Volume 9, No. 4 – April 2022
In this issue
• Meet community activist Rochelle Jackson
      • Quotes from local author, Rebecca Sive
      • Update: Honoring Fritz Pollard
Rochelle Jackson:
Advocate of the North Lawndale Community

by Christi Babayeju
Born in North Lawndale, Rochelle Jackson is a pillar of her neighborhood. Graduating from Wilbur Wright College and Harper College, Ms. Jackson utilized her background to pursue a career in social work. She has spent nearly thirty years working at the Juvenile Protective Association, JPA, as an administrative specialist. Furthermore, Ms. Jackson is a Research Assistant and has extensive involvement in The Capella Project, a twenty-year study of high-risk families. Outside of work, Ms. Jackson is heavily involved in improving transportation safety and equality. Notably, Ms. Jackson serves as a Chair of the Transportation/ Infrastructure Committee of the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (NLCCC), won Advocate of the Year from the Active Transportation Alliance, and volunteers on the Mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council. 

What would you say is the most significant consequence of disproportionate access to transportation?

Ms. Jackson: The consequence for us is people losing their jobs. Unemployment causes violence because when people don't have a job, they don't have any hope, and they start turning into… you know, different people. That's just my opinion; not saying it happens to everybody, but you know it takes away jobs. That was a no-brainer for us to think about. When transportation is no longer accessible for you; there is no longer a way to get to work. If you don't have a car, you have to go out of your way or a roundabout way to get to work. They create the bus stops for communities that don't really need them, but you take away the bus routes from communities that do. 

Who would you say is one of the most prominent influences in your life?

Ms. Jackson: My sixth-grade teacher was a big influence. She was like a second mother to me. She always groomed us to be young ladies: present yourself like a lady, fight when you need to fight, and walk away from a fight you know you can't win. She never meant it in a physical sense, always in a mental sense. You pick and choose the fight. The ones you see you can't win, you walk away from them. You can choose to fight another fight…that was always a big influence for me, from her. 

Outside of all your community work, what are some of your hobbies?

Ms. Jackson: I crochet a lot. I teach two crochet classes in North Lawndale; one at the Douglas Library and one recently at Franklin Park. I make a lot of hats for my project. I started a Hats for the Homeless project several years ago. So I would make a lot of hats and donate them to the homeless shelter. I would have somebody deliver them for me because I am not one of those people who have to take pictures and say, "oh look what I can do" or "look what I did for this place." People just get my hats, and that's all I care about. 
Rebecca Sive: A Woman with a Mission

by Jackie Kirley
Rebecca Sive’s mission is to encourage ordinary women to join the public sphere and to pursue their dreams of justice and equality. Sive believes that including women’s voices and the voices of other marginalized people will offer more opportunities to achieve justice and equality.   

Rebecca Sive has an extensive history in the public sphere. She has been appointed to public commissions, such as the Illinois Human Rights Commission; developed women’s issues agendas for Presidents Clinton and Obama; founded and worked with nonprofits; lectured; and has written three books.  

  1. Every Day is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House. 2013
  2. Vote Her InYour Guide to Electing Our First Woman President. 2018
  3. Make Herstory Your Story: Your Guided Journal to Justice Every Day for Every Woman. 2022

Each book is designed to motivate and inspire women to take charge of not only their own lives but to think BIGGER as to what they want to see in public policy, and then to pursue it. 

While Sive is motivational and inspirational, she is also intensely practical. As she writes, “Making great speeches isn’t a substitute for knowing who your voters are and getting them to turn out on Election Day. Believing in worthy causes isn’t a substitute for sensible policy solutions.” (1: 5).  

WWHP’s mission to preserve and promote the stories of women who have worked for justice and equality complements Sive’s passion. Currently, WWHP is 

  • planning an event to argue that care – of children, the elderly, and the disabled –  belongs as social infrastructure and to introduce some women who do the work

  • working with a Chicago woman who fought successfully to revive a Chicago city bus route to plan an event on the importance of public transportation and to honor women working towards that goal

  • part of a group that has planned to erect a statue in Chicago of Mother Jones, the legendary labor organizer.

