Pages From the Past: Stories from the Sunday Pantagraph
What do Adlai Stevenson, the Underground railroad, the Orphan Train movement and the old-time radio program Vic and Sade have in common?
Bill Kemp recently penned his 400th article for the Pantagraph newspaper based in Bloomington-Normal. He’s been writing about history for nearly a decade and says even though we’re in a pretty rural part of the Midwest, he’s never been at a loss for an interesting tale to describe in his history column.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with him about his book “Pages from the Past: Stories from the Sunday Pantagraph.” We’ll learn more about Adlai Stevenson II, former Governor and 1950’s democratic Presidential candidate, and we’ll talk with Kemp about his accounts of myths surrounding the Underground railroad in Central Illinois and the Orphan Train movement.
In 1963 when he made the trip from Champaign to Washington D.C., Bill Smith was 21. As an active member of the NAACP chapter at the University of Illinois, he says he remembers feeling awed and inspired by the sheer number of other people who were gathered at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Even as a high school student at Champaign Central, he says he was involved with bringing the blacks and whites together. But it was when he returned from the march that he says he was motivated to really become an agent for change.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Smith about his experience at 1963 March on Washington; his relationship with his long-time mentor Erma Bridgewater, and about the racial climate during the 1960’s in east central Illinois.
We’re also joined by Sundiata Cha-Jua, an Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign about the significance of the march in the context of the larger movement and about Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Did you know someone who marched in a protest during the 1960’s? Did you? What was it like to be a part of one? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!
This hour on Focus, we’ll take a look through into history through the lens of a camera. Maureen Holtz, author of the new book “Images of America: Monticello” joins us to talk about some of the things that make Monticello’s history so rich. We’ll talk with her about the pepsin syrup factory that earned the town the title “patent medicine capital of the world,” and how she went about compiling the town’s history dating back to the 1800’s in authentic photos.
Then during the second half of this hour on Focus, Dannel McCollum, former Mayor of Champaign and author of “Remembering Champaign County” joins us. We’ll talk with him about March Madness on campus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Benjamin Franklin Harris, entrepreneur extraordinaire. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Dannel about the county’s first convicted murderer who was defended by Abraham Lincoln.