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PRESS RELEASE: Gallatin County and Southeastern IL History and Experiences Focus of August 20 Online Event

IL State Senator Dale Fowler, Former SIU President and Congressman Glenn Poshard, and former Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon to Participate

CHICAGO, August 19, 2020 — Illinois Humanities will open its 2020 season of Country and City: Common Ground in the Prairie State? with “People, Places and Power: Gallatin County Edition on Thursday, August 20 at 7pm via its YouTube channel (

The online program, which will focus on Gallatin County, will explore the tensions between population distribution and allocation of political power and public resources. The program is part of the Illinois Humanities program series, The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State?, which addresses issues affecting rural and urban Illinoisans.

“Gallatin County is remarkably historic and scenic. We wish the pandemic weren’t preventing us from being there in person,” said Gabrielle Lyon, executive director of Illinois Humanities. “Gallatin is one of fifteen Illinois counties that already existed when Illinois became a state in 1818. Shawneetown and Equality were among the most important towns in Illinois during the first several decades of its statehood before they were eclipsed by cities like Springfield and Chicago. The county’s evolution illuminates the dramatic changes in population and shifts in political power that have been occurring in Illinois. Understanding our state’s history can really help us also understand our present – what divides us and what we share.” Future programs in the series will focus on Fulton County and Chicago. Each program will feature a location within Illinois where that relationship and issues arising from it seem especially significant.

The program will begin by exploring the significance of Gallatin County within the history of Illinois, narrated by regional historian Todd Carr, and featuring Christy Short and Joe Patrick of the Gallatin County Historical Society. John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, will moderate a panel discussion about rural-urban dynamics in Illinois politics, past and present, and their role in many rural southern Illinois counites’ shift from predominantly Democratic to predominantly Republican in recent decades.

Panelists include Rhonda Belford, a regional civic leader and Hardin County Republican Central Committee chairperson; Dale Fowler, state senator from Illinois’s 59th District; Ameya Pawar, a former Chicago alderman, former gubernatorial candidate, and policy expert; Glenn Poshard, who represented much of southern Illinois in Congress in the 1990s; and Sheila Simon, who served as lieutenant governor from 2011 to 2015.

Members and alumni of Southeastern Illinois College’s award-winning Model Illinois Government team will debate the advantages and disadvantages of the Electoral College from the perspectives of rural Illinoisans.

Travis DeNeal, editor of the Harrisburg Register and contributor to the Gallatin Democrat, and Molly Parker, investigative and general-assignment reporter with The Southern Illinoisan, will discuss local and regional issues on which they have reported and the ways in which experiences of rural communities are similar – and dissimilar- to those experienced by people in more urban settings.

Photography by local artists Christy Short and Gary DeNeal, and music performed by Illinois Humanities Road Scholar Chris Vallillo highlight the natural beauty and the cultural richness of Gallatin County.

Illinois Humanities is presenting “People, Places, and Power: Gallatin County Edition” in cooperation with the Gallatin County Historical Society, the Ohio River Scenic Byway Visitors Center in Equality, and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the Mellon Foundation.


About Illinois Humanities
Illinois Humanities activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. Illinois Humanities is a nonprofit organization and the state’s affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.