Bill to boost Underground Railroad awareness advances in Illinois Senate

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 6:33 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Illinois may be one step closer to developing an Underground Railroad Task Force.

Senate Bill 1623 would establish the group which would develop a statewide plan to increase awareness.

This plan would include the development of new educational and tourism opportunities while connecting projects relating to the Underground Railroad.

Timothy Jacobs, a volunteer with the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County said this measure is important given the local connection to the railroad.

“The underground railroad is a great part of our history and especially here in west-central Illinois and Quincy, where we’re part of the Underground Railroad,” Jacobs said. “I think developing a curriculum based on that would be a great idea.”

He said the historical connection in Quincy is particularly unique because there are written records of the railroad’s existence.

“Much of the Underground Railroad history could not be written down because of the nature of the secrecy of the Underground Railroad,” Jacobs said. “So most of what we have is word of mouth although here in Quincy, with the Eells house and the court case for Dr. Eells, we do have some written documentation on it.”

Jacobs said the Underground Railroad was so important in Western Illinois because of the region’s close proximity to the slave state of Missouri, especially Northern Missouri which featured a higher number of slaves compared to the rest of the state.

Anyone wishing to find out more information about the local connection to the Underground Railroad will have an opportunity from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Eells House.

There will be a Black History Month celebration with guest speakers, a short film on the history of local abolitionists, a walkthrough of the house, which is a nationally recognized Underground Railroad site, along with snacks and beverages.

The bill to create the Underground Railroad Task Force passed the Senate State Government committee on Wednesday and is now heading to the senate for consideration.

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