#138: Unveiling Alkebulan: Dr. Leonard Porter’s Quest Through Black History

In this episode of the Kankakee Podcast, we sit down with Dr. Leonard Porter to weave together the threads of our past, exploring the rich tapestry of Black history. As we honor Black History Month, join us for an expedition through time with the esteemed Dr. Porter.

The Journey Through Black History

Our honorable guest, Dr. Leonard Porter, invites us on a quest that traces the lineage and legacy of Black history. With Kankakee as our backdrop, Dr. Porter opens up about his mission to educate and enlighten, bringing forth stories that resound with both triumph and tribulation.

A Lifelong Dedication to Community

“It’s not just about the houses; it’s about rebuilding lives.” Dr. Porter’s profound commitment shines through as he discusses his extensive work with group homes and recovery homes. His tales of the individuals he’s supported reveal the resilience and spirit of those seeking a second chance at life. A former prisoner-turned-gardener and his touching connection to his family from Georgia is just one of the powerful narratives Dr. Porter imparts.

A Legacy Personal and Profound

Dr. Porter recounts a stirring anecdote handed down from his father concerning his grandmother, a brutal reminder of slavery’s inhumanity. “She bore the scars, both physical and emotional—scars that have underscored my pursuit of understanding our past.”

The Positive Aspects of A Painful History

Shifting the narrative, Dr. Porter delves into the lesser-acknowledged positives within Black history: resilience, strength, and the profound contributions to our nation’s fabric. He passionately speaks about turning points, like the murder of Emmett Till, that have compelled him to engage with history on a deeper level, drawing a line from the events of the past to the community activism of today.

Emmett Till’s Legacy Continues

“My work… it’s also about keeping the stories alive,” Dr. Porter expresses while recounting his relationship with Emmett Till’s cousin, Simeon Wright, offering insights and truths far removed from the Hollywood portrayals of these pivotal historical events.

Alkebulan Echoes Through Kankakee

Dr. Porter shares the origin and significance of “Alkebulan”—a name symbolizing the cradle of humanity, Africa itself. He sheds light on the challenges and triumphs of establishing the Akubalan History Center in Kankakee, a repository of memories and a beacon of enlightenment.

Controversial, Thought-Provoking Exhibits

“The hangman’s noose, the confederate flags—they’re not just artifacts. They’re prompts for conversation, for education,” Dr. Porter insists, describing the more sensitive exhibitions at his museum. His commitment to showcasing all aspects of Black history, even its darkest, bolsters our understanding of the past’s pervading influence on the present.

Preserving and Celebrating Our History

In wrapping up, our dialogue with Dr. Porter is a stark reminder of the past’s enduring echoes and the vital role history plays in shaping our community’s future. His dedication to the preservation and celebration of Black history is a clarion call to all of us to remember, reflect, and recognize the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans.

As always, we extend our deepest gratitude to our dedicated Patreon supporters, who make episodes like this possible. If Dr. Porter’s stories captivated you, please consider subscribing to the Kankakee Podcast and following us on social media for more enlightening discussions.

Signing off, this is Jake LaMore, infused with historical wisdom and a renewed appreciation for the collective journey of our ancestors. Keep your minds open and the conversations going. More stories from the heart of Kankakee County await!

Until next time, stay informed, stay curious, and—most importantly—stay connected.

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2 responses to “#138: Unveiling Alkebulan: Dr. Leonard Porter’s Quest Through Black History”

  1. Dr. Porter has always been a very deep, compassionate and educated black man dedicated not only to black history, but also his own roots. Dr. Leonard Porter is someone you should know.

  2. A great history lesson, Dr. Porter and an incredible legacy! Thanks for opening the Arts Museum at Arkansas Baptist College and for sharing your history with others.