Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) announced the creation of the Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership at the foundation’s 32nd Annual Luncheon on Oct. 17. The fund will support a series of new initiatives to invest in Black women and girls in the Chicago region. It will include leadership development programming and an award for emerging leaders.
Through the Barrow Fund, CFW will launch Willie’s Warriors, a cohort of Black women from different sectors to examine the particular challenges faced by Black women leaders and strategies for addressing them. The group will build relationships across generations, utilizing tools for healing from the effects from racism, sexism and other oppressions, strengthening and nurturing a broad network of Black women leaders in our region.
“Willie’s Warriors will carry on the spirit of the late Rev. Willie Barrow, a fierce civil rights leader who was known as ‘The Little Warrior’ for her passion for racial justice and social change,” CFW President/CEO K. Sujata said. “We are honored and humbled to carry on the Rev. Barrow’s remarkable legacy.”
The Rev. Willie Barrow Emerging Leaders Award will recognize organizations engaged in innovative work to support and strengthen Black women and girl’s leadership, and provide grant funding to further that work.
The Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership is established with the support of the Willie Taplin Barrow Leadership Institute and Museum in partnership with African American Legacy (AAL) at the Chicago Community Trust.
“AAL is privileged and honored to ensure the passionate and dedicated work of Rev. Willie Barrow is not lost to history but continues to impact African American lives and communities for generations to come,” AAL Board Chair Andreason Brown said. “This initiative will serve as true testament to the life and legacy of a remarkable civic leader.”
The Rev. Willie Barrow, with the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., helped to organize the Chicago chapter of Operation Breadbasket. Rev. Barrow later served as executive director and chair of the board of Rainbow/PUSH. Throughout her life, Barrow was a champion for civil rights, an advocate for racial justice and women’s rights, and became an activist for the LGBTQ community. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was a mentor to President Barack Obama. Barrow died in 2015 at the age of 90.
The Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership at CFW will ensure that generations of new leaders understand and appreciate the legacy and work of Rev. Barrow, and give rise to new models of collaborative work and leadership centered around women of color as we work together to strengthen all of our communities.