Governors State ended Black History Month with ceremonial groundbreaking

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Governors State
Illinois Black Hall of Fame inductees and guests raised a glass to close out Black History Month at Governors State University. (Photo provided)
Information provided by Governors State University

UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. (March 7, 2022) – On a cold, sunny afternoon in late February, inductees of the Illinois Black Hall of Fame (IBHOF) and their loved ones gathered with state and local VIPs to celebrate Black excellence with a ceremonial groundbreaking at Governors State University.

Amongst artwork and architecture, attendees watched a 2021 IBHOF induction video, which featured each of the first five inductees into Governors State University’s cultural showcase: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Timuel Black, Bessie Coleman, Harold Washington, and Spencer Leak, Sr.

The physical showcase, which is slated for completion in June, will honor additional African American heroes as they are selected by the IBHOF, launched in 2021 to highlight the achievements of pioneers.

After thanking Alumna Ceola Davis Barnes (’75), who received her master’s degree in Urban Teacher Education and who made the Illinois Black Hall of Fame possible, GSU President Dr. Cheryl Green acknowledged the lives and legacies of the five inductees, who she said “changed the status quo.”

“These historians, activists, entrepreneurs, visionaries, refused to conform to the mold society caste for them as African Americans. In pursuing excellence in their respective fields, they blazed new trails and inspired generations to dream,” she said, adding that to recognize these individuals and others will serve as “a constant reminder to all students, faculty and staff, that here they are part of a rich legacy.”

“Once this museum gets in place, you will see more foot traffic at Governors State, you will see more young people coming to (GSU) and you will see more young people inspired by all of those being inducted into the IBHOF,” said Attorney Richard Boykin, the IBHOF Chairman. “Those young people will then take the reins of leadership and help to push us into the next phase we need to go in, in order to become a more perfect union.”

U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly and Congressman Danny Davis, honorary Co-chairs of the IBHOF, offered their apologies for not being present for the event. Kelly phoned in and called the groundbreaking “a momentous occasion” for the South Suburbs and for GSU.

“This is history,” said Kelly, “Black history is American history.”

At the close of the event, inductees and guests participated in a toast. Each standing with a champagne flute in hand, they lifted a glass (of nonalcoholic variety) and their voices in chorus to praise ‘Black excellence.’

A Juneteenth gala will be held June 19, 2022, at Governors State to induct the 2022 class into the Illinois Black Hall of Fame.

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