Red Bud, IL (PRWEB) December 10, 2006
AAUW-IL, Inc., the Illinois division of the American Association of University Women (http://www.aauw-il.org), applauds Governor Rod Blagojevich's decision to name December 10 "Jane Addams Day" in Illinois. On May 21, 2006, Blagojevich signed legislation (effective January 1, 2007) making December 10, 2007 one of the first days commemorating a woman in the entire United States.
When Blagojevich signed HB 5243, he brought to fruition two years of dedicated work by Dongola (IL) Unit School teacher Cindy Vines and her team of five students (John Cauble, Katie Forcht, Brittany Lannom, Jennifer Medlin, and Chayse Swink). It all started when Ms. Vines asked students in her eighth-grade social studies class to "do a project that would make a difference." The five students decided their goal was to advocate for a state holiday honoring Addams after discovering that there were no state or national holidays honoring women anywhere in the United States.
After months of effort, but little concrete progress to show for it, Lelia Marvin, President of the AAUW Carbondale (IL) Branch, suggested that they call District #115 Representative Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro). According to Vines, Marvin told her: "I've worked with Mike and I know we can trust him. If he doesn't think we can get this done, he'll tell us so." On January 9, 2006, Ms. Medlin, Ms. Marvin, and Ms. Vines met with Representative Bost in his Carbondale office. Impressed with their enthusiasm as well as their compelling case, Rep. Bost agreed to support their project. When the Spring '06 legislative session began one week later, Rep. Bost called on House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, leading Currie to introduce HB 5243 on January 27. On April 12, after having passed in both the House and the Senate under the watchful eye of AAUW-Illinois lobbyist Paula Johnson Purdue, HB 5243 was sent up to the governor's desk for his signature.
Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois on September 6, 1860. She is best known as the founder of Hull House, offering women the opportunity to become agents for social, political, educational, and economic change in their own lives and in the lives of others as well. On December 10, 1931, Addams became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Peace, honoring her work as the leader of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In awarding her the Prize, Halvdan Koht declared Addams to be "the leading woman in the nation, one might almost say its leading citizen." Additionally, Addams was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She fought to stop child labor and was active in the suffrage and pacifist movements. Addams died in Chicago on May 21, 1935.
As soon as they heard about the Dongola students' project, multiple AAUW Carbondale (IL) Branch members (including Public Policy Chair Olga Weidner and Professor Joan McDermott, Director of SIU-Carbondale's Women's Studies program) were quick to provide encouragement and support. Jane Addams was a founding member of the AAUW Chicago (IL) Branch in 1889, a fact well known in Carbondale (where a monograph prepared by Chicago Branch members in 1976 was part of the background kit). "I used it in teaching my high school American History classes," said branch member Bonnie Heidinger, "and Cindy Vines told me it was one of the best sources she had on Addams." AAUW's mission statement ("equity for all women and girls, lifelong education, and positive societal change") articulates values that Addams clearly shared from the very beginning. By working so tirelessly on this effort, the students have succeeded in making a new generation more aware of the work Addams started so long ago and that AAUW continues today.
AAUW-Illinois members are eager to continue their long and historically-fertile association with Addams, and plans are already underway for statewide programs culminating in the celebration of the first "official" commemorative day on December 10, 2007. First up is an AAUW Chicago (IL) Branch program on February 10, 2007. According to coordinator Jan Lisa Huttner, Director of International Relations for AAUW-Illinois and a twenty-five year member of Chicago Branch, "our goal is to make sure everyone knows to mark December 10, 2007 on their calendars right away; great things will happen in Illinois on that date!" The February program will be held at DePaul University's downtown campus, and will include a screening of the documentary "Dinner at Jane's" (filmed at Hull House in 1993).
The American Association of University Women, with its nationwide network of more than 100,000 members, 1,300 branches, and 500 college and university partners, has been a leading advocate for equity and education for women and girls since 1881. AAUW proudly celebrates its 125th anniversary this year―a legacy of leadership. Visit the website and the online museum at http://www.aauw.org.
For more information, contact Jennifer Urish, Media/Communications Manager, AAUW-IL Inc.