Black Organizing in Pre-Civil War Illinois: Creating Community, Demanding Justice

African American Churches of Illinois
Images left to right: Wayman A.M.E. Church in Bloomington, IL, founded circa 1846, building completed in 1859, and expanded in 1871 (Source: Courtesy of McLean County Museum of History, Presence, Pride, and Passion: A History of African Americans in McLean County [2009], 17); Sketch of Union Baptist Church, Alton, Illinois (Source: Courtesy of Madison County Historical Society [IL], Johnson, Charlotte. African Americans in Madison County, Illinois. 2001.); Union Baptist Church, Springfield, Illinois (Source: Courtesy of McLean County Historical Society, Pictorial Souvenir Central Illinois 1912, 27).

Black political mobilization began in communities and was shaped by local opportunities and challenges. African American residents of Illinois built churches and schools to bolster their communities, and those institutions became a foundation for abolitionist and civil rights organizing.

Founding Independent Churches

Women’s Organizing

Establishing Schools

Petitioning for Justice in Public Education