Northwestern Prof and Evanston HS Teachers Engage Illinois Black History

Historians in the News
tags: racism, African American history, Illinois, teaching history, Black Political Convention

Three Evanston Township High School teachers have joined a national initiative to document an important but obscure piece of 19th century African American history.

ETHS history teachers Michael Pond, Yosra Yehia and Kamasi Hill heeded a call by ETHS Department Chair for History and Social Sciences Nicole Parker to participate in the Colored Conventions Project with Kate Masur, a history professor at Northwestern University. The ETHS teachers saw a chance to elevate the forgotten history of racial justice organizing in the United States.

The project, Pond explained, is to build “lesson plans to accompany original research that Masur and her graduate students at Northwestern had done into Black life in Illinois and specifically for these Illinois Colored Conventions that took place throughout the 1850s.” 

Colored Conventions are a crucial piece of American history as they were “a cornerstone of Black organizing in the 19th century,” according to the project’s website. It adds: The first convention in 1830 was “in response to Ohio’s 1829 exclusionary laws and a wave of anti-Black mob violence that had forced two thousand Black residents to flee the state. That first meeting brought Black leaders together to contest widespread discrimination against Black communities. Their gathering activated a movement.”

The national, regional and state conventions ran through the 1890s. Thirty states held conventions, more than 200 in all, in which free and free-born Black men and women met, organized and strategized about how to achieve and retain civil rights and racial justice.

Masur has been collaborating with Penn State University’s P. Gabrielle Foreman, the Paterno Family Professor of American Literature and Professor of African American Studies and History and founding director of the Colored Conventions Project, which began in 2012.

Read entire article at Evanston Round Table

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