Glennette Tilley Turner Brings the Illinois Underground Railroad to Life at 2010 African American Heritage Festival in Naperville

“Heritage” is a word that is not only at the fabric and meaning of our existence, but one which carries with it tales of tradition and tragedy which are meant to never be forgotten as future generations inherit this Earth, this country and our community.

The inaugural 2010 African American Heritage Festival, which took place at the NCC Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center last weekend, was certainly an occasion worthy of joyful celebration, insightful reflection and meaningful connections.  Based upon my own experience in attending the festivities on Saturday and meeting the amazing people behind this event, my resolve to bring the larger community into the experience of this Festival was solidified.

To those who could not attend, below is a small piece of what you missed… an audio and still photo composite of author Glennette Tilley Turner talking about her own life and the Freedom Seeker’s travels through the Naperville portion of the Illinois Underground Railroad.  The video also includes an audio interview with the Festival’s Originator, Osie B. Davenport, on the story behind the Festival.

Turner’s warm soul and lifelong inquisitive curiosity has resulted in a number of books for all ages, including:  “An Apple for Harriet Tubman” (childrens book), “The Underground Railroad in Illinois”, “Running for Our Lives”, “Journeys in Courage – On the Underground Railroad”.

In addition, she is about to release a new book, entitled “Fort Mose” about the small island off the coast of St. Augustine, FL which was founded nearly a century before the Emancipation Proclamation and became the earliest settlement of emancipated slaves in our country.

I encourage you to buy these books, share these important stories with your family and make a plan to retrace the steps of the Underground Railroad in Naperville and our surrounding areas.  You can find out more about Glennette Tilley Turner and order her books at:  www.ugrr-illinois.com.

If you missed the African American Heritage Festival this year, I highly recommend that you make plans to attend next year as this is both an important event and opportunity for our community to come together, connect with each other and to explore and celebrate the unique richness of the lives, culture and history that surrounds us.

In the end, the contribution of grant money to support these enriching events is lost without the contribution of time, attention and participation by our community.  Even more, there is an amazing personal and societal reward to be gained when we travel outside of ourselves to build a deeper connection with what is the truest and most meaningful wealth within our community… our relationships with each other.   SM

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