Join the Urbana Free Library on Saturday, February 15 from 2-3 p.m. for a compelling look at the history of African Americans in the “Land of Lincoln.” Brian Dolinar will be speaking about about his recent book, The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers. Originally part of President Roosevelt’s Illinois Writers’ Project, the WPA employed many major African American Chicago writers, including Richard Wright, Margaret Walker, and Katherine Dunham. They documented Black history in Illinois from Jean Point Baptiste DuSable, the Black founder of Chicago, to Lincoln’s Emancipation and the Great Migration. Editor Brian Dolinar helped to rescue this nearly-lost project and will talk about some of the amazing history it uncovers.
In this talk, he will focus on the local connections in the book, including WPA workers doing research at the University of Illinois library, mention of segregation in Champaign, and citation of late nineteenth-century editorials from the News-Gazette. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.
The Champaign County Historical Archives will also display photos, newspaper articles, and artifacts from significant events and people in local African American history.
Dr. Brian Dolinar is a scholar of African American literature and culture from the Depression era who also authored The Black Cultural Front: Black Writers and Artists of the Depression Generation (2012). He completed his Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University in 2005. He currently teaches in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.