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My crash course in bigotry by John J. Dunphy
I'm sure that many of you are familiar with the "It Gets Better" project on You-Tube. Members of the gay and lesbian community, as well as prominent straights such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, have posted over ten thousand videos to assure gay and lesbian youths that life indeed "gets better" for those of their sexual orientation. Why is such a project necessary? As parents, educators and all Americans of conscience will readily attest, gay and lesbian kids frequently suffer a horrendous level of persecution, particularly in school.

While many straight kids accept -- or, at least, tolerate -- their gay and lesbian classmates, no small number of dim-witted bullies with an addiction to sadism subject these youths to taunts, threats and outright violence on an almost daily basis. The harassment and persecution these kids suffer would challenge the resilience of many adults. Some gay and lesbian students see suicide as the only escape from the hell of their everyday existence. An Arkansas school board member posted a venomous tirade on Facebook in which he stated that gay and lesbian youth indeed should commit suicide. Public reaction was so negative that he resigned.  Read full article...

Illinois Anti-Slavery Society Founded in Upper Alton by John J. Dunphy
Elijah Lovejoy, the abolitionist editor of the Alton Observer, had grown impatient with the timidity of the anti-slavery cause in Illinois. He decided that abolitionists in the Prairie State would be more effective in ridding America of the hated Peculiar Institution if they banded together to act in unison.

"Is it not time that such a society be formed?" he asked in an editorial published in the July 6, 1837 edition of the Alton Observer. After noting that the abolitionist cause had "many, many friends" in Illinois and numerous local anti-slavery groups existed, Lovejoy suggested that "the time has come" to organize a statewide anti-slavery society.

"If it be decided that such a society ought to be formed," he questioned, "when and where shall the convention meet to form it? Shall it be in this place, or at Jacksonville, or Springfield, or elsewhere?"  Read full article...

Madison County blacks fought in the Civil War by John J. Dunphy
A white politician and a renowned black abolitionist both supported the enlistment of black troops into the Union army during the Civil War. Illinois Governor Richard Yates in July of 1862 urged President Abraham Lincoln to "accept the services of all loyal men," which obviously included blacks. Frederick Douglass in March of 1863 delivered an address in Rochester, NY titled "Men of Color to Arms." He urged blacks to view the Civil War as a conflict that would destroy the institution of slavery. Some Illinois blacks journeyed to Massachusetts to enlist in the Massachusetts 54th Infantry, an early black regiment that included two of Douglass' sons. The 1989 film "Glory" introduced modern Americans to the Massachusetts 54th, which suffered horrendous casualties during an unsuccessful assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina in 1863. By the end of the Civil War, the Union army included almost 150 black regiments and artillery batteries.  Read full article...

Illinois Men Served in the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth by John J. Dunphy
Anyone who has watched the film "Glory" will never forget the saga of the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth, one of the first black units to serve in the Civil War. Many people aren't aware, however, that men from other states also served in the Fifty-Fourth -- including men from Illinois. Before the formation of the Illinois Twenty-Ninth Colored Infantry in 1864, Illinois blacks who wanted to fight for the Union had to enlist in units from other states such as the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth, which was founded in 1863. At least thirty-three Illinois men, mostly from Chicago and Galesburg, served in the Fifty-Fourth.  Read full article...


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