Hidden History: Three Kings of Peace

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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — An organization focused on promoting peace has only been around for a few years, but already they have made big strides in changing the course of black history in Vermilion County.

In recent years, the community has been filled with gun violence and quite a bit of it is “black on black” violence. That is why the Three Kings of Peace said they are ruling with kindness, compassion and encouragement. They said their hope is to stop the recent trend toward violence and help create a community that everyone is proud to live in, no matter their skin color.

Ed Butler & Frank McCullough with Three Kings of Peace visit a Danville classroom.

Edward Butler, Frank McCullough and Jerry Hawker are the men known to Danville as the Three Kings of Peace. These three people work tirelessly to correct a common issue shaking their community. “We said, ‘Man, we need to do something about this shooting and all this domestic violence,” said Butler. “A high rate has been black on black crime. So we’re trying to do out best to let folks know that we oughta have love and not treat each other that way,” said McCullough. Especially now, during Black History Month, as they acknowledge, this is not just happening here. “Dr. Martin Luther King probably today would be rolling around in his grave if he knew all that he’d done to try to bring peace and equity within our community,” said McCullough.

The Three Kings of Peace believe the way to solve violence is love, community engagement, embracing youth and in the way the group started…faith. “Let’s find seven locations and at that time, we’d do seven prayers and do it for seven days,” said Butler. A lot of what they do has a biblical reference and everything they do is based in faith.

Three Kings Frank McCullough, Ed Butler and BoBo Smalls pray with three children.

These men contribute a substantial amount of time working in schools and with kids. “It’s working. We find kids jobs,” said Butler. “So they get out on the job after 16.” The group also organizes community marches and orchestrates any way possible to change someone’s life.

A big part of their work is honoring the legacy of one of their founding members, BoBo Smalls. “Yeah, BoBo was was the elder of us all,” said McCullough. “He was a gentle person.” He continued to say that Smalls even marched with Dr. Marthin Luther King, Jr.

Pictured: Nate “BoBo” Smalls. The founding member of the Three Kings of Peace died in July 2019.

Jerry Hawker is the newest member of the Three Kings. He said he knows he is marching in some pretty big shoes. “Well, it’s humbling, number one, because he was such a giant figure here in Danville,” said Hawker. “Everybody knew BoBo. The kids especially.” He is determined as are McCullough and Butler to show that there is more to their kingdom than meets the eye. “To show that the Three Kings of Peace is a community, not just a black community,” said Hawker. “It’s the entire city and the area.” The Three Kings of Peace also involve students in their mission. They are calling kids who come on board with it the Princes and Princesses of Peace.

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