CHICAGO – Civil Rights leader Reverend Willie Barrow will be laid to rest Saturday.
Hundreds of people gathered inside the Vernon Park Church of God Friday to celebrate her life, including Reverend Jesse Jackson, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and mayoral candidate Jesus Chuy Garcia.
Reverend Willie Borrow was known as ‘the little warrior’ – despite her small stature, she fought fearlessly for equality. She was a fierce advocate for women’s rights, labor rights and later in life, fought for the gay community.
At just 12 years of age, she organized a demonstration with her African-American classmates to protest the fact that white children were riding the school bus while black children had to walk miles to their schools.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, Barrow worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Jesse Jackson Senior as a field organizer for the Southern Christian leadership conference.
“We worked with Dr. King in 1965 in Selma we never stopped working fulfilling his dream,” said Jackson. “We’re grateful to have had her as a friend and sister across these years.”
Barrow campaigned for Harold Washington, who became the first black mayor of Chicago in the early 80’s.
She was also executive director for Operation Push, and was a mentor and godmother to President Barack Obama. While the president could not attend the service, he wrote a letter commending Barrow’s life of public service.
She will be buried in Oak Woods Cemetery Saturday morning.