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Village of Park Forest - Top Story News

Posted on: February 14, 2022

Historical Society to present program on African-American pioneers in Park Forest

Historical Society PF

Park Forest Historical Society will be launching a program on YouTube on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 2:30 p.m. 

"Reflections and Accomplishments of African Americans," part of the 50th Anniversary of Park Forest programming, was originally filmed February 21, 1999 at Freedom Hall.

The program includes panels and speakers on different aspects of African-American life in Park Forest. Speakers include many citizens prominent in the history of Park Forest. Several families created display boards on the history and accomplishments of their families, and on educational/professional attainment. Primary organizers were Leonard and Yvonne Robinson with help from Roy and Bonita Dillard and others.  It is not known at this point whether the video includes footage of the displays.

In combination with the program, a committee worked on "Park Forest African-American Pioneers When and How We Entered 1958-1968," a book of documents on early integration in Park Forest. The book became part of the Park Forest Public Library archival collection, now maintained by the Park Forest Historical Society at 227 Monee Road.  The original is in the library and a copy is in the Park Forest Local History Files with the Society. 

Due to COVID-19 the society has not been holding programs in public, but is using its YouTube channel, “Park Forest Historical Society” to air Park Forest Hall of Fame ceremonies and to share past programs of historical significance.

The society, founded in 1985, had the unique opportunity of holding panel discussions and interviews with original or early residents with first-hand knowledge of how different groups and institutions were formed, and with pioneer stories of life in early Park Forest.   Once launched the programs remain on YouTube indefinitely.

The society also holds the audiotapes and transcripts of, “OH! Park Forest” Oral History of Park Forest, for interviews done through the Park Forest Public Library in 1980 to 1981 with an Illinois Humanities grant. Several transcripts can be found on Illinois Digital Archives, www.idaillinois.org in the project, “Park Forest: An Illinois Planned Community.” The society has a handout with the names of narrators who spoke on integration or school desegregation in Park Forest. 

Information on the program, the society, or on the 1950s Park Forest House Museum, operated by the society, is with Jane Nicoll at 708-481-4252, or via email on the website parkforesthistory.org. 

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