Student Newsroom

Senior citizens celebrate Black History Month with soul food potluck


Black seniors gathered in the Douglass Annex in Champaign Friday afternoon for the 50 plus potluck event in honor of Black History Month. They listened to a presentation about Black history while eating food from Neil St. Blues. Lillie Salas

CHAMPAIGN – Around 30 Black senior citizens gathered at the Douglass Annex Friday afternoon for a soul food potluck to celebrate Black History Month

Through programming with the Champaign Park District, Black senior citizens ages 50 and up were encouraged to participate in the event with food catered by Neil St. Blues

Food and decorations at the event were tailored to the seniors in attendance, said Robert White, the adult and senior program coordinator at Douglass.

“Honestly, this is a senior program,” White said. “So, a lot of the input and everything comes from the seniors.

“For instance, the place that catered it, Neil St. Blues, that was a request from them. So, I’m really at the will of the seniors and whatever they ask for I just try to make it happen, pretty much.” 

White said his favorite part of the event was knowing that the seniors enjoyed the food. 

Throughout the potluck, a member from the Champaign County African American Heritage Trail did a presentation about the history of Douglass Park for the seniors. 

Attendee Jean Cousett said the presentation was “beautiful” and felt it was important for everyone to hear. 

“She’s doing a great demonstration on Black history,” Cousett said. “There was a lot of stuff that we weren't aware of that she's giving us a foresight on.

“She’s showing pictures and demonstrations.”

Douglass Park is a historical stop along the African American Heritage Trail and is filled with history from the Black community, according to the African American Heritage Trail’s website. 

White said it was an opportunity for seniors to remember the past and be informed about topics they were not previously aware of.

“A lot of our members are from this community, and they’re from this area,” White said. “So, it’s kind of a trip down memory lane.

“Then it also gives them an opportunity to see one of their own in action and provide information about some of the stuff they didn't know and also probably experienced themselves.” 

With the informational presentation and food, Cousett said she felt the comradery of the community at the event.

“I see that everybody bonds together and that they’re united,” she said. “They’re working together.” 

Aside from the events and programming present during Black History Month, White said he works to make sure that Black history is not forgotten or pushed aside when the attention is shifted away by the public. 

“To be real, we celebrate Black history every day, not just in February,” White said. “The majority of the population that comes to Douglass is from the Black community. 

“So, we try to celebrate with each other all the time, 24/7, 365.”