Veteran activists Mark S. Allen, Wallace "Gator" Bradley join Congressman Bobby Rush in issuing public statements on the death of the legendary Dr. Margaret Burroughs, founder of the historic DuSable Museum of African American History. Coincidentally, I was on the phone late last night with WVON talk show host Cliff Kelley asking about the health status of Dr. Burroughs and we agreed that we needed to do a wellness check on her, and then this morning to get the statement from Congressman Rush confirming that she had actually died took a deep breath out of us all. I have worked directly with Dr. Burroughs for over 25 years, in fact one of the first teen-aged civic leadership awards was given to me with Dr. Burroughs and a group called Friends Of The Park at The DuSable Museum, and throughout my training in the civil rights movement, there was always Dr. Burroughs who was there providing us with an ongoing challenge to our commitment to social consciousness and grassroots people empowerment, never apologizing for our roots in Black empowerment. And through my years growing up at WVON, The Urban League, and working under elder leaders from Lu Palmer to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr, Dr. Burroughs was there, and of course we would be together year after year with our annual visits at Christmas to Cook County Jail and her year round commitment to maintaining a prison ministry.
Wallace "Gator" Bradley stated that he will always be grateful to Dr. Burroughs for being a mentor to him after he came through his own incarceration as a young gang member, helping him with his own transformation back into society, and helping to provide a sense of hope to others who were behind the walls. "Dr. Burroughs gave a voice to the voiceless from behind the prison Walls, as she provided a vehicle for inmates who learned to express themselves by writing poetry and Dr. Burroughs took their writings and gave them public exposure which those former inmates will forever be grateful to Dr. Burroughs," Bradley said.
While I had the pleasure of working so many years with other ethnic groups across this country when working for Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr and The Rainbow, it was Dr. Burroughs who offered inspiration to me when I decided to refocus my new leadership efforts with a Black foundation first and her saying not to apologize for ones commitment to their Blackness. I have been blessed to have been involved in the civil rights movement ever since my father took me to the old Operation Breadbasket meetings at the old Capital Theater on 79th & Halsted and I joined the youth movement at about 12 or so years old, and now at 48 I have been blessed to have worked directly for almost 40 years with so many of our civil rights icons, including Dr. Burroughs, and committed to sharing my life, leadership and experiences with a new generation as she committed to me and so many other youth in her lifes work. And at 93 years old, I was proud to be standing next to her at a Press Conference with Rev. Jesse Jackson not long ago. Dr. Burroughs was a champion for Black and grassroots empowerment until the end. Those young people she trained will continue her legacy and like Congressman Rush stated, it appears that we are losing many of our ancient landmarks of which I have also worked and I am driven that much more on doing what I need to do as one who carries on that next generation of civil rights leadership. My personal thanks and glad to share these tears of joy for my friend, mentor, and teacher, Dr. Margaret Burroughs. Her life gave life to others.
The pain of her loss, yet has also given me the additional internal power it has given me in reestablishing what Dr. Burroughs desired to see, a full time Black Leadership Development Institute founded and headquartered in Chicago's Bronzeville community as an ongoing vehicle on training generation to generation on the leadership we have taken to empower our people from the true grassroots level. She was famous for asking in a famous poem of hers "What Do I Tell My Children Who Are Black,?" well I can tell them that I and others did indeed reestablish this Black Leadership Development Institute, BLDI and it is founded and headquartered at 449 East 35th Street in Chicago's Bronzeville community and because of the resources of another current icon, developer Elzie Higginbotton, we are able to also continue with the legacy of other ancestors like Lu Palmer, Albertina Walker and others where we are also continuing their legacies well in producing a new generation of Back grassroots news publishing, Black community business development, Gospel Music Heritage Museum organizing etc. I feel their losses and I promise not to let her and others down with my work through others. Just recently, the new Director of The DuSable Museum Dr. Carol Adams brought me and Santita Jackson (daughter of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr) back to a program with Albertina Walker and other elders of on the stories that united the generational leadership of The Civil Rights Movement and what got us through and where we are going, and that will continue through the next generation legacy and new history to record at The DuSable Museum. (Mark S. Allen)
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remembers Dr. Margaret Burroughs as a "keeper of history" and champion for African American people
(D-IL01) reacted with sadness and shock at the news of the death of Dr.
Margaret Burroughs, the founder of the nation's largest
African-American museum, who apparently died this morning at the age of
93. He said the woman who had been a "keeper of history" has joined the
ancestors and she leaves behind a formidable imprint of struggle,
triumph and hope. He will speak about her passing at 1:30 PM today at
Beloved Christian Community Church, 6430 S. Harvard, in the Englewood
express what I feel on the passing of Dr. Margaret Burroughs, the
founder of the Dusable Museum of African-American History,"
said. "She was a keeper of history, a historian for a lost and often
disregarded people, and a champion for those whose voices often go
"Over the years I have
appropriated nearly a million dollars to the DuSable institution because
it is just that important--it is an important landmark in American
history," he continued. "They say that those who cannot remember history
are bound to repeat it. Dr. Burroughs, a long-time public servant,
made sure that so many never made the mistakes of the past. She was a
champion and she leaves a formidable imprint of struggle, triumph and
"I think I'm in shock because it seems we are losing so many of our ancient landmarks,"
Rush said recalling the recent passing of gospel great
and Bishop Arthur M. Brazier. "It has been said that history is the
novel by which the people are the author, and Dr. Burroughs wrote
volumes. She will be sorely missed, but her work lives on."
Rush, who celebrates his 64th birthday on November 23, was available for interviews at 1:30 PM at Beloved Church, where he pastors, at 6430 S. Harvard.