The Killion family with Mayor David Goins, Sheila Goins and Alderwoman Rosetta Brown.ALTON - Community members are invited to James H. Killion Park for the third annual James Killion Day to celebrate the park’s namesake and local veterans.

From 1–2 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, 2024, people can meet with the Killion family and enjoy free hotdogs, desserts and refreshments. At 2 p.m., Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow will give a keynote address honoring James Killion Jr. and other veterans. Sheila Goins, chair of the James Killion Beautification & Enhancement Committee, said the event is an important part of keeping Killion’s legacy alive.

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“He was definitely a trailblazer civil rights advocate here in the community,” Goins said. “Because his birthday falls right before Memorial Day, we wanted to celebrate him as a veteran and celebrate those that have lost their lives for this country and incorporate that with his birthday as well.”

Michael “Doc” Holiday will emcee the event, and the Alton High School ROTC will provide the posting of colors. Williams Family White Dove Release will be present for a dove release in honor of veterans and service members who have been lost. Myles Lacey, 11, will offer song selections.

Killion’s “beautiful family” will be in attendance, Goins said. They will likely share more information about Killion and his story. In addition to his time as a Sunday school teacher and Army serviceman, he was the first Black person hired by Laclede Steel, where he also became the first Black officer within the union.

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This is the third James Killion Day, and Goins expects it will continue to be an annual tradition. Also known as Salu Park, the park was renamed for Killion because of his leadership in Alton. Goins hopes that James Killion Day will help people learn more about the man behind the name.

“We just want the purpose of this day to really keep the life and legacy of James Killion Jr. alive, especially to our young people,” Goins said. “He would’ve been 106. So we’ve got kids that are growing up today, they’re playing in that park and playing basketball and they don’t know anything about James Killion, they just know it’s the name of the park.”

It’s important to Goins, who was Killion’s neighbor, and the other members of the James Killion Beautification & Enhancement Committee to share his legacy. Goins said that Morrow, a veteran himself, is also a strong advocate for the event.

“Our relationship flows deep with the upper Alton community, which included the Killions,” Goins added. “Everyone is welcome.”

Alton Mayor David Goins will proclaim May 25, 2024, as James Killion Day in the City of Alton. For more information about the event or to volunteer, contact Sheila Goins at 618-410-0654.

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