Timeline: 1941

January 14: Contralto Marian Anderson performs at Foellinger Auditorium for Star Course at the University of Illinois. Throughout the years after World War II, several important Black musicians and leaders either performed or lectured there. They include Duke Ellington (1948), Ralph Bunche (1949), Dick Gregory (1967), and Julian Bond (1968).

March 22: The first all-Black fighter squadron was activated at Chanute Field in Rantoul, IL, to train officer corps and ground support personnel.  Originally named the 99th Pursuit Squadron, it later became known as the Tuskegee Airman.

Julia Walden Valentine opened her music studio in her home on east Park Street in Champaign. A trained classical pianist and music teacher, she taught voice, and instruments to children and teens in the neighborhood, couched adults, and held soirees.

Jazz trombonist, composer and arranger, Gerald “Jerry” Graham Valentine (1914-1983) moved to Chicago from Champaign to play and arrange for Earl “Father” Hines. Raised in Champaign, he worked for National Records and repertory adviser and artist in the 1950s. At his death he was worth between $5–10 million.