentalists who say the river is alive.
Glenda Guster was among the roughly 80 people to join the Great Plains Action Society’s Walk for River Rights — the centerpiece of a three-day summit earlier this month for Black and indigenous organizers from across the Mississippi River basin, who, among other things, want to grant the river legal standing.
Like many making the march across the river, Guster, who held a sign saying “water is life” over her head, said the river needs more protection.
“The river has rights, just like human rights,” said Guster. “Nature has rights and it’s up to us to preserve these rights.”