Catherine Mardikes, Ida B. Wells Drive Committee Chair
Margaret Herring, Chicago Government Committee Chair
Thank you for your support in the efforts to honor Ida B. Wells. The efforts to rename Balbo Drive to Ida B. Wells Drive have been re-directed to changing the name of Congress Parkway to honor Ms. Wells. Read more about this change in the Sun-Times article on the subject. To understand the background on this issue, please visit the LWV Chicago website page, which details past efforts and current plans.
Ask your alderman to support O2018-4176, which calls for East Balbo Drive to be renamed as "Ida B. Wells Drive." The League of Women Voters of Chicago has been leading efforts to make this change, supported by more than 30 other civic organizations. Learn more about the campaign here.
This bill is currently in the Transportation Committee. We need the support of as many aldermen as possible to ensure it advances out of committee and passes the City Council this month.
Find your alderman and contact info here.
Why should Balbo Drive be renamed?
Ida B. Wells devoted her life to gender and racial equality. Born a slave in 1862, she went on to lead a campaign against lynching throughout the South. She lived and worked in Chicago from 1893 until her death in 1931, during which time she registered hundreds of women to vote for the first time, defeated efforts to segregate public schools, established organizations to provide early childhood education, and fought for women's rights nationally alongside leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, among other distinguished achievements.
By contrast, Italo Balbo was a leader of Benito Mussolini's fascist government in the 1920s and '30s who organized the paramilitary “Black Shirts” gang. His connection with Chicago history was brief and tenuous, spending only five days in the city after leading a transatlantic flight here in conjunction with the 1933 World’s Fair. There are no monuments to Balbo in Rome.