DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Members of the Decatur community came together on Friday to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new STEAM academy.
It’s being dedicated to Ellsworth Dansby, Jr. for not only his work in Decatur, but also around the world.
Some in the community call Dansby an iconic man. His legacy includes being one of the first Black men to graduate from Millikin University and being a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. He later came back to Decatur to campaign for civil rights and end racial discrimination.
“He worked very hard to keep equality and to say and help reduce discrimination to prove the good in all people,” said Dansby’s son Elsworth Dansby III.
From 1968 to 1971, Dansby took a different route to reach people while continuing pushing for change. He joined the Decatur School Board and the Board of Directors for Decatur and Macon County.
“We would go out and meet with schools all over Illinois and all over Indiana as well to encourage this desegregation, this spirit of equality,” Dansby III said.
The Ellsworth Dansby Jr. Magnet school will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“It helps enlighten kids because that’s what Grandpa Dansby really was about,” said Dansby’s step granddaughter. “He was all about educating people.”
Dansby III said the school should be finished by this time next year.