Sharing Stories of Kaskaskia with Illinois Humanities

Illinois Humanities
Illinois Humanities

I was honored to be asked to contribute last month to a new documentary, “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union,” produced by Illinois Humanities in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities.


In my interview, I highlighted the important stories of two of our honorees from The Randolph Society, Nance Legins Costley and John Willis Menard. Nance Legins Costley was born into slavery in Kaskaskia just as Illinois was becoming a state, and her brave actions in asserting her free status set important legal precedents—and helped a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln to evolve his perspective on slavery. John Willis Menard was also born in Kaskaskia, and he went on to become the first Black person elected to the United States Congress.

I’m sharing my segment here, but I’d highly recommend watching the entire episode (and the previous installment) on the Illinois Humanities YouTube channel.

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