Peoria NOW lost a long-time leader, and many of us a dear friend, when Dolores Klein died early this morning.
Dolores, and usually her husband Ed, took their experience and passion for equality from the Civil Rights movement of the 60's to the Women's movement of the 70's, 80's, 90's and into this century, until they were slowed by health problems in recent years.
Dolores and Ed raised their own children plus a host of foster children, and Dolores liked to describe herself as a Homemaker for Equality during the battle for ERA ratification in Illinois. She mentored many young feminists, wrote wonderful letters to the Editor of the Peoria Journal Star, started and circulated Peoria's Clothesline Project of t-shirts to give sexual assault survivors a way to express their feelings, and maintained more Peoria and Illinois NOW history in her mind than most of us will ever know. Dolores served as Peoria NOW president, newsletter editor, and in other leadership roles. Sometimes she and Ed were co-presidents. Dolores was a recipient of local and state awards for her activism on behalf of equality for women and is listed in the Book of Life and Legacies at the National Women's Hall of Fame.
A Celebration of Dolores' Life is being planned for June 28 at Avanti's on Knoxville. Further details will be described in her obituary. Dolores is survived by Ed, who resides at Courtyard Estates, 117 N Western, Peoria 61604. He would appreciate hearing from friends and admirers.
(for Delores Klein and all who worked for the ERA)
She calls from a rickety card table filled with
Buttons and clothespins, collects contributions for
Homemade brownies and potato salad but
Ample hands and a worn apron can fan into many
A woman’s voice, the beginnings of talk.
Forget supposed safety found behind gates;
Over fences, a load of wet t-shirts can be
Shaken out into light-filled banners, snapped
Sharp against backyards of poverty, abuse,
Despair and in the face of disbelief, bodies
Are able to form a hard line, wrists laced,
Knuckle to bone, can stop traffic, use paper plus
Pencils to create slogans and letters, rewrite
History and pen legislation, brew up strong
Hot coffee to fuel campaigns, conferences,
Take part in debates, and lo and behold,
Elections, convert one-time ballrooms into
Circles of healing where even a wounded
Girl can learn to engage in a war dance,
Please pass the petitions, don shoes for
Marching, time to glory in our colors spread
Across concrete streets, over statehouse lawns,
Past time to demand that any great and would-be
Gods acknowledge all we made-from-scratch
Goddesses as gardens full of hope spring up
Across a mighty nation, invade the almighty
Constitution, shoot tendrils out, watch ideas take
Root around planet earth, she who bids come join us,
We who hold up the whole of bright sky and
Practice chanting, chant we will, we all can and
We will have equal rights one fine day.
by Cinda Thompson, copyright 2003