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The HistoryMakers ‘Commit’ to schools

Fri, Nov 8, 2013

Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown had picked cotton on her family’s farm and worked as a housekeeper in high school. As a student at Southern Illinois University in 1972, she witnessed riots, which nevertheless motivated her to be the best.

“I went back [to SIU after the riots] and that was a very, very traumatic thing in my life, but a very good experience for me to witness…I am the epitome of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream,” said Brown, who was elected to her position by over a million people in 2000.

Brown, Sylvia Ewing and Glennette Tilley Turner are among Chicago African-Americans participating in the 4th annual “Back to School With The HistoryMakers” September 27. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is chairing the nationwide effort to have more than 500 black leaders speak in 68 cities and 30 states. The theme of the day is “Commit,” with The HistoryMakers’ reflections on personal experiences and struggles on their way to success.

Circuit Clerk Brown will speak at Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School.

Ewing, an author, keynote speaker and host on WVON radio, WTTW and PBS national television, will speak at Bronzeville Military Academy. She said that her elementary and high school education built a foundation for her life and successful career. “Great teachers encouraged me to believe in myself and to be curious about the world around me. I want to do the same for these students as I share my story.”

Tilley Turner was interviewed in StreetWise last February during Black History Month because of her book, “The Underground Railroad in Illinois.” Turner said she will share her encounter with Mrs. Alice Brickler, the great-niece of Harriet Tubman, with students at Beasley Elementary Magnet Academic Center.

Mrs. Brickler grew up in Auburn, NY and used to visit her aunt after school each day. “Learn, learn all you can!” Tubman used to tell Mrs. Brickler. “What you have in your head nobody can take away from you!”

Tilley Turner said that she has heeded that advice herself. She stores whatever she learns to use it for her future. “Often it will help you solve a problem or help make your life dreams come true.”

By Suzanne Hanney
StreetWise Editor-In-Chief

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