The Lynching of Samuel J. Bush Historical Marker at Macon Courthouse in Decatur, IL.Between 1891 and1914, there were at least 22 racially motivated lynchings in Illinois. On June 3, 2023, exactly 130 years after his murder, the first Illinois State Historical Society marker recognizing the untold stories of racial terror lynchings was placed in the city of Decatur in memory of Samuel J. Bush.

Bush was accused of assaulting two white women on June 3, 1893. He was then charged and held in the Macon County Courthouse. Before he had a chance to defend himself in a court of law, a mob of 1,500 white people from Mt. Zion stormed the courthouse, and abducted him. The mob then dragged a naked Mr. Bush to the intersection of Water & Wood Street, and proceeded to hang him from a utility pole. There, according to newspaper accounts, he knelt and prayed for, “Jesus to come and take his soul and forgive the men who were murdering him.”

None of his perpetrators faced legal consequences for his murder.

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Over a year later, the family and friends of Jelani Day are still grappling for answers as they grieve the loss of their loved one. Despite living with the pain of receiving the horrifying, life-changing news of Day’s passing, the family started the Jelani Day Foundation in August 2022 intended to be an advocate for minorities who are missing and to help families through the traumatic experience in honor of the life and legacy of Jelani Day.

The 25-year-old was found dead in Peru, Illinois in September of 2021. He was reported missing the week before, and was last seen in Bloomington, where he was a graduate student at Illinois State University.

The people who run the “Justice for Jelani Day” Facebook page announced the creation of the Jelani Day Foundation Scholarship for seniors attending Danville High School, Day’s alma mater. The announcement stated, “Jelani had dreams of giving back to his community and being a service to others, and even in his absence that dream will not be unfulfilled”.

This month, JDF was pleased to celebrate the launch of the Jelani Day Foundation Scholarship and honored to award their very first recipient.

Nevaeh Jones, of Danville High School, was honored with a $500 scholarship based on her community involvement, life experiences, academic achievement, and her scholarship essay.
The Foundation is looking forward to keeping Day’s legacy alive through more scholarship opportunities in the future. To support his legacy and families of color while searching for a loved one, folks can donate to JDF. Additionally, JDF will host the Annual All White Gala to celebrate one year since the foundation’s inception. You can follow Justice for Jelani Day on Facebook for more information.

CPL picIn the heart of the Windy City lies the Chicago Public Library, which consists of 81 locations, including a central library, two regional libraries and branches distributed throughout the city's 77 community areas.

The American Library Association reports that the library holds 5,721,334 volumes, making it the ninth largest public library in the United States by volumes held and the second largest public library system in the Midwest.

This year, the library is celebrating 150 years of service to the great city of Chicago. Since 1873, it’s moved to several locations varying from the City Hall to traveling buses and carts which provided multiple selections of books to be delivered.

In recent years, CPL has reached major milestones, becoming the largest public library system in the United States to eliminate late fees for borrowed items in 2019. CPL also forgave all existing fines and allowed more than 100,000 formerly blocked accounts to start anew. There are still due dates for borrowed items, and patrons are still required to return items or replace them to continue their borrowing privileges.

In addition to no overdue fines, the library’s property tax levy was raised by a fraction to increase library access on Sundays. All CPL branches now operate seven days a week and visitation has increased by 35%, according to library officials.

View a visual timeline of the library on CPL’S website.

As January comes to an end, let’s celebrate those who were born in Illinois in the month of January! Many birthdays of note from people born in Illinois occurred in January. From actors and actresses to the famous, historic, or otherwise distinguished figures who can track their birthplaces back to Illinois in January are as follows:

- Betty White: American actress and comedian, born on Jan. 17, 1922 in Oak Park

- Michelle Obama: Former First Lady of the United States (2009-2017), lawyer, and writer born on Jan. 17, 1964 in Chicago

- John Belushi: Comedian best known for his role on Saturday Night Live, actor and musician born on Jan. 24, 1949 in Chicago

- Michael Peña: American actor known for his roles in Ant-Man and Crash, born on Jan. 12, 1976 in Chicago

- Carl Rogers: Psychologist whom is one of the founders of humanistic psychology and pioneered the field of clinical psychological research, born on Jan. 8, 1902 in Oak Park


il s courtThe verdict is in, and it is a win for women all across Illinois. For the first time in its history, the state’s highest court is made up of a majority of female judges. Not only that, but it is a super-majority with a five to two margin. The majority was made when Justices Elizabeth Rochford and Mary Kay O’Brien were sworn in on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. The two women were both elected to the Supreme Court in November. Justice Joy V. Cunningham, who was appointed to replace retiring Chief Justice Anne M. Burke, also joins the female justices.

The three new female justices join two other women on the Supreme Court, Justice Lisa Holder White and Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis. Lisa Holder White was the first Black woman on the Illinois Supreme Court and Cunningham will become the second. Cunningham’s appointment will bring the Supreme Court to three Black Justices total. This group of historic women are making leaps and bounds at breaking glass ceilings not only for women, but for the Black community as well.

Chief Justice Theis was quoted saying, “To say I was the only woman in the room is absolutely true for a very long time in my career, even when I went on the bench. There were very, very few women. But there were some. And as we moved along, there were many more behind me.”

More women are sure to follow in their footsteps, and Illinois’ history will be all the better for it.