Lottie ONeillLottie Holman was born in Barry, Illinois in November of 1978. She met and married Joseph O’Neill in Chicago after college, and the couple moved to Downers Grove in 1904. There Lottie launched her political career based on the fundamental principle of democracy that all people should be represented.

She became the state representative for the 41st District in 1923. O’Neill served in the House from 1923-1931 and from 1933-1951. She then served as a state senator from 1951-1964.

She ran for U.S. Senate in 1931 and represented the Illinois GOP at the 1944 Republican National Convention.

O’Neill passed away in her Downers Grove home on February 17, 1967. She is buried at Oak Crest Cemetery in Downers Grove, and a statue commemorating her 38 years in the Illinois General Assembly was erected in the Capitol rotunda in Springfield in 1976.

crawford lgCynthia Crawford was born 50 years ago this month in DeKalb. Growing up, Cindy excelled in school all while hearing her family and friends tell her she had the look to become a successful model.

Cindy graduated high school valedictorian and continued her education at Northwestern University, where she worked towards a degree in chemical engineering. College life was short-lived however, as she left to begin her modeling career. She immediately won the “Look of the Year” contest from an elite modeling agency and within months was featured on the cover of Vogue magazine.

Crawford often spoke about her broken childhood. She did several interviews that really humanized her image to the public by showing her own life struggles. This sparked her career even further, as she went on to host MTV’s House of Style, participate in a fitness video, TV specials, commercial endorsements and film.

Crawford signed a multi-million dollar deal to promote Pepsi and also promoted Revlon. Although she doesn’t model anymore, Cindy Crawford will always be remembered as a woman with poise and a strong professional personality.

Did You Know? Olympic gold medal winner Bonnie Blair has ties to IllinoisTwenty-two years ago today, Bonnie Blair won her fifth Olympic gold medal during the XVII Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Blair started skating at a young age and began competing at the age of seven. After graduating from Centennial High School in Champaign, and with support from the Champaign Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Blair traveled with the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Team.

Blair first participated in the Olympics in the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, setting a new world record and winning her first gold medal in the 500 meter competition. She would go on to participate in the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, winning her second gold medal in the 500 meter and another in the 1,000 meter competition. Blair’s participation in the 1994 Winter Games in Norway led to her fourth and fifth gold medals, again in the 500 and 1,000 meter competitions.

Learn more:
Read more about the life and accomplishments of Bonnie Blair

DYK Wadlow

Robert Pershing Wadlow was born in Alton, Illinois on February 22, 1918. Wadlow would enter the history books as the “Alton Giant” or World’s Tallest Man.

Standing at 8 feet, 11inches, Wadlow is the world’s tallest man confirmed by Guinness World Records. At 13, Wadlow would be one of the tallest boy scouts at the height of 7 foot 4 inches. At 18, he weighed nearly four hundred pounds and was wearing a size 37 shoe that cost one hundred dollars per pair.

The International Shoe Company would provide Wadlow free shoes as long as he and his dad would travel the country as marketers for the company.

The entire town shut down to attend his funeral with nearly 40,000 signatures in the guest book. He earned the nickname “Gentle Giant” for his demeanor with everyone in the town of Alton, Illinois.

 

Learn more about Wadlow:
http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/tallest-man-ever

Lorraine HansberryLorraine Hansberry was a trailblazing playwright, author and activist who used her personal experiences of segregation in Chicago to create the revolutionary play, “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Born in Chicago on May 19, 1930, Hansberry and her family faced pressure from growing racial tensions which triggered the Hansberry v. Lee Supreme Court decision, ruling restrictive covenants illegal.

As a young woman, Hansberry persevered and attended the New School for Social Research in New York, where she studied and worked as an editor of a progressive newspaper, Freedom. Her dedication to providing a voice for the voiceless shined through as she wrote about feminism and homophobia in America.

Hansberry used a line from a Langston Hughes poem and the story of a struggling African-American family to create the groundbreaking play “A Raisin in the Sun.”

The landmark 1959 theatrical production made her the first black woman to see her play performed on Broadway. Hansberry became the youngest American and first African-American playwright to win a New York Critics’ Circle award and a 1961 film adaptation starring Sydney Poitier.  

Off Broadway, Hansberry became active in the civil rights movement alongside her friend, Nina Simone. “A Raisin in the Sun” has been adapted numerous times over the years and remains a landmark of American literature and theatre.

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