University Park, IL,
16:55 PM

Illinois Black Hall of Fame Launches at Governors State University


Zion Banks

Governors State University



(University Park, Ill.) – Friday, U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis announced the launch and inaugural honoree of the Illinois Black Hall of Fame (IBHOF). Chicago icon Dr. Timuel Black, the Hall of Fame’s first inductee, and will be recognized at the Juneteenth Gala. The Hall of Fame was established to pay homage to the lives and legacies of notable African Americans from the state of Illinois, said Rep. Davis, who serves as the honorary chairman.

Dr. Black, who recently celebrated his 102nd birthday, was born into a family that was among the first wave of Blacks to leave the South and head north during the Great Migration. A noted author, historian and civil rights activist, Black’s handwritten correspondence to Dr. Martin Luther King and labor leader A. Philip Randolph can be found in the Chicago Public Library archives.

“I hope the contributions of my more-than-100 years can help people across racial and gender lines to realize tomorrow is coming, and it can be better than today,’’ said Dr. Black during Friday’s event, timed to celebrate the close of Black History Month.

Dr. Ceola Barnes, whose vision inspired the IBHOF, said Black embodies all the principles of the initiative. “The life and legacy of Dr. Timuel Black represents the epitome of an Illinois Black Hall of Famer,’’ said Barnes, who is also founder of the African-American Ladies Legacy Foundation (AALL).

Following Black, future inductees will reflect strides made across a broad spectrum of categories, including civil rights, politics, and education.

Rep. Davis commended his sister, Dr. Barnes, for following her dream of recognizing African American excellence. “The Illinois Black Hall of Fame is committed to honoring the past, celebrating the present, and inspiring the future. I am proud that we are honoring the life of Dr. Timuel Black during the launch,’’ he said.

Davis and Kelly were joined by Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller and University Park Mayor Joseph Roudez for the launch.

Miller, whose district includes parts of University Park, said she was “thrilled” with the partnership. “Governors State University … will serve as home of the Illinois Black Hall of Fame, lifting up our notable African Americans… whose achievements resonate with students.”

Attorney Richard Boykin, the General Chair of the IBHOF Advisory Committee, led the press conference, introducing each speaker and explaining the importance of the initiative.

“I am proud that Dr. Ceola Barnes included me in her dream to honor African American trailblazers,” Boykin said. In addition to preserving the legacies of trailblazers who gifted the world with music, scholarship, and culture, the Black Hall of Fame inductees’ work will inspire future generations. This represents hope for our children. Congratulations to Dr. Timuel Black, a living legend,’’ Boykin said.

A lifelong educator, Barnes received her master’s degree in Urban Teacher Education from Governors State University in 1975 and went on to impact thousands of young lives as a celebrated educational leader in Chicago’s public schools.

Kelly said the IBHOF will serve as a “shrine to African American achievement and excellence” and amplify Chicago’s Southland. “The Illinois Black Hall of Fame is an idea whose time has come.”

Governors State University President Cheryl Green agreed, and said the university is honored to welcome Alumna Barnes and the IBHOF.

“The Illinois Black Hall of Fame’s mission to honor the legacy of notable African Americans goes to the heart of the university’s values to recognize those who have shown resilience, self-determination, and excellence,” Green said.

“Our remarkable graduates, including Dr. Barnes, bear witness to Governors State’s mission to provide an exceptional and accessible educational experience that prepares them to innovate and lead in the global society.’’

The next event will be the virtual Juneteenth Gala on June 19, 2021. Visit the Illinois Black Hall of Fame Facebook page for updates and to watch event highlights.