information provided by the Office of the Governor
CHICAGO, Ill. (February 27, 2019) — Governor JB Pritzker hosted a Black History Month Celebration this morning, honoring the work that organizations and leaders are doing in communities across the state.
The following is an excerpt of the governor’s remarks:
A century ago a black woman named Ida B. Wells rose to the frontlines of the movement for civil rights and became a force in fighting the injustices of her time.
She made a deep and lasting impact on our city and our state, fighting for black equality in the women’s suffrage movement, speaking out on racial segregation in our schools — a dangerous thing to do as she did it — and helping elect the first black alderman to the Chicago City Council.
In her unyielding fight to confront injustice with truth, Wells forever changed our city. And as of this summer, anyone in Chicago can now drive down Ida B. Wells Drive, the first downtown street named for an African-American woman, and a reminder of the many ways Ida B. Wells left her mark on our city.
The history of Illinois began with, is defined by and continues to be transformed by the black community. From Jean Baptiste Point DuSable to Barack Obama, Gwendolyn Brooks to Oprah Winfrey, Carol Moseley Brown to Harold Washington, the cultural impact, political leadership and social justice advocacy of African Americans are intrinsic to our history as a city and as a state.
Today and every day we honor not just that history, but those who are writing the next chapter. Yesterday, once again, history was made when two black women became the runoff candidates for mayor of the city of Chicago.
Across our state, leaders are standing on the shoulders of those who came before them and blazing a new trail. They’re lifting up communities that have historically been forgotten. They’re making a difference by helping people lead better lives. And they are honoring our past and making sure its lessons guide us forward and transform us.
I have built an administration that is your partner, lifting up all the good that organizations and leaders are doing in our communities and across our state, and letting it guide us forward. Today, I want to take a moment to honor three such leaders and organizations.
For 35 years, victims of domestic violence have had an advocate, a partner and a friend in Joyce Coffee. As the CEO and Executive Director of Family Rescue, Joyce has driven the work to innovate and diversify the services and programs that are offered to victims and their families. From community outreach programs to mixed-gender support groups, transitional living to court advocacy, Family Rescue has now served over 80,000 victims of domestic violence and their children. For her dedication and commitment to serving victims and working to bring an end to domestic violence throughout our state, I’m so proud to present this certificate to Joyce Coffee.
The Black Fire Brigade defines what it means to both honor our history and ensure its lessons guide our future. The first organization of its kind in the country, the Brigade recognizes the history and contributions of African-American first responders while ensuring those that are currently serving get the support they need. With continuing education, networking opportunities and public advocacy, the Brigade lifts up those on the frontlines, keeping our communities safe and protected. They deserve such great respect for preparing people for that opportunity.
Melanie Anewishki founded Featherfist to serve the homeless community in 1984. In its early years, the organization served less than 50 people. Today, Melanie and Featherfist serve 4,500. Every day, Featherfist provide services, case management and outreach to those experiencing homelessness, helping lift so many up and into permanent housing. 2019 marks 35 years of this essential work, and for her decades of passionate dedication to our city and its families, I’m so proud to present this certificate to Melanie and the organization.