2023 Black History Events in Central Illinois


The colors represent unity and strength within the African diaspora. Photo via Bing.

Darrius Frazier, Archivist

Since 1976, leading up to America’s Bi-Centennial Anniversary, President Gerald Ford proclaimed February as Black History Month when he urged all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” 


Prior to that, from 1926-1975, February was known as Negro History Week, founded by historian and scholar, Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Woodson, who was the founder of the Association for the Study and of Afro-American Life and History, has been known by many historians as ‘The Father of Black History Month,’ designated the second week in February to coincide with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas to highlight the contributions African-Americans have made to this country. 


The first instance of Black History Month being a month-long affair was in 1970 when Kent State University (KSU) in Ohio celebrated Black History from Jan 2 to Feb 28 of that year and was organized by African-American educators in Ohio as well as students, faculty and staff at KSU. Since then, a great number of educational institutions, including schools, museums and libraries, celebrated February as a month-long affair.


Below are the different events regarding Black History Month held in Coles County along with the rest of Central Illinois. Most events will be held at either Lake Land College (LLC) or Eastern Illinois University, unless otherwise noted. Moreover, remember, every month is Black History Month.


Events held outside Coles County


Route History Museum

737 E. Cook St.

Springfield, IL 62703

Phone: 217-503-4129

E-mail[email protected]

Special Exhibit

Open by Appointment


The Springfield museum Route History is home to an interactive outdoor exhibit highlighting African Americans who have made a lasting impact on the community, including tributes to former local business owners.


Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum

1440 Monument Ave.

Springfield, IL 62702

Phone: (217) 391-6323

E-mail: [email protected]


Open now


Located near The Lincoln Tomb is the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum—a great destination for residents and visitors who would like to educate themselves about the African American experience through research, collections and preservation.


Museum of the Grand Prairie

950 N. Lombard St.

Mahomet, IL 61853

Phone: (217) 586-2612

E-mail: [email protected]


Virtual Exhibit


Check out two online exhibits: “This Legacy is Yours: Celebrating the Lasting Contributions of African American Women” and “This Legacy is Yours Too: Celebrating the Lasting Contributions of African American Men.” They commemorate the achievements of African Americans in Champaign County.


DIY Kids | Black History Bingo

Douglass Branch Library

504 E. Grove St.

Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: (217) 403-2090


Live Event


On Wednesday, February 1, at 4 PM, children can learn about famous people, places, and events in Black history by making their own bingo card and playing with a vibrant group at the Champaign Public Library’s event series.


McLean County Museum of History

200 N Main St.

Bloomington, IL 61701

Phone: (309) 827-0428

E-mail: [email protected]


Live Event


On Tuesday, February 7 at 7PM, all readers are welcome to join the Museum and Bloomington Public Library for the first installment of the History Reads Book Club this year. This hybrid discussion will be held in the Governor Fifer Courthouse at the Museum and online via Zoom to discuss “The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America” by Ethan Michaeli.


Geneseo Historical Museum

205 S. State St.

Geneseo, IL 61254

Phone: (309) 944-3043




Watch the narrated 3:42 YouTube video: “The Underground Railroad’s Quad Cities Area Connection,” which highlights the Quad Cities area and its connection to the Underground Railroad. The museum features actual hiding holes enslaved Blacks who decided to escape slavery by running which dates back to 1855.


Student Activity Board (SAB) Event at LLC


On Wednesday, February 22, at 11 AM in Laker Point, the SAB will host the event “So you want to talk about race.” The speaker and author of the book, Ijeoma Oluo, will examine the complex system of racism in the United States from police brutality to the school- to- prison pipeline. It offers clarity on ways we can approach conversations about race and take action against structural injustice. Free copies of the book are available at the college Library during open hours and will be held in conjunction with the SAB hosted activity, Black History Month Bingo. There are also opportunities to talk about this book with other students and faculty/staff via Campus Read Chats. 


Visit here for those upcoming dates and times: lakelandcollege.edu/diversity


Black History Events at EIU


Thursday, February 2nd  


Lecture on Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy 

Author: Dr. April Baker-Bell (Michigan State University) 

2030 Lumpkin Auditorium 3:30 – 4:45 pm  

Reception immediately follows 



Thursday, February 2nd  


Black History Game Night (Bingo) 

Housing and Dining  

Thomas Hall – 9:00 pm 



Monday, February 6th  


Sickle Cell Presentation 

Julie Bly (American Red Cross) 

Charleston-Mattoon Room (MLK Student Union)

4:00pm- 5:00 pm 



Monday, February 6th  


Two Freedoms, Cosmopolitan, Colonial: Art & Democracy in the Thought of C.L.R. James & Hannah Arendt 

By Dr. Minkah Makalani 

Doudna Fine Arts Center (Lecture Hall) – 5:30 pm 



Wednesday, February 8th  


UB Spotlight: Slam Poetry 

7th Street Underground – 7:00 pm 



Friday, February 10th  


Blood Drive 

University Ballroom (MLK Student Union)

12:00 pm – 5:00 pm 



Monday, February 13th


Black Freedom Lecture 

Dr. Alonzo Ward (Assistant Professor) 

2030 Lumpkin Auditorium (Lumpkin Hall)

4:00 pm 



Thursday, February 16th  


Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till 

Doudna Fine Arts Center / 7:30pm 

$25/$20/$15  www.doudnatix.com 



Tuesday, February 21st  


Black Resilience: Turning Degrees To Commas $$$$ 

Entrepreneur-Veronica Peterson  

1255 Coleman Hall Lecture Hall – 4:00 pm 



Wednesday, February 22nd   


Hip Hop Paint & Sip 

7th Street Underground – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm 



Thursday, February 23rd  


Study Abroad 101 “Why it is crucial for Students of Color”  

Charleston-Mattoon Room – 4:00 pm 



Saturday, February 25th 


BSU 2023 Extravaganza 

Grand Ballroom (MLK Student Union)

7:00 pm 



Monday, February 27th   


Family Feud (Black Knowledge Style) 

Grand Ballroom (MLK Student Union)

7:00 pm- 9:00 pm 

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