February 3, 2023 @ 7:00 pm

The Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum in partnership with the Abraham Lincoln Home National Historic Site, happily welcomes Park Rangers, Ve’Amber Miller (Pullman National Historical Park, Chicago) and Nick Sacco (Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, St. Louis for a Black History Month panel discussion to be held on Friday, February 3, 2023 at 7:00pm.

*Light refreshments will be served*

Pullman Porters: Connectors of the Black Community- Short History
The world of Pullman Porters would open up in the late 1850s, with the expansion of the United States rail system. This is due to the overtly racist, exploitative motives of railroad mogul, George Mortimer Pullman. He believed that formerly enslaved African Americans were best suited to “work long hours for cheap wages” and specifically that those with dark skin were easier to view as subservient by his white clientele.

But yet, well into the 20th century, the Pullman company had the greatest number of Black employees. Which also included its Wait and Maid staff. The Porters would take what was meant to keep them lowly and make a mark, becoming leaders of the community. They would not only come to unionize for better pay and work conditions but serve as bulwarks during the final years of enslavement into the era of the Great Migration. Even transporting the Chicago Defender to southern states during that time. To them we owe so much.

Ulysses Grant

Born Hiram Ulysses Grant, he lived at the home of his in-laws, the Dents, known as “White Haven” (an 850 acre plantation run by slave labor) for six years, 1854-1860, before relocating to Illinois. He would eventually be given an enslaved man by the name of William Jones. While not an abolitionist, the very conflicted Grant could not bring himself to force work upon William and manumitted him in 1859. His wife, Julia Boggs Dent-Grant, like many of the time, remained “on the fence” about slavery and the human status and rights of African Americans. Believing that African Americans were unequal to whites but refusing to support slavery outside of personal gain. Though she would come to support her husband’s efforts to end the system of slavery in U.S.