Press Release

Illinois Humanities to Launch Series Exploring the Pursuit of A More Perfect Union, Starting with Kaskaskia, Illinois’ First State Capital

Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union will kick off with a video premiere October 6 and a discussion at Chester Public Library October 11.

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 19, 2022 – This fall, Illinois Humanities will present a new community event series, Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, exploring the demographic, cultural, and political shifts that shaped Kaskaskia, Illinois, and that carry significant relevance to shaping the democratic vision of the country.

The video program, “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, Part 1,” will premiere online on Thursday, October 6, at 7:00 p.m. CDT. A screening and in person discussion about “A More Perfect Union” will follow at Chester Public Library in Chester, Illinois on Tuesday, October 11, at 6:30 p.m.

“The remarkably multilayered story of Kaskaskia is essential to the stories of our state and our country,” said Matt Meacham, program manager of statewide engagement at Illinois Humanities and Randolph County native. “This history involves many groups of people – Indigenous and Black people, both enslaved and free, French and British people, Anglo-Americans from the South and the North, and subsequent immigrants – and many dramatic social, governmental, and economic changes that reflect the landscape of the state and country throughout time.”

From its founding by Native Americans and French Jesuit, to its designation as Illinois’ capital, and through periods of massive population change, Kaskaskia’s rich stories will provide participants in online screenings and in person conversations a unique opportunity to engage with the history of their state and its people. The series is the latest installment of the Illinois Humanities program, The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State. Additional programs will be held in 2022 and 2023 in Randolph County and Chicago about contemporary African American life in Kaskaskia and the preservation of French American heritage in Randolph County.

Illinois Humanities Executive Director Gabrielle Lyon said, “Kaskaskia helped to shape our state’s identity and, in turn, the direction of the entire country. This program gives us a chance to understand how that happened and who shaped it. Most of all it makes time for us to ask ourselves, directly, what do we believe? What do we want? What will it take to form a more perfect Union today?”

Linda Mitchell, executive director of the Metro East Literacy Project, will facilitate the discussion at the Chester Public Library along with Meacham and Fairouz AbuGhazaleh, Illinois Humanities’ director of statewide programs.

NEH's A More Perfect Union logoKaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union is made possible in part by a grant from National Endowment for the Humanities A More Perfect Union initiative.


About Illinois Humanities

Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. Founded in 1974, Illinois Humanities is supported by state, federal, and private funds. Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.