On March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day - a day of observance for working women and their rights. While countries and cities across the globe celebrate this day in different ways, we would like to highlight some recent women from Illinois you might know - as well as some places near to them or their pasts that can represent their endeavors as working women.
From Dolton, Jane Lynch is a local Illinoisian who took her funny to the world stage. As an Emmy Award-winning actress in Glee, Best in Show, and Wreck-It Ralph, Lynch has shown that the homegrown comedy of the cold Midwest can warm everyone’s hearts.
In honor of her, we recommend catching a show at one of her old stomping grounds when it reopens: the Annoyance Theater. While not as big as the more well known Second City, the Annoyance Theater is home to some of the sharpest and edgiest comedy in the city today, which makes it little wonder why Lynch found a home there. Make sure to get there early before a show in order to enjoy a drink in their bar overlooking Belmont Ave.
While Stephanie Izard grew up in Connecticut, she was born in Chicago and returned to Chicago to pursue her culinary career. And we’re glad she did, because the restaurants she has opened in Chicago are nothing short of astounding.
Her restaurants all utilize a Goat in their branding, adding a distinct Izard signature to every place you visit. From the upscale dining of the Girl and the Goat, to the phenomenal diner-style fare of the Little Goat Diner, to the twist on Chinese delicacies found at Duck Duck Goat, Izard has transformed the West Loop of Chicago into her own corner of the foodie universe.
We recommend trying Little Goat Diner to get a taste of what she has to offer, and working your way through her other restaurants from there.
Although she was born in Topeka, Kansas, Gwendolyn Brooks was raised in Chicago. Her prolific writing covered over twenty books of poetry, a novel, and various other works. Illinois named her the state’s poet laureate in 1968, and less than twenty years later the United States recognized her with the same honor for the Library of Congress - the first African-American woman to be appointed the post.
She has been featured many times at the American Writers Museum in Chicago, which has an archive of her works, and we recommend exploring the Museum virtually today to see the world that she inspired through her work.
One of the vocal members of the women’s suffrage movement and the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Jane Addams was born in Cedarville and made her home in Chicago. As well as living in Chicago, she built Hull House there, which is one of the most prominent settlement houses for the poor in American history. She is often regarded as the founder of the social work profession and is the co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU.
The Hull mansion is currently listed as a landmark by both the city of Chicago and the United States, and you can even visit it today (virtually, for now) - where it functions as a museum.
This Olympian, before ascending to the world stage, was born in East St. Louis. After honing her craft in the fields of East St. Louis Lincoln Senior High School, Jackie Joyner-Kersee would go on to become a multiple gold medal winning heptathalon and track and field star. By the end of her career, she racked up three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals and has often been regarded as the greatest female athlete of all time.
We would be remiss to talk about influential Illinois women and not talk about Michelle Obama. Famously from the South Side of Chicago, Obama has built a career that places her status as the first lady of the United States as just one point of many. As an activist, she has worked to end poverty, improve education, and promote healthy living among our youth of today. She is a best-selling author, a university administrator, and a well-regarded lawyer as well.
Her home with Barack Obama in Hyde Park is a notable destination for many visitors, and we recommend stopping by - but then you should enjoy nearby Burnham Park, afterwards, a destination often frequented by the Obama family.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lastly, Hillary Rodham Clinton, like Michelle Obama, is a former first lady who also was from Illinois. The prolific former senator and secretary of state is from Park Ridge, where you can visit her childhood home that can be found on Wisner Street, or even the Pickwick Theater she frequented as a child.