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Galesburg, an American crossroad, tunes out feuding Congress

Published for the Associated Press


Midway of my internship with the AP, I was assigned, alonside reporter Tom Beaumont to a small town called Galesburg where people will pretty much know you from roaming around downtown for a couple of hours. For me, it was stepping out of my comfort zone as I never lived in a small town before and never worked on a deadline where I must produce something in fours day. I had to take some portraits, shadow some notable people, and most importantly, paint the town's picture, which I have never done before.

Pickup trucks and cars rumble north across East Main Street’s railroad tracks into Galesburg, Illinois, past the red-brick Lindstrom’s appliances building that has occupied the same corner for more than 100 years.

An edifice from more prosperous days, the Orpheum Theater near the remodeled Amtrak station anchors one end of a downtown lined with banks, antique shops, eateries and empty storefronts. The bronze likeness of Galesburg’s most famous native, the poet Carl Sandburg, stands watch at the other end. A plaque commemorates the spot where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas drew thousands to their 1858 U.S. Senate campaign debate.

In this town in the heart of the Midwest, the fights in Washington seem distant. On cable TV, Democrats and Republicans feud over things like abolishing the filibuster in the Senate, creating a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol or whether Democrats should use a complicated budget process to ram through President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Words by Tom Beaumont; Photograph by Shafkat Anowar

Photo Edit by Charles Rex Arbogast, Kim Johnson Flodin and Camilla Forte Silva