A Colson Whitehead Event:
African-American History Up to the Civil War

Presented by
Illinois College Professor Alonzo Ward
Thursday, July 19th at 6:30 pm


    Colson Whitehead’s alternative history novel, The Underground Railroad, tells a compelling story about the daring travails of two slaves as they make a bid for their freedom. Yet this genre of fiction in which historic events occur differently often require some historic contextualization (especially for those not entirely familiar with the historical subject).

    Ward will briefly examine slavery and how it transformed into the institution that many are familiar with today. He will address the variation in slavery from region to region, as well the dramatic changes that took place over time.

    He will also discuss the actual Underground Railroad, how and where it operated, and the role of Illinois abolitionists—particularly after the infamous 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.


    Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead will be at the library on September 12, 2018, for a reception prior to a convocation at Illinois College. The library is hosting a number of events around Whitehead's book The Underground Railroad. Find a full schedule here.