These Black Pioneers Left A Lasting Legacy

Enslaved Africans
Leslie Grover
August 11, 2020

Brooklyn, Illinois was destined to be a special place for our people. The first incorporated Black city in the nation, it began when our enslaved ancestors, seeking freedom, crossed the Mississippi River to avoid the reach of slavery and white terrorism. But that was only the beginning.

As the town grew, it became a stop on the Underground Railroad, harboring tunnels under one of its churches. This community was a haven for our people!

But then the usurpers came.

Ignoring our rights and desires, white developers mapped the land for profit. They sold parcels to whites only, and because our people couldn’t vote, the small number of whites quickly stole political control of the Black town. 

It was a huge loss – but the story was not over.

Just over a decade after the white intrusion, Black men finally won the right to vote. Since our people outnumbered their white “neighbors,” this was the opportunity to take back our town. But could voting truly change things?

In this case, yes! Not only did our people regain political control, but they changed the name to Lovejoy after an abolitionist. The community continued to help our people. 

Today Lovejoy is still reinventing itself. We must always fight to honor and keep our own communities safe from white intrusion and takeover!

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