The 21st Show

Faith And Black Power In Cairo, Illinois


Paul Sableman/WUIS

When thinking of the civil rights movement in America, for most of us the places that first come to mind are Selma, Little Rock, Montgomery. But the fight for equal justice came to countless towns and cities across the country, many overlooked in popular history. Among those is Cairo, at the southern tip of Illinois, seated at the crossroads of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Cairo is also considered by some to be at the center of the civil rights movement in the heartland. 

The 21st explored the struggle there with the daughter of United Front Leader Rev. Charles Koen and lifelong Cairo resident as well as the author of Faith in Black Power.


Robbie Koen, Daughter of United Front Leader Rev. Charles Koen, lifelong Cairo resident  

Kerry Pimblott, lecturer in the department International History at the University of Manchester and author of Faith in Black Power 


Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

Help shape our coverage on The 21st by joining our texting group and answering weekly questions. To join, text “TALK” to 217-803-0730 or sign up with your phone number below: