Lewis University Begins to Broaden Joliet Narratives

Lewis University Begins to Broaden Joliet Narratives

Published: January 28, 2022.

Work has begun on the Lewis University project of the “Reclaiming the Narrative: Restoring Black Voices to the Story of Joliet” grant initiative funded by the Chicago-based Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. The Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Lewis University is one of 11 recipients of the Foundation’s groundbreaking “Broadening Narratives” initiative which aims to fund specific collections projects that bring forward underrepresented stories. All projects promote BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints.

“The 20th century history of African Americans in Joliet includes the prominent role of Black churches, which serve not only as religious institutions, but also as hubs for the region’s civil rights movements,” said Dr. Laura Franklin, dean of General Education and College of Humanities, Fine Arts & Communications at Lewis University. “This grant will make it possible to recover first-hand narratives of this period, and also to engage new audiences in learning about this history.”

The Lewis University-Adelmann Regional History Project, the Lewis University Library, and the Lewis University Office of Community Engaged Learning formed a Lewis Community Partners Coalition to gather, share and preserve first-hand accounts of the Joliet region’s Black history. The coalition also includes members representing organizations including the Joliet Area Historical Museum, Second Baptist Church in Joliet, Mt. Zion Church in Joliet, Fairmont community, White Oak Library District and Fountaindale Libraries, among others.

Additionally, the project is expected to grow collaborations between Lewis University and predominately Black organizations and engage new audiences with the region’s Black history through public programming.

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