Sign the Petition, Name the Street Dr. Margaret Burroughs

Dr. Margaret Burroughs in her youth and later as an elder.
Dr. Margaret Burroughs in her youth and later as an elder.

Sign the Petition, Name the Street Dr. Margaret Burroughs

Streets have been named after people who have done less. So naming a street after Dr. Margaret Burroughs seems fitting for one who has left such a rich legacy.
Legacy is defined as something that is passed on or remains from a previous generation or time. Legacies are passed on from an ancestor or predecessor. Legacy is what our ancestors have left behind for us and it is what we leave behind for our descendants. A legacy is owned by any individual, it is a torch to be passed from generation to generation, each one after the other with the understanding that we are doing one work – to leave the world better than when we found it.
Dr. Burroughs leaves such a legacy behind and is a stellar example of one who both understood and lived this principle. She is a true renaissance woman defined in today’s lingo as an interdisciplinary artist, an educator, a humanitarian and cultural activist. Her contribution in each of these areas has left an impact on the world community of people who are connected by the shared umbilical cord of art, culture, tradition, creative expression and responsibility to younger generations. Passing our traditions and experiences on to the youth is a great responsibility and one of the most important obligations we have as human beings. Holding our ancestors in high esteem that our youth and future generations embrace and continue to enlighten and pass forward our history to help ground them in their own foundation from which they emerge as young people, future men and women who will also go forth in the world contributing and making a difference that will improve the condition of the world.
Dr. Burroughs was a prolific artist of many diverse disciplines, and her very well-known block prints depict positive and thought-provoking images of African and African-American history, culture and tradition. She referred to herself as a “People’s Painter” and her talent was used to educate, move, touch and inspire others.
As an educator, Dr. Burroughs has influenced thousands of young people. She began teaching in the early 1940’s and taught for 20 years in the Chicago public schools and went on to inspire students at a collegiate level as an assistant professor at Chicago Institute of Art, Professor of African American Art and Culture at Elmhurst College, and Professor of Humanities at Kennedy-King Community College. Her success as an educator is demonstrated through the numerous students whom she inspired to become artists, art teachers, art collectors and or otherwise.
Her community and cultural activism is best summarized by her work as founder of the South Side Community Arts Center in 1940 which was home to many of the WPA artists of the day and is still operating today. Her role as co-founder and director of the DuSable Museum of African American History in 1961, the first of only a few institutions of its kind in the U.S., is the model that the other few emulated. Dr. Burroughs believed establishing the DuSable Museum would be her legacy. “Every individual wants to leave a legacy; to be remembered for something positive they have done for the community,” said Burroughs. “Long after I’m dead and gone, the DuSable Museum will still be here. A lot of Black museums have opened up, but we’re the only one that grew out of the indigenous Black community. We weren’t started by anybody downtown. We were started by ordinary folks.”
One of her many goals in establishing the museum was to provide young African Americans the opportunity to see themselves from a Black perspective different from what many have been taught. The collections and exhibitions provide young people with a perspective of themselves and their history, which emphasizes the strong, rich heritage that does not only begin with the slave trade.
Dr. Burroughs worked tirelessly to ensure that the work and experiences of past generations would not only be remembered, but would also be accessible and serve to educate and inspire future generations. In doing so she has now been folded into the strong, powerful legacy of the Ancestral Spirit to which we are dedicated to uplift, honor and one day be a part of as well.
Though she was celebrated in life—honored with respect and appreciation throughout her life it’s important to celebrate her life by naming the 31st Street Harbor Dr. Burroughs Harbor Drive.
“Support the renaming of 31st Street Harbor in Chicago, IL after Dr. Margaret Burroughs. There is no better time than today to honor a woman pioneer whose contributions promoted cultural harmony and artistic opportunity for all. ”
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