Mayor David Goins

ALTON - Community members gathered at James Killion Park in Alton for the third annual James Killion Day on Saturday, May 25, 2024.

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The event honored James Killion Jr., the park’s namesake and a civil rights leader in Alton who would have celebrated his 106th birthday on Saturday. In honor of Memorial Day, speakers also recognized veterans and service members who have been lost. Alton Mayor David Goins proclaimed May 25, 2024, as James Killion Day in the City of Alton.

“[We] recognize it as a day of youth mentorship throughout the city, and further encourage each citizen to take part in mentoring the youth and to provide a fitting memorial to the life and legacy of James Killion Jr.,” Goins said. “This means a lot just to be able to do this and to share this and be in this position, and I know he's smiling down from Heaven, him and Mrs. Killion, who was just an angel in her own right as well.

Members from the Killion family spoke about their father’s legacy. Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow, the event’s keynote speaker, shared more information about Killion and his experience in the Army. In addition to his time as a Sunday school teacher and Army serviceman, Killion was the first Black person hired by Laclede Steel, where he also became the first Black officer within the union. Morrow summarized Killion’s experience in the Army and spoke about the challenges he overcame as a leader.

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“Leaders are not born, they are made,” Morrow said. “What I see in this photo is a leader that his men trusted and respected.”

The day was emceed by Mike “Doc” Holiday, and an opening prayer was given by Rev. Stanley Henderson Sr. The Alton HIgh School ROTC provided the presentation of the colors. Musical selections by 11-year-old Myles Lacey and Matt Edwards rounded out the day. The event concluded with a dove release by Williams Family White Dove Release. The Alton VFW performed “Taps.”

“Our mission here, I believe, is accomplished, but we want to continue to spread the love and Killion’s legacy in Alton, Illinois,” said Sheila Goins, chair of the James Killion Beautification & Enhancement Committee. “We want James Killion Day to stick as a community holiday.”

Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow

Myles Lacey

The Killion Family

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