- Illinois State Museum, Springfield
With a population of about two thousand, Pembroke Township, sixty-five miles south of Chicago is one of the largest rural, black communities north of the Mason-Dixon Line. It is also one of the poorest places in the nation. Many black farmers came to this area during the Great Migration; finding Chicago to be overcrowded and inhospitable, they were able to buy land in the township at low prices. The poor soil made it nearly impossible to establish profitable farms, however, and economic prosperity has eluded the region ever since.
Dave Baron will present stories from his book Pembroke: A Rural, Black Community on the Illinois Dunes which chronicles the history of this inimitable township and shows the author’s personal transformation through his experiences with Pembroke and its people. Baron's book—part social, cultural, legal, environmental, and political history and part memoir—profiles a number of the colorful, longtime residents and considers what has enabled Pembroke to survive despite a lack of economic opportunities. Although Pembroke has a reputation for violence and vice, Baron reveals a township with a rich and varied history and a vibrant culture.
Paul Mickey Science Series takes place on the second Wednesday of each month in the Auditorium at the Illinois State Museum. A different speaker and topic will be featured each month. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 782-0061.