Prairie State Women

I often travel through the Chicago O'Hare airport which triggered thoughts about women from Illinois and their contributions through history. I have already written specifically about women from the Windy City of Chicago. Here are some more amazing women with ties to the Prairie State. Match the woman with her contribution:

____ 1. The daughter of a Pullman car waiter, she became the first African-American woman in the Presidential cabinet and to serve as an Ambassador.
____ 2. Wrote The House on Mango Street, a coming of age story set in Chicago, that has sold over six million copies.
____ 3. The first American to win gold medals in three successive Olympic events and the first American woman to win five gold medals.
____ 4. The playwright who wrote A Raisin in the Sun, a play about a struggling black family.
____ 5. One of the first minority activists who worked to better working conditions for women, minorities and laborers.

A. Lucy Parsons
B. Lorraine Hansberry
C. Sandra Cisneros
D. Patricia Roberts Harris
E. Bonnie Blair

Active in the labor movement in Chicago, anarchist and communist Lucy Parsons is remembered for her participation in what is now called the Haymarket Affair in 1886. One of the first minority activists, Parsons (also known at times as Gonzalez) was a champion for women, minorities, and laborers. After her husband's execution for his role in a bombing related to the Haymarket Affair, she established a newspaper which shone a negative light on lynching and sharecropping. She was a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry was born in Chicago. The first African-American and the youngest playwright to win the New York Critics' Circle Award, Hansberry is best known for A Raisin in the Sun, a play about a struggling black family, which opened in 1959. Made into a movie in 1961, Sidney Poitier was its star. The granddaughter of a freed slave, Hansberry, following her parents' legacy, was active in the civil rights movement. In 2004 and 2014, revivals of A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway, and won Tony awards.

MacArthur Foundation Fellow writer Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago and graduated from Loyola University of Chicago. Her 1984 prize-winning publication The House on Mango Street, a coming of age novel set in Chicago, has sold over six million copies and is required reading across the U.S. Her books have been translated into many languages and she has made her living writing for over twenty years.

Born in Mattoon, Illinois, Patricia Roberts Harris became the first African-American woman to hold a Presidential cabinet position, head a law school, and serve as U.S. Ambassador. The daughter of a Pullman car waiter, Harris attended Howard University on scholarship and later completed her law degree. A committed activist, Harris broke barriers when she became the U.S. Ambassador to Luxemburg in 1965. When appointed the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, she became the first African-American woman in the Presidential Cabinet. A true pioneer, Harris has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Raised in Champaign, Illinois, speed skater Bonnie Blair has six Olympic medals to her credit. She is the first American to win gold medals in three successive Olympic events (1988, 1992, 1994) and the first American woman to win five gold medals. Blair began skating at a young age and competed in her first Olympics at age 19. Inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, Blair is deemed one of the top female athletes ever.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women with ties to the Prairie State of Illinois are profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We are indebted to them for their significant and enduring contributions.

(Answers 1-D, 2-C, 3-E, 4-B, 5-A )