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New UIUC signs honor early Black students, promotes inclusion

(Left to Right) Local officials pose in front of the William F. Earnest Sign following Monday unveiling, including Chancellor Robert Jones, Senator Paul Faraci, AAHT Co-Chair, Angela Rivers, Earnest's great grand nephew, Leon Lomax, Exec. Assoc. Chancellor for Public Engagement, Wanda Ward, Director of University Housing, Alma Sealine, and Board Chair member for Experience C-U, Lynn Barnes
David Pierce

The African American Heritage Trail, established in 2020, is a series of memorial signs that chronicle the history of African Americans throughout the county.

Recently, two new displays have been added to the trail. These are dedicated to William F. Earnest and Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield.

The new signs are located on First street in front of Bousfield Hall and across from Granger Grove by Memorial stadium respectively.

Angela Rivers is a co-chair for the group.

She told IPM Newsroom Reporter, David Pierce, that people walking past either memorial will better understand the role they played in the university’s growth.

“From the early onset of the university and it began to spread its wings and develop into the major institution that it is now, you begin to see that there were African Americans that were involved either as in school or working on behalf of the university,” Rivers said.

Chancellor Robert Jones shared how the county has a past of segregation that some find unsettling.

But he applauds the effort to remember those who were impacted.

Patricia McKinney Lewis

“We’ve made a commitment to restoring these stories,” Chancellor Jones said.

He continued by saying, “We want to make sure that these individual stories are not forgotten and there’s not a better way of doing that than this.”

Both students were members of Black Greek organizations. 

Bousfield was a member of the Gamma chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. 

Earnest was a member of Beta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. 


Picture of David Pierce

David Pierce

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