Rick Brooks

Cofounder, Little Free Library

When you visit Princeton, Illinois these days you’re likely to see a mural on Main Street that says “Be Like Lovejoy,” and you might wonder… what it’s all about? 

It’s about a preacher, lawyer and Congressman named Owen Lovejoy.  From the 1830s to the 1860s he was a tireless advocate for the abolition of slavery. In fact, he may have accomplished as much as Abraham Lincoln did on behalf of those who suffered through slavery. He risked his life for them.

The Lovejoy Homestead in Princeton was a station on the Underground Railroad, and he meant what he said about it: “No human being, black or white, bond or free, native or foreign, infidel or Christian, ever came to my door and asked for food and shelter…who did not receive it.”

If Lovejoy were alive today, he would call us out when we assert that we are above racism. Here’s why. The same values that accepted slavery for the past 400 years still affect our everyday lives. Those prejudices are not limited to skin color. 

Owen Lovejoy’s example stands out. It reminds us of what we can do, now, to ensure everyone’s rights. Our rights.  Whether the issue is about race, gender or anything else, we would do well to be like Owen Lovejoy.

Find someone whose integrity, words and deeds you respect, and be like that person.