In the fight for freedom in 1864 abolitionist and businessman John Jones looked to the achievements of the past as the basis to declare citizenship in the present. Many at the time opposed him — they did not agree that he or any African American should be a citizen. But Jones continued to fight and continued to claim citizenship, until it was finally recognized.
The pages within "The Illinois Freedom Project" web site contain insights into the struggles for freedom in Illinois through stories of the past as well as insights from young people today. Here, you will find stories about communities and neighborhoods; about laws and justice; about families and leadership; and, about taking a stand.
Together, as Carter G. Woodson said in 1926,
"We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements."
"Fellow citizens, I declare unto you, view it as you may, we are American citizens; by the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are American citizens; within the meaning of the United States Constitution, we are American citizens; by the facts of history, and the admissions of American statesmen, we are American citizens; by the hardships and trials endured; by the courage and fidelity displayed by our ancestors in defending the liberties and in achieving the independence of our land, we are American citizens."
John Jones, 1864