“Fellow citizens, I declare unto you, view it as you may, we are American citizens; by the principles of the Declaration of
Independence, we are American citizens; within the meaning of the United States Constitution, we are American citizens; by the
facts of history, and the admissions of American statesmen, we are American citizens: by the hardships and trials endured; by the
courage and fidelity displayed by our ancestors in defending the liberties and in achieving the independence of our land, we are
John Jones, 1864
In the ﬁght for freedom in 1864 abolitionist and businessman John Jones looked to the achievements of the past as the basis to declare
citizenship in the present. Many at the time opposed him——they did not agree that he or any African American should be a citizen. But
Jones continued to ﬁght and continued to claim citizenship, until it was ﬁnally recognized.
The pages within “The Illinois Freedom Project” web site contain insights into the struggles for freedom in Illinois through stories
of the past as well as insights from young people today. Here, you will ﬁnd stories about communities and neighborhoods; about laws
and justice; about families and leadership; and, about taking a stand.
Together, as Carter G. Woodson said in 1926, “We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.”