Timeline: 1856

Edward A. Green (1840-1870), a freeman, became one of the first African American settlers in West Urbana (now Champaign). A carpenter by trade, in 1858 he began purchasing parcels of land, ending up with approximately 14 lots in both Champaign and Urbana. Green’s daughter Gertrude inherited his property after his death. The family moved to Springfield, IL, in 1900.

Opening of the Illinois Central Railroad. From its beginning, the IC played an instrumental role in African Americans moving from the southern United States to Champaign-Urbana and beyond. It provided transport for the Underground Railroad, and employment during Reconstruction, the Great Migration, and the Civil Rights era, until its acquisition by Canadian National Railway in 1998.