Black History Month Display in Champaign City Building

In honor of Black History Month, the display case in the City Building atrium (102 N Neil Street, Champaign) has a local perspective this year. The faces featured in the display belong to local families who all have deep roots in Champaign. Many have memories of the days when Champaign was a segregated community and all have contributed in some way to the social, economic, and cultural life of our community. Many of those featured were successful business owners, and all contributed greatly to our wonderful city.

The pictures and captions in the display are taken from Raymond Bial’s book, “In All My Years: Portraits of Older Blacks in Champaign-Urbana”. The book’s introduction states: “We have tried to avoid a strident tone and message, not to deny the bitter legacy of the past, but to demonstrate the more positive attributes of each of the persons portrayed. These are common people, friends and neighbors, each of whom throughout their lives demonstrated a quiet heroism.” The book is available through the Champaign County Historical Museum, though supplies are very limited.

To those who went before us, who experienced discrimination in life and were then ignored in historical records, we honor and thank you for the footprints you left here in Champaign…and across our nation.