McHistory goes back in time to explore big moments and small stories from McLean County history. McHistory episodes can be heard periodically on WGLT's Sound Ideas.
Civil rights for African Americans have been a struggle in many parts of the nation, including Bloomington-Normal. But the first Black city council political candidate in Bloomington came 16 years before women gained the right to vote in Illinois.
That first African American candidate was a veteran, activist, member of a literary society, doorman at the state capital, and barber.
“Richard Blue's remarkable life really speaks to the travails and the triumphs of black Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries, the limitations they faced socially, politically, economically, and yet the ability not only to navigate this unjust world they faced, but to succeed and fight for dignity,” said Bill Kemp, librarian and archivist at the McLean County Museum of History.