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Bicentennial series to be taping program in Alton

Illinois Humanities welcomes residents of Alton and surrounding communities to a free live taping of “Illinois Turns 200,” a bicentennial podcast series, on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the National Great Rivers Museum, 2 Locks and Dam Way.

illinoisbicentennial200“Illinois Turns 200” looks at the past, present, and potential futures of seven Illinois communities that arose along rivers, railroads, and significant roads and tells their stories through live interviews, dramatic readings, archival material, and musical performances. The seven-part series is going be available for broadcast to NPR-affiliates across Illinois and for downloading.

The series kicks off in Alton and features Dr. Charlie Blake on the capture of a bull shark in the Mississippi in 1937; Brad Winn on one of the earliest civilizations in North America; Sara McGibany and Alex St. Cin on Lighthouse Sounds and the revitalization of Downtown Alton; Liz Burns and Greg Cash on the very first soybean planted in Illinois; and J. Eric Robinson and Charlotte Johnson on how greater knowledge of the history of the Underground Railroad and the Rocky Fork settlement can shape the region’s future.

Chris Vallillo, Dennis Stroughmatt, and Brenda Lancaster are going to perform music that captures the character and culture of Alton while Randy Duncan is on hand as Abraham Lincoln to share his thoughts on the place. Refreshments are provided after the program.

“The act of remembering together and reflecting together that this project presents, with actual historical reference as a source of inspiration, is exciting to me because I think that when we take time to tell stories about history and make personal connections with that history we discover that our motivations are not so different,” says host Kamilah Rashied. “I think we also discover through this exercise that the divisiveness we feel in the present moment has much more to do with the past than we might believe.”

“Illinois Turns 200” represents a partnership among Illinois Humanities, the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, Lewis and Clark Community College, National Great Rivers Museum, and Alton Main Street. The podcast series is generously supported by State Farm Insurance and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Established in 1974, Illinois Humanities is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and produces free programs and events, gives out grants, and offers educational opportunities to youth and adults all across Illinois. Its mission is to strengthen the social, political, and economic fabric of Illinois through constructive conversation and community engagement. For more information, visit

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