David Inge talks with the all-time Illinois leader in men's basketball victories.
Host Rick Atterberry, host of WILL-TV's Illinois Pioneers, talks to News-Gazette sports writer Fred Kroner and Champaign Central High School athletic director John Woods about the history of Champaign high school athletics, primarily the 1940s, and the legendary coaches and team members who were a part of that championship era.
WILL-TV’s Illinois Pioneers looks at African-American history in Champaign, Ill., through the eyes of Estella Merrifield and Hester Suggs, sisters and members of the Nelson family, one of the earliest African-American families in the city. Through their memories and photos, the program chronicles a portion of history from the Civil War through the Civil Rights protests of the late 1960s.
They talk about their grandfather, Joseph Nelson, who around 1900 was one of the first African Americans in the Champaign County Sheriff’s Department, and describe the importance of organizations such as the American Legion in the lives of African-American residents. Churches, such as Salem Baptist and Bethel AME, were all-important as well, they said.
Historian and former Champaign mayor Dan McCollum discusses the arrival of the Illinois Central Railroad in 1854. The town that grew up around the tracks originally was called West Urbana. It was renamed Champaign after the town took action to acquire a city charter in 1860. The city and county names were derived from Champaign County, Ohio. About 10,000 men worked at any one time on the rail line. The depot, called Urbana Station, was built in time for the first train to arrive July 24, 1854.