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Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

In 1894 and 1895, Frances Willard, the renowned president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and Ida B. Wells, the prominent journalist and anti-lynching activist, fought a war of words in the international press. In 1890, Willard had made racist statements in a newspaper interview while in Atlanta, Georgia for a WCTU convention. Four…

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Ask Geoffrey: When Ida B. Wells Met Frances Willard

2020 is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which secured women’s right to vote. Next Tuesday, “The Vote,” a major two-part PBS documentary about the long fight for women’s suffrage premieres on WTTW, which we thought gave us a great opportunity to talk about a related conflict between two famous local…

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In Illinois, political lies are evidence that Black lives don’t matter much

Black lives matter, but maybe not so much if you are among Illinois’ political leaders or Chicago’s business elite. Last week, a group of local political leaders representing Cook County’s south suburbs, some of the poorest in the nation, called on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to pressure Amazon to invest in a South Suburban Airport near…

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The Black Women Who Paved the Way for This Moment

In cities across the United States, black activists are denouncing state-sanctioned violence and demanding radical changes to American policing. Black women leaders occupy a central role in these movements. Utilizing public spaces—such as city parks and streets—they are advocating for equality and justice and giving voice to historical truths many Americans find uncomfortable. From the…

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Why Harriet Tubman’s Heroic Military Career Is Now Easier to Envision

On June 1 and 2, 1863, Harriet Tubman made history—again. After escaping slavery in 1849 and subsequently rescuing more than 70 other slaves during her service as an Underground Railroad conductor, she became the first woman in American history to lead a military assault. The successful Combahee Ferry Raid freed more than 700 slaves in…

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