Thursday, October 17, 2019

UIS Speaker Series examines the first U.S. town founded by an African American

Kate Williams-McWorter and Gerald McWorter - Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
WHAT: The University of Illinois Springfield Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) Speaker Series will present “Free Frank’s New Philadelphia, Illinois: First U.S. Town Founded by a Black Man.” The lecture will discuss the history of the now-vanished town that was located near Barry in Pike County, Illinois. The event is free and open to the public.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019

WHERE: UIS Student Union Ballroom

DETAILS: Learn the personal history and living legacy of Free Frank McWorter, who founded New Philadelphia, an abolitionist town situated in Illinois, only 20 miles from slavery, and purchased the freedom of 16 of his family members, including himself.

The biracial community was founded before the Civil War and was one of the stations along the Underground Railroad. The town site has been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.

Gerald A. McWorter, a descendant of Free Frank McWorter, and Kate Williams-McWorter will share more of the history and legacy of the town and excerpts from their recent publication “New Philadelphia.”

This event is cosponsored by the UIS Black History Month Academic Ad Hoc committee; UIS Brookens Library; the UIS Departments of History, Sociology/Anthropology, African American Studies; the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum; UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program; the UIS Diversity Center and UIS Archives.

Individuals with disabilities who anticipate the need for accommodations should contact the UIS Speaker Series Office at 217-206-6245 or in advance.

For a list of other upcoming ECCE Speaker Series events, visit

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