Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Get Well Soon, Karen Lewis

Dear Karen,

My family and I send you our best wishes as you work to get yourself back in good health. I’m confident your hospital room is filled with flowers and Hallmark cards from your many friends across the country. We’re all pulling for you to get well soon.

I decided to go with this online get-well card. It's one that should be right up your alley because it involves Chicago labor history and features a former CPS student.

The student is my oldest daughter, Chelsea. She’s now 22 years old, and she recently started working as a teacher in France.

Back In 2007, when she was a freshman at Lincoln Park High School, Chelsea did a History Fair project about the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937.

While researching the massacre and its aftermath, she learned a lot about labor, power and workers’ rights. She even got to interview Mollie West, one of the people she portrayed in her 10-minute, solo performance.

As far as the History Fair goes, Chelsea’s performance was well-received. She advanced to the national finals and finished in the Top 10 in her category. For my money, however, the most important part of her learning experience that year took place over Memorial Day weekend, just a couple of weeks before she headed to Maryland for the national competition.

Chelsea was invited to perform her piece across the street from the site of the massacre, in a building that is now the headquarters of USWA Local 1033. She stood that Sunday afternoon before a packed house that included sons, daughters and grandchildren of people murdered 70 years earlier.

Chelsea gave it her all. I was there. She was great.

Here is a video of an earlier version of her performance, one filmed in a more antiseptic setting by the Chicago Metro History Education Center and posted on its YouTube channel a couple of years ago.


My family and I hope to see you back on the streets soon, my friend.



1 comment:

Brendan Murphy said...

what a great tribute to an inspirational story of hope courage and survival.