The Illinois Times

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Title: The Illinois Times
City: Champaign, Ill.
County: Champaign
Available online: 14 October 1949 - 20 September 1963 (132 issues)

The Illinois Times was a weekly newspaper, usually issued on Fridays, that ran from 1949 to around 1971. Established in Champaign, Illinois, its founding editor and publisher was Edgar G. Harris. Mrs. Blanche Jamerson Harris, his wife, was actively involved in the paper, acting as the paper's city editor and manager of circulation. Edgar Harris was a member of the B'ahai faith and, according to his obituary found in the May 20, 1975 issue of the Champaign-Urbana News Gazzette, Harris was also a well-known Black educator, a member of the Education Board of Unit 4 Schools in Champaign, and founded the North Carolina Times. Blanche Jamerson Harris was born August 26, 1898 in Champaign and was the daughter of Mr. Andrew and Nannie Ross Jamerson. According to an obituary in the July 17, 1987 issue of the News Gazette, she was a member of the Baha'i Faith. The paper began publication in Danville, Illinois, but was moved to Champaign. From about 1949 to 1967, the couple published the newspaper out of their home (Raymond Bial, In All My Years: Portraits of Older Blacks in Champaign-Urbana, 1983).

The October 14, 1949 issue makes explicit the paper's platform through a numbered list of priorities: "1. Sidewalks and pavements for all sections of our cities; 2. Better sanitation conditions in our cities; 3. End segregation and discrimination in public places; 4. Make Illinois the finest State in which to live." The platform remained the same through 1963. Accordingly, the paper covered news on urban development in Champaign County, including progress reports on various construction projects like the expansion of the Lawhead School, the Bradley Homes public housing project, and the development of Carver Park.

News coverage included a front-page section dedicated to local news in Champaign-Urbana, but the paper also covered regional and national news, especially with news related to the fight for civil rights, against Jim Crow policies and segregation. Local news coverage includes weddings, deaths, illnesses, community social events, and travel. The paper also includes news for and about the Ba'ahai community in Champaign-Urbana. Articles appeared on the activities of local organizations, as well, including the Elks Lodge, the Champaign County Urban League, and the Royalettes Club—a women's civic club dedicated to community improvement.

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