Former Sen. Roland Burris shows his book to Kia Smith, right, a junior from Chicago studying journalism, and Rashionda Carlisle, a senior from Belleville studying social work. Burris said the reason he has passion for SIU is it gave him the tools he needed for his career, but he wants to ensure black students after him have similar opportunities. “There is racism in our society,” Burris said. “There are students living in poverty conditions and we are trying to uplift our whole race of people. Those of us that have been fortunate enough to get a college education to compete in society in spite of racism, we have to make sure that our pipe line is still there.”