DECATUR — Family and friends of Roger Walker gathered Thursday at the road named for the former Macon County sheriff to celebrate his legacy.
It was the third annual remembrance ceremony at the intersection of Mound Road and Illinois 48, the highway that state lawmakers voted in 2017 to designate as Sheriff Roger E. Walker Memorial Road.
When he became Macon County sheriff in 1998, Walker became the first black sheriff elected in Illinois. An Eisenhower High School and Richland Community College graduate, Walker would go on to serve as the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. He died in 2012.
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Participants on Thursday blew bubbles, with organizers having scrapped an earlier plan to release balloons because of environmental concerns.
"We will continue to find ways in the future to celebrate his service to this community and the state of Illinois as the first African-American sheriff," said Anthony Corey Walker, the state president of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and a nephew of the late Walker, in a prior statement. "We welcome the community to share feedback and help us to improve each year's celebration of a man who made priceless contributions to our great community."
The dedication is the culmination of efforts by the Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and the Greater Decatur Black Chamber of Commerce to ensure that Walker's legacy was honored.