First Black Firehouse of Springfield, Webinar
Join the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum as Kathryn Harris interviews Ken Page about the 1st Black Firehouse in Springfield. The First Black Firehouse in Springfield was constructed in 1901 and was dedicated as the First Black Firehouse for African American Firefighters and the only firehouse in the city where African American Firefighters were allowed to work. The men from this firehouse answered the fire alarm for the homes that were torched during the Springfield, Illinois 1908 Race Riot. The tragedies from this event lead to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Ken retired from the State of Illinois after 38 years of employment. He spent the last 25 years as Director of the Office of Environmental Justice at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. He attended undergraduate school at the University of Alabama. Selma, Alabama is his hometown. After graduating he moved to Springfield to attend Sangamon State University now UIS. Ken is the past president of the Springfield Branch of the NAACP. He was president during the 100th Anniversary of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot that was the catalyst in the formation of the NAACP. He is currently the president of the Springfield Chapter of the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union. He is a Prince Hall Mason of Central Lodge #3. Central Lodge #3 owns the 1st Black Firehouse in Springfield, Illinois.
Kathryn M. Harris is a local historian and retired professional librarian. She served at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois (formally the Illinois State Historical Library) as the Director of Library Services. She has previously held positions at The Illinois State Library, the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Library, Florida International University, and Springfield’s own Lincoln Library. She has served, or is actively serving on various boards, including the Illinois Library Association, the Sangamon County Historical Society, and the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum. She is involved in various community programs, and was voted Springfield’s First Citizen in 2020. Kathryn is also well known for appearing in period dress as Harriet Tubman and telling Harriet’s story to local school children and history lovers all over Central Illinois.