Twenty local Chicago-area women were honored as “Freedom’s Sisters” last Saturday at the DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Pl.
Freedom’s Sisters is an exhibit, created by the Cincinnati Museum Center and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The national tour is made possible by the Ford Motor Company Fund, and the Chicago presentation is supported, in part, by the Chicago Park District. The Chicago Freedom Sisters Program was sponsored by Macy’s, with additional support from the Chicago Defender and WVON-AM Radio.
West Side activists Vera Davis and Brenetta Howell Barrett were among the honorees.
“It was truly a humbling experience to have been selected as a Freedom Sister,” Davis said. “As I looked at the traveling Freedom Sisters’ exhibit at DuSable, I was so impressed by the women shown and their accomplishments. Many of them made contributions that changed the course of America. Women such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune and the others chosen have made such an important impact, as trailblazers, on our history. Their contributions have made life much better for all of us. These women epitomize courage and steadfastness as they fought against injustice even when their lives were at risk.
“The list of women chosen from Chicago is an equally impressive group. When I walked into DuSable Museum and was met by Dr. Carol L. Adams, Brenetta Howell-Barrett, Rev. Willie T. Barrow, Pat Hill and all the other outstanding women, you could have knocked me over with a feather. All of the written biographies and the remarks made as they acknowledged each sister were amazing, and I just could not believe that I was in the same league with these great women. All that I have done through my service as the wife of Congressman Danny Davis, an educator in the Chicago Public Schools, officer in the Chicago Westside Branch NAACP, Carey Tercentenary African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Tau Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has been a labor of love for humanity.”
Howell-Barrett said, “I felt very humble, proud and honored to be in the company of nationally known women such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, as well as the Chicago women. I worked in the ’50s and ’60s with some of the honorees, so I was happy to be in their company once again. (Howell-Barrett served as a cabinet member for Gov. Dan Walker and Mayor Harold Washington. As a West Side resident she developed minority busnesses with the Chicago Economic Development Corp. and organized the West Side Builders Assoc.)
The exhibition continues through April 4, 2010 at the museum. Dr. Margaret Burroughs, a poet, author and teacher, founded DuSable Museum in 1961.