NORMAL — “Mr. Merlin Kennedy Weekend” will be celebrated Dec. 14-15 by the Bloomington-Normal Branch of the NAACP in collaboration with Normal Uptown Partners.
Kennedy, who died Oct. 18, was a civil rights icon remembered for walking the entire route of the 1966 Twin Cities Christmas parade dressed as the community’s first black Santa. He made the walk in spite of the threat of arrest for doing so.
A new exhibit, "A Community in Conflict," opens Saturday at the McLean County Museum of History. It looks at the history of the Kickapoo tribe, race relations, women's rights, labor disputes and gay rights in McLean County and asks, "Who had the power?"
BLOOMINGTON — A "true hero" to Bloomington-Normal's black community has died.
In 1965 Merlin Kennedy made history when he appeared as a black Santa Claus in the Bloomington Christmas parade. His Santa suit is now part of the McLean County Museum of History's Challenges, Choices & Change: A Community in Conflict" exhibit.