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February 8, 1999


CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today hosted a program celebrating African-American History Month at the James R. Thompson Center.

In conjunction with this year's theme "Salute to Living African-American History", Ryan invited residents from five senior center facilities to participate in the program. Joining Ryan as guest speakers representing "living history" were Chicago Community Activist Geraldine "Gerri" Oliver. Oliver is the owner and operator of the Palm Tavern on 47th Street. The Palm Tavern is a historical landmark built in 1933. Ms. Oliver became owner in 1956. She also was a host at the Original Regal Theater, which was a renown venue for African-American artists performing in Chicago.

In addition to Ms. Oliver, Reverend James Hall and Admiral Walker presented testament to African-American history. Hall was born in 1899 and began his ministry in 1944. Admiral Walker was born in 1898 and had a 7-year career in baseball's Negro Leagues. He was a teammate of pitcher Satchel Paige before Paige went on to a successful career in Major League Baseball.

Reverend B. Herbert Martin, pastor of Progressive Community Church in Chicago and Reverend Willie Jordan, pastor of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Cathedral in Harvey also assisted in the celebration. WGCI Radio personalities Sasha Dalton and Richard Steele served as emcees for the program. Musical selections were performed by gospel artists Bryant Jones and Chosen.


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