Rev. Willie Taplin Barrow was known as “The Little Warrior.” Rev. Barrow was short in stature but she was a towering force in the civil rights movement. Rev. Willie T. Barrow died March 12 at age 90. Here are some of the statements from officials on her death
President Barack Obama
“Reverend Willie T. Barrow was a Civil Rights icon and a Chicago institution, a ‘Little Warrior’ in pursuit of justice for all God’s children. In 1936, when she was just 12 years old, Reverend Barrow demanded to be let on to her all-white school bus in Texas, and the fight for equality she joined that day would become the cause of her life. She marched with Dr. King on Washington and in Selma. She stood up for labor rights and women’s rights. She made one of the first pieces of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and proudly welcomed LGBT brothers and sisters to the movement she helped lead.
“Nowhere was Reverend Barrow’s impact felt more than in our hometown of Chicago. Through Operation Breadbasket, the Rainbow/PUSH coalition, and her beloved Vernon Park Church, she never stopped doing all she could to make her community a better place. To Michelle and me, she was a constant inspiration, a lifelong mentor, and a very dear friend. I was proud to count myself among the more than 100 men and women she called her ‘Godchildren,’ and worked hard to live up to her example. I still do.
“Michelle and I are deeply saddened by Reverend Barrow’s passing, but we take comfort in the knowledge that our world is a far better place because she was a part of it. Our thoughts and prayers are with Reverend Barrow’s family, and with all those who loved her as we did.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
“Today all Chicagoans mourn the passing of Reverend Willie T. Barrow. From a teenager who demonstrated for equality in the segregated south to a revered Chicago icon who helped to found Operation Breadbasket, Reverend Barrow spent her life on the front lines in the fight for justice. She marched in Selma and played a pivotal role in persuading Dr. King to take his fight for equality to Chicago. Known as ‘The Little Warrior,’ Rev. Barrow was small in frame but her voice was powerful, and contributed immeasurably to the cause of fairness, justice and opportunity in our community and the nation. We mourn her loss but give thanks for the impactful life she lived.”
Chicago Teachers Union
“The city of Chicago has suffered a tremendous loss with this morning’s passing of the Rev. Willie Barrow. Our “Little Warrior” was a one-woman movement for equality, social justice and civil rights, from her work with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to her integral role in the founding of Chicago’s Operation Breadbasket, which later became Rainbow/PUSH. She has inspired generations of activists around the country through more than 70 years of work in the church and the community, with strength and tireless effort unmatched by many. She wielded a world of toughness in her hand—an iron fist wearing a velvet glove—and will be greatly missed by the legions of clergy, activists and social justice pioneers she has influenced.”
Sen. Dick Durbin
“Rev. Willie T. Barrow belongs in the Civil Rights Hall of Fame. From the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to the streets of Chicago, Rev. Barrow fought for justice and stood up to those who would deny equality. Her passion for helping others, her steely determination and her winning smile will be missed, but her spirit will live on in the countless lives touched by her work.”