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Mother Jones Celebration & Artist Announcement April 28

We had a great time at our Celebration on April 28. We started out with some rousing folk songs from the SAG-AFTRA singers.

Ashley Dearborn, Suzi Petri and John Green of the SAG-AFTRA singers.Credit: Elliott Gorn

Then we were delighted that Brendan McKinney graced the event with a rousing bagpipes rendition of the "The Rights of Man"

We have been at the statue project since 2019. That is not unusual for such an important sculpture. What is unusual is to have such a prominent location, the iconic Water Tower, for a labor figure and a woman who was a magnificent organizer and a flaming agitator. The placement for Mother Jones’ statue was brought about under former Mayor Lightfoot’s tenure in office, and so we wanted to acknowledge her and how much this meant. We had hoped she could make it to our 2023 event, but when she couldn't we decided to wait til this year to give her this token of appreciation. We all remember the trying times with controversies over statues. That was something she had to navigate. During the pandemic, she and her staff made culture and art a priority.

Click to see each photo. Above: Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot received our award and replica of art by Lindsay Hand. She is pictured above with Don Villar, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. The group photo included members of the Bricklayers ADC#1. Photo credits: Elliott Gorn.

Mayor Lightfoot gave some beautiful remarks, which were captured by filmaker Rana Segal below.

We were delighted that an official representative of the Mayor Brandon Johnson Administration came to our event. Deputy Mayor for Immigration and Refugees Beatriz Ponce de Leon pointed to the current Mayor's hearty support for the project, and made personal connections to her own family as immigrants and union steelworkers--tying her experience to Mother Jones' legacy.

Credit: Elliott Gorn

The clip below of Ponce de Leon's remarks is courtesy of Rana Segal.

Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, sent regrets, realizing only at the airport that she was too sick to make it. She wrote that she did not want to expose passengers or our group to "whatever has me feeling so awful. . . It really kills me to miss seeing my favorite people in the movement -- as well as miss the chance to quote my favorite hellraiser and leader of the Working Class. Please give everyone my sincere regrets -- and also my solidarity." Illness also prevented Bryan Weddington from performing.

The big moment for revealing the finalist for the sculpture came. After a process that took over 8 months, the four-person team headed by Kathleen Farrell and Kathleen Scarboro won the contest. Nathan Mason from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events told the audience about the selection process and announced that our event was a feedback opportunity. Kathleen Farrell and her team took the opportunity to showcase their work and plans for the sculpture. Pictured at left is Mason, the Kathleen Farrell, then David Standifer and Dante DiBartolo . Not pictured is the other lead sculptor, Kathleen Scarboro, who is based in Paris, France. Together this team has a lifetime of experience in sculpting figurative art, and are committed to a dynamic presentation of Mother Jones. They will take feedback and complete the design development process. Credit: Elliott Gorn

Image Credits: Elliott Gorn.

Here is background on Farrell and Scarboro, taken from our program book, written by Margaret Fulkerson and Elliott Gorn:

Excerpts from Program book, 2024.

The event included inspiring remarks by SAG-AFTRA representative Eric Chowdrin, and graduate students at Northwestern and University of Chicago, who reported on their recent successful organizing campaigns.

Peter Cummings and Renee Fonesca UE 1122 (Northwestern) Renee Fonesca; Joseph Rathke and Anna Lorimer of UE 1103, University of Chicago

A graduate student from Loyola University, Michael Connolly, won the 50/50 raffle, and amazed and delighted us when he graciously put part of back in the coffers for the statue!

Lynn Adler always does such a great job with the 50-50 raffle. Pictured with Michael Connolly. Credit: Elliott Gorn

And of course, there was cake! Bakers (BCTGM Local 1) supplied this tremendous festive cake.

Credit: Elliott Gorn. Beatriz Ponce de Leon, Brigid Duffy as Mother Jones and Don Villar
Credit: Elliott Gorn Hector Arellano, Mayor Lightfoot, Brigid Duffy as Mother Jones

Solidarity Forever by Kathy Cowan Jim Dewan and the SAG-AFTRA singers
The program book was printed by the team headed by Kathy Thompson and Kenny White. We are so grateful for this beautiful production team.

This amazing portrait of Mother Jones by Kathleen Scarboro of our sculptor team, graced the event booklet.

We thank those who took out ads for the program. If you would like a copy of the program book, send an email to . Click to open each photo.

Thanks to our volunteers and program committee for their work on this event.


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