Springfield & Central Illinois African American History Museum | Springfield, Illinois | Visit Springfield

Springfield & Central Illinois African American History Museum

1440 Monument Ave. Springfield, Illinois 62702

Tuesday - Saturday: 10 am - 4 pm


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We will tell authentic stories about African-American life in Central Illinois, past and present, celebrating and sharing our history and culture and planning for our future.

For more Springfield Black History, read our blog by clicking here.


Join us this summer as African American History Comes to life. As part of the 12th Annual History Comes Alive program, you will hear about the history, lives and contributions of African Americans that you may not be aware of.  Learn and speak to professional first-person interpreters who take on the persona of a historical figure, speaking and dressing as if they are really that person.

All presentations begin at 1:30 pm at the Springfield & Central Illinois African American History Museum. Please call the Museum to make a reservation since space will be limited to 60% capacity.

June 5: Why Study African American History w/ Kathryn Harris, James Lewis & Nell: Kathryn Harris - Ever since our ancestors were brought to these shores against their will, we have demonstrated our knowledge, strength and resilience in spite of enslavement, segregation, miscegenation and Jim Crow, we have persisted and survive.  Come and learn about our who, where, why and when of our story because AA history is AMERICA’S History.
Jim Lewis - Former civil rights worker and civil rights lawyer (Mississippi, 1965-1973), former United States Attorney here (2010-2016), and always an amateur historian, will address this question:  "Why History, Why African American History?
Nell Clay: Providing information on the many contributions African Americans have made to this country.  For this presentation she will concentrate on inventions created by African Americans that we use on a regular basis.

June 12: Negro Baseball League Exhibit w/ Carolyn Farrar: Carolyn Farrar will provide an overview of the Negro Leagues Exhibit, Beisbol, scheduled for the AAHM September 4-October 30, 2021. The exhibit is a history of the Negro Leagues and explores its connection to Hispanic countries and cultures.  A short film will be included.
June 19: Juneteenth Experience: News of the Emancipation Proclamation arrived in Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865 nearly two years after its 1863 enactment.  The day is more than a day of parades, BBQs, and family gatherings but rather it is a day to reflect on our achievements and accomplishments in this nation.  There will be an exhibit with handouts about Juneteenth.

June 26: Veronica Betts as Rebecca Woods: First-person impersonator, Veronica Betts, will  portray Rebecca Woods – showing how this child slave became a servant of the Ridgley Family of Springfield, IL.

*July 3: No presentation 

July 10: Patricia James Davis as Nance Legins Costley: This is my story, I am a women of color, born into slavery, yet I know in my heart and soul that I am just as free as any other person who is not of color.  I patiently fought and long waited for this legal entitlement of a freed person over many years and finally with the strong will of Abraham Lincoln got it.  Now all of my children are born free.

July 17: Conversations with a Civil Rights Soldier w/ Robert Davis: Mr. Davis as Pvt. Andrew Lewis, a run-away slave that joined the Union Army and fought in the Civil War as a member of the IL 29th Inf. United States Colored Troops.  He along with approximately 210,000 other colored soldiers and sailors fought under our American Flag for Union and freedom." {R.D.}   Incidentally, Private Lewis is buried in the Historic Colored Section at Oak Ridge Cemetery. 

July 24: African American Marshalls w/ Robert Moore: Robert Moore will discuss the history of Black Marshalls, beginning with the 1st Black Marshall, Bass Reeves.  He will also discuss the trials and contributions of Black Marshalls.

July 31: Springfield 1908 Race Riot with Beverly Peters: Beverly Peters will tell the true story of the Springfield, Illinois Race Riot when a white mob hastily and violently reacted to the lie that a White woman had been assaulted by a Black man.

August 7: Civil Rights Laws - Jim Lewis: Jim Lewis, former civil rights worker and civil rights attorney in Mississippi (1966-1973) and former United States Attorney here (2010-2016), will speak on the history, meaning and impact of our country's civil rights laws--in healing our country's divisions based on race. 

Upcoming Events at  Springfield & Central Illinois African American History Museum