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Inside The Blanket Fort - Episode 112

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Inside The Blanket Fort - Episode 112 (2/2/23)

Journey back Inside The Blanket Fort this week as we honor Black History Month. Today, a look at some of the SIU Press books that celebrate Black History and foreground the stories of the people who shaped it. First published in hardcover in 2012, and just released in paperback for the first time this past November, the book From Slave to State Legislator: John W.E. Thomas, Illinois’s First African American Lawmaker, by David A. Joens, chronicles the first African American elected to the Illinois general assembly.

John W. E. Thomas laid the groundwork for the success of future Black leaders in Illinois politics. Despite his key role in the passage of Illinois’ first civil rights act and his commitment to improving his community against steep personal and political barriers, Thomas’s life and career have been long forgotten by historians and the public alike, a mistake that author David A. Joens wanted to rectify by delving into the importance and impact of Thomas’s political career, both during his lifetime and afterward.

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Amy Etcheson is the Interim Director of SIU Press at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. She is the program host and co-creator of Inside The Blanket Fort radio program and podcast.