A Rural, Black Community on the Illinois Dunes
by Dave Baron
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Baron begins each chapter with a personal narrative from his initial trip to Pembroke. He covers the early history of the area, explaining how the unique black oak savanna ecosystem was created and describing early residents, including Potawatomi tribes and white fur traders. He introduces readers to Pap and Mary Tetter, Pembroke’s first black residents, who—according to local lore—assisted fugitives on the Underground Railroad; details the town’s wild years, when taverns offered liquor, drugs, and prostitution; discusses the many churches of Pembroke and the nearby high school where, in spite of sometimes strained relations, Pembroke’s black students have learned alongside white students of a neighboring community since well before Brown v. Board of Education; outlines efforts by conservation groups to preserve Pembroke’s rare black oak savannas; and analyzes obstacles to and failed attempts at economic development in Pembroke, as well as recent efforts, including organic farms and a sustainable living movement, which may yet bring some prosperity.
Based on research, interviews with residents, and the author’s own experiences during many return trips to Pembroke, this book—part social, cultural, legal, environmental, and political history and part memoir—profiles a number of the colorful, longtime residents and considers what has enabled Pembroke to survive despite a lack of economic opportunities. Although Pembroke has a reputation for violence and vice, Baron reveals a township with a rich and varied history and a vibrant culture.
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by on September 30, 2016
- Southern Illinois University Press, July 2016
Southern Illinois University Press
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