East St. Louis, Illinois Events

East St. Louis Sesquicentennial Summer Celebration

This weekend, East St. Louis is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a two-day program of events. All events take place at the East St. Louis Higher Education Center, 601 James R. Thompson Boulevard in downtown East St. Louis.

The Ainad Temple (1923) at 615 St. Louis Avenue in East St. Louis was designed by William B. Ittner and Albert B. Frankel.

Friday, July 8, 2011: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

11:00 Building D Multi-Purpose Room
• Ceremony to mark the transition of the East St. Louis Action Research Project from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; representatives from the two universities will review the history of the ESLARP program and the exciting plans for the future

12:00 Building D Multi-Purpose Room
• Brown Bag Lunch Program: Dr. Malcolm McLaughlin will be the featured speaker at this event, sponsored by the St. Louis Metropolitan Research Exchange. Dr. McLaughlin is a lecturer in American Studies at the University of East Anglia in England and is the author of Power, Community, and Racial Killing in East St. Louis, a study of the 1917 riot. Free parking in Lot E. The cafeteria in Building B will be open for lunch purchases.

Saturday, July 9, 2011: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

9:00 a.m.
• Family History Center (Building B Cafeteria, until 2:00): bring your elders and family photos to the Family History Center. SIUE students will record participants and their memorabilia on videotape for the University Archive and website. (Participants will be asked to sign a copyright release for the videotaping.)
• History Display Area (Building D Multi-Purpose Room, until 2:00): come visit the history display area for exhibits of East St. Louis’s industrial and cultural past. These include special displays by Eugene Redmond (poet laureate of the city), Howard Rambsy (director of the SIUE Black Studies Program), Reginald Petty (renowned local historian and author), and Edna Patterson-Petty (award winning artist, whose work is on display on the Higher Education Campus).

10:00 a.m.
• Film Festival (Building D Room 1005): Made In USA: The East St. Louis Story. This Emmy-winning documentary from 2003 chronicles East St. Louis’s fascinating history from ferry-boat landing to industrial powerhouse. It features rare footage of the 1917 Riot as well as the 1960 All America City parade. Showing is courtesy of KETC Channel 9/Nine Network
• History Discussion Program (Building D Multi-Purpose Room): Come hear Dr. Charles Lumpkins of Pennsylvania State University speak on the history of East St. Louis, followed by other authors who have documented the city’s history—including Malcolm McLaughlin of the University of East Anglia, Norwich, Great Britain.

11:00 a.m.
• Health Fair (until 1:30 in the Courtyard between Building D and Building B): free health screenings and health information provided by the SIUE School of Nursing and the SIUE Dental School
• Community Information Fair (until 1:30 in the Courtyard between Building D and Building B): vendors and agencies will be on hand to provide useful information about services available to the public
• Green Partnership Community Gardening Demonstration (in the Courtyard between Building D and Building B): ever thought about starting a community garden? Have you thought about growing your own vegetables? The experts from the Green Partnership will provide ideas and information
• Book Sale (Building D Lobby): Left Bank Books will offer for sale a variety of books about East St. Louis, including the soon-to-be-released Images of America book from Arcadia Publishing and newly-released The Making of an All-America City from Virginia Publishing and edited by Mark Abbott. Other titles available include Theising’s Made In USA: East St. Louis (2003), McLaughlin’s Power, Community, and Racial Killing in East St. Louis (2005), Lumpkins’ American Pogrom (2008), and Harper Barnes Never Been a Time (2008).
• Announcing! The brand-new Images of America: East St. Louis. You’ve seen the Images of America series in bookstores for many years—now East St. Louis has its own special volume in honor of the city’s sesquicentennial. Bill Nunes and Andrew Theising have researched over 100 images, some never before published from the University Archives and private collections. The book will not be released until later in July, but Summer Celebration visitors can purchase a limited supply of these books at this event only.
• Book Signing (Building D Lobby): have your East St. Louis books signed by the authors: Mark Abbott, Harper Barnes, Charles Lumpkins, Malcolm McLaughlin, Bill Nunes, Andrew Theising, as well as essay contributors to The Making of an All-America City.
• Film Festival (Building D Room 1005): The Battle of East St. Louis. A fascinating documentary from 1969 that examined the tensions between what was a largely-white police force and rising black power movement in East St. Louis—as well as the creative program that addressed the problem. This documentary has not been seen in decades, and is being shown today courtesy of CBS News.

12:00 noon
• Film Festival (Building D Room 1005): Against All The Odds. The film series wraps up with Sandra Pfeifer’s compelling 2009 film about the experience of East St. Louis, chronicling how the city and its people overcame obstacles to make a great contribution to art, faith, and culture. Meet the filmmaker as she presents her well-received work.

1:00 p.m.
• Public Officials Ceremony (Building D Multi-Purpose Room): Mayor Alvin Parks and other public officials will speak on the occasion of the Sesquicentennial. There will be a special remembrance of the victims of the 1917 Riot. Professor Eugene Redmond, poet-laureate of East St. Louis, will read his Sesquicentennial poem.