Barry McNamara  |   Published January 28, 2022

‘Champion for Change’

Theme of Monmouth’s Black History Month events pays tribute to Champion Miller, a distinguished member of local community in the 1800s.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College’s celebration of Black History Month in February pays tribute to an important local figure from the 19th century.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Campus events in February will include several opportunities for 'powerf... BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Campus events in February will include several opportunities for 'powerful' discussions.This year’s theme “Champion for Change” honors Champion Miller, a Black man who was a distinguished member of the Monmouth community. The College recently started the Champion Miller 1860 Fund, which supports several initiatives, including: lectures; student programming; support for recruiting a diverse student body, faculty and staff; and diversity training for the campus community.

Unless otherwise noted, the “Champion for Change” events will be held in the main lounge of the College’s Center for Intercultural Life, located in the 700 block of East Broadway across the street from the Center for Science and Business.

The events will begin the week of Jan. 31 with the first of five conversations about former NFL player Emmanuel Acho’s book Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. Those discussions, which will take place in-person and via Zoom, will continue through Feb. 28. (Final times will be posted on the Intercultural Life’s social media and web pages.)

On Feb. 1, the question “What Does Black History Month Mean in 2022?” will be addressed at 7 p.m. during a one-hour event.

“We’ll be talking about why we celebrate Black History Month and how we can continue to be a champion for change every day,” said Monmouth Director of Multicultural Student Services Regina Johnson.

REGINA JOHNSON: Monmouth alumna serves as her alma mater's director of Multicultural Student ... REGINA JOHNSON: Monmouth alumna serves as her alma mater's director of Multicultural Student Services.The final segment of the movie series When They See Us will be shown at 7 p.m. Feb. 15, with a discussion to follow about “the New Jim Crow and mass incarcerations,” said Johnson.

More in-person discussion will be part of the program “Navigating Change through Hard Conversations: How Gender & Intersectionality Impact How We Communicate with Each Other,” which will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 28. Trudi Peterson, coordinator of the College’s women’s studies program and chair of the department of communication studies, will facilitate the discussion.

Three Monmouth alumni are part of this year’s virtual Black History Month programming, including a Martin Luther King Jr. Day talk already presented by Ed Wimp ’12.

Harvey Echols ’81 will speak to the Monmouth student organization Men of Distinction on Feb. 7, and College Historian Jeff Rankin will join Charles Burton ’92 for a 6 p.m. Feb. 23 program titled “Scots Fighting for Change.”

“This powerful event will take a reflective and intentional look at how activism has always been part of the fabric of Monmouth College,” said Johnson. “Charles will share how he was called to help organize a march on Ferguson, Missouri. Jeff will guide the audience through the history of social activism and activists tied to Monmouth College.”

“Charles (Burton) will share how he was called to help organize a march on Ferguson, Missouri. Jeff (Rankin) will guide the audience through the history of social activism and activists tied to Monmouth College.” Regina Johnson

Other Black History Month events will include a students-only Super Bowl community-building event on Feb. 13, the third annual Men of Color Retreat on Feb. 26 and a Soul Food Sunday and game night on Feb. 27.

Born a slave, Champion Miller came to Monmouth from Kentucky after having purchased his freedom in 1848 for $600 (the equivalent of around $20,000 today). He later purchased the freedom of his wife and two children.

Miller was taught to read and write by William T. Moffet, a student of the Monmouth Theological Society, which operated in conjunction with Monmouth College from 1858-74.

Miller was instrumental in the organization of the First African Church of Monmouth, which was founded by Monmouth College President David Wallace in 1865, and which later became Fourth United Presbyterian Church. After that congregation was disbanded in 1871, he attended First United Presbyterian Church, which was organized by the founders of Monmouth College in 1853.

Miller died on June 9, 1882, at his Monmouth home. He and his wife are buried in Monmouth.

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