In 2020 and 2021 WWHP, with others, produced an event on the typically-ignored historical role of African Americans in the suffrage movement and produced 3 webinars featuring Chicago women speaking about progressive women and political values.  

In this election year of 2022, WWHP decided the time was right to publish some of Sive’s advice and wisdom. She has generously allowed WWHP to select excerpts from her books. Each quotation is followed by book number and page number.

* * * * * * *

“Our first step in this great journey to achieving justice for every woman and girl begins with imagining the place you want to be at the end of your journey—imagining how Your Story will read. What do I want to have achieved for myself; for other women, for girls?  What are the steps I need to take to achieve this goal? Who will I need-and-want-by my side as I make this journey to making Herstory? What new skills do I want to have once I’ve made this journey?” 3:1

“You have to go with your strength to win, even if your strength is generally perceived as a negative quality.” For example, being considered ‘argumentative.’  “. . . [M]ake the best of it . . . Say “I speak frankly because I care so much. I would be remiss on behalf of my organization, or constituents and others who suffer just like them, if I weren’t.”  1:76-77

“The louder you speak, the more people will hear you—and, therefore, the more people will be able to consider what you have to say and even join your project. Using your outside voice is a good way to quickly gather others around you who also care deeply about the project you’re imagining. It tells them you value your work.”  3:8
“Volunteering is a misnomer—anything you devote time to is work, whether you get paid or not. When deciding whether or not to volunteer, you assess your need or desire to do the work.” 1:109

“It’s inevitable that while you are organizing you will be asked to compromise . . . . You have the absolute right, as well as the responsibility, to determine whether the compromise you’re being asked to make is sensible, or not. . . . If you are asked to modify your organizing plan, remember to state your response in as compelling and definitive language as possible.” 3:74

“A truth of organizing for social justice is that it’s possible to become self-righteous; to believe that the only truth is your truth is the only truth and, therefore, not respect the existence of your opposition. But that’s not wise. . . .  That’s where ‘respect existence’ comes in. This idea doesn’t mean respecting reprehensible views or hate-filled actions, but it does mean respecting allies who have alternate strategies for achieving common goals.” 3:76

“In your organizing, think about how you can engage as many women as possible in every aspect of the project. . . .  [T]hink about the importance of publicizing your commitment to working with women and increasing their presence in jobs that have previously been predominantly held by men.” 3:82

“Develop personal relationships with as many of the leaders of each constituency as you can. Once you’ve developed those relationships, show up for each of those leaders as often as you can.” 1:25 

“If you aren’t winning on all your issues, frame your progress like a ball player: talk about how you’re succeeding one hit at a time. That’s how you will win the game.”  1:124
An Update on the Pollard Family Article 
Published in January, 2022 Newsletter
WWHP is happy to announce the Pollard Family’s youngest son, ‘Fritz’ Pollard will receive an honor long overdue. An article from February 22, 2022 by the Nadig Newspapers on the Northwest side of Chicago, stated, the “Football field at Lane Tech High School’s Stadium will be named after 1912 Lane graduate ‘Fritz’ Pollard, first-ever African-American to play in Rose Bowl” 

Lane’s Alumni Association, Lane administrators and school system officials have said the renaming ceremony will take place during the football season later this year. Lane Tech High School is located at 2501 W. Addison Street in Chicago. 
Working Women's History Project acknowledges with sorrow the passing of Anna Green, a child care provider, advocate, and activist with  SEIU (Service Employees International Union, Healthcare Indiana Illinois Missouri/Kansas). She will, of course, be missed by her family and friends, and also the children whose lives she touched. See Jackie Kirley's interview with her in our December 2020/January 2021 newsletter:   

Mother Jones May Day Birthday Party will be held on Sun, May 1, 2022 4-6 pm at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, Chicago. It will feature Sara Nelson, Pres, Assoc. of Flight Attendants, CWA, AFL-CIO; Kevin Byrne, Ireland's Consul General to Chicago & Midwest, and others.  The event is free, but RSVP is requested at motherjonesmuseum.org/events  
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Working Women's History Project

Please contact us through Amy Laiken