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HCC Clarence Mitchell Library presents Black History Month program

Kate Williams and Gerald McWorter with their book New Philadelphia

Highland Community College’s Clarence Mitchell Library hosts speakers, Gerald McWorter and Kate Williams-McWorter at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8 via Zoom™.

In honor of Black History Month, Gerald McWorter and Kate Williams-McWorter will share their program, “New Philadelphia, IL: Let America Be America Again.” New Philadelphia is located west of Springfield.

The town was the first-ever founded by a formerly enslaved Black man. Frank McWorter bought his pregnant wife, then himself, and 14 other family members out of slavery. New Philadelphia was home to descendants of both Africa and Europe. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad, helping freedom seekers escape slavery. Today the U.S. Congress is considering making New Philadelphia a national park.

Gerald McWorter is Frank’s great-great-grandson as well as a founder of the field of Black Studies. Kate Williams-McWorter is the great-great-granddaughter of a man who stopped an 1860 lynching in Texas, as well as a professor of library studies.

They wrote the book, “New Philadelphia” for the local history group which maintains the New Philadelphia site and supports learning about it, and the McWorters. The New Philadelphia Association has attracted archaeologists, historians, visitors, and supporters from across the country, and beyond.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information on the program or to receive the Zoom link to attend the presentation, contact Laura Watson at 815-599-3456 or

Photo: Kate Williams-McWorter, left, and Gerald McWorter