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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler is leading a measure to bring awareness of the history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois through the creation of a task force.

“This task force will highlight the rich history the Underground Railroad has in Illinois,” said Koehler (D-Peoria). “The Underground Railroad is a symbol of determination in search of freedom and justice for African Americans throughout the 1800s.”

Senate Bill 1623 would establish the Underground Railroad Task Force. The group would develop a statewide plan to connect existing local projects and new projects to create a cohesive statewide history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois, while developing new educational and tourism opportunities.

This bill was initiated by Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman. This bipartisan effort will focus on identifying where historical sites are located, connections they may have to one another, and will illustrate the history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois.

“This task force will provide new opportunities to teach our children how slavery impacted our state, and how leaders throughout Illinois took charge to help slaves find freedom,” said Koehler. “These opportunities give our schools the ability to teach students the severity and consequences slavery had on our state and nation.”

Senate Bill 1623 passed the Senate State Government Committee Wednesday. It now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.