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Presence, Pride and Passion: A History of African Americans in McLean County
Very little history of African American life and culture in McLean County had been documented prior to the 1930s. Due to the work of the Bloomington-Normal Black History Project and the McLean County Museum of History, the museum was able to form the basis of the exhibit, Presence, Pride, & Passion: A History of African Americans in McLean County through an outstanding collection of African American artifacts, primary resources, and oral histories. Today we can now share those rich stories with the greater community.

Day 1: Tuesday, February 23, 2:15-3:00 p.m. – Presence – Blacks chose to make McLean County their home as early as the 1830s. Through tragedy and hardship, some became homeowners and lived in many areas of the community. One such individual was Dr. Euguene Covington. Dr. Covington was the only back medical professional to successfully practice in McLean County until the late twentieth century. Join us to find out how he was able to be successful.

Day 2: Wednesday, February 24, 2:15-3:00 p.m. – Pride – Determination has always played a role in the success of Blacks in America. Many who served in the military returned home only to be denied the opportunity. After serving in World War I, veteran Willis Stearles returned to Bloomington. Through favorable circumstances and arduous work, Stearles gained community acceptance in ways no one would imagine. Join us to learn more about Willis Stearles.

Day 3: Thursday, February 25, 2:15-3:00 p.m. – Passion – In honoring Black people in the community who had a passion for success, we cannot tell the story of Bloomington-Normal African American history without examining the accomplishments of Mrs. Claribel Washington. Retired State Farm executive, Willie Brown, once referred to Mrs. Washington as “one of our Presidents.” Washington's passion for civil rights guided her principles throughout her entire life. She left some very sound advice for us all. Join us to learn more about Claribel Washington.
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