From Slave to State Legislator

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Program Type:

Online Program

Age Group:

Adult, Teens
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Program Description

From Slave to State Legislator

John W. E. Thomas was born a slave in Alabama in 1847. After migrating to Illinois after the Civil War, he became a successful teacher, attorney, and politician. Eventually, Thomas became the first African American to be elected to the Illinois General Assembly. This presentation will review Thomas' background, his historic first term in the legislature in 1877, and will also touch on the African American community in Illinois in the post-Civil War era.

Registration for this program can be completed online below, by calling 309.590.6168, or by visiting the Adult Services Desk at the Library and registering in person. As soon as registration is complete, you will receive an email with a link to access the online discussion. 

Presenter David Joens is the author of "From Slave to State Legislator." Click HERE to find this book in our library's catalog.

Joens is the Director of the Illinois State Archives, the state agency responsible for the preservation of historic Illinois state and local government records. He has written three books and several articles on Illinois history and government. A fifth-generation resident of Illinois, Joens received his Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, two Master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and a doctorate in Illinois history from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.