Sankofa Lecture Series to discuss slavery in Illinois, registration open

Darrel Dexter, author of “Bondage in Egypt Slavery in Southern Illinois.”

An upcoming Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE)’s Sankofa Lecture and Dialogue Series presentation will examine the history and long-lasting effects of slavery in Illinois.

The ongoing series features robust conversations surrounding the history of slavery and its lasting legacies, and is organized through SIUE’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center, specifically its membership of the international Universities Studying Slavery (USS) consortium.

Darrel Dexter will present “Stories of Bondage in Egypt: Slavery in Southern Illinois” at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 25 via Zoom. Registration is available at https://siue.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_n336881gQr2WiQ-b6PwpNw.

The lecture is based off research presented in Dexter’s book, “Bondage in Egypt Slavery in Southern Illinois.”

“The existence of the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery in ‘free state’ Illinois is a paradox that shows how complicated the issue of slavery can be,” said Dexter. “An examination of slavery in Illinois can contribute to our understanding of how a people and nation who celebrate liberty could at the same time enslave a group of people and deny them the same freedom they cherish so highly for themselves.”

While conducting research for his book, Dexter visited the courthouses of the southern 24 counties of Illinois and discovered many official records of slavery. He found the primary source documents to provide a concise picture of how the enslavement of thousands of individuals was carried out in Illinois for 150 years under the shield of the law.

By sharing the stories of several people who were enslaved in Illinois, Dexter hopes to emphasize the effect slavery has had on the state in the past and present. Among the lives to be examined include Lydia Titus, who filed the first freedom suit in Illinois and spent her life fighting for the freedom of herself, six children and grandchildren.

“These stories are a sad reminder that most stories of enslaved people in Illinois and the nation are lost and absent from the records,” added Dexter. “In many cases, their names are not even known.”

Dexter invites anyone interested in continuing the struggle for equality, human rights and civil rights to attend the lecture.

The Sankofa Lecture and Dialogue Series is one of the University’s many anti-racism initiatives. For more information on the TRHT and its future programs and initiatives, visit siue.edu/provost/trht.

Photo: Darrel Dexter, author of “Bondage in Egypt Slavery in Southern Illinois.”




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