We All Benefit

October 26, 2016
6:30pm to 9:00pm

Unitarian Church of Evanston
1330 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL 60201

Join us in honoring the 2016 Justice Awards recipients who have demonstrated their commitment to social justice.

We All Benefit when local residents step forward to create just and inclusive communities.

$75 tickets

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Rayna and Marvin Miller Justice Award

Justice Day Volunteers

Twenty-three volunteers worked tirelessly to organize Justice Day from June 2014 to July 2015. Nearly one thousand people gathered on the Winnetka Village Green to renew their commitment to social justice that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of in his historic address fifty years prior at the same location.

In planning this event, the volunteers also established the framework of Principles of a Welcoming Community, a tool that municipalities can use to evaluate themselves in order to become more accessible, safe and engaged; and by which residents can hold their elected and appointed officials accountable. The members continue to work in their communities to promote justice through social change.

Their work exemplifies that of Rayna and Marvin Miller, dedicated civil rights advocates on the North Shore and among the founders of Open Communities, for whom this award is named.

Andy Amend
Kristin Berg
David Borris
Catherine Buntin
Marilee Cole
Beverly Copeland
Betty Ester
Helen Gagel
Nancy Goodman
Bennett Johnson
Sherry Medwin
Carol Michelini
Kathy Miller
Jennifer O’Neil
Nan Parson
Nancy Pred
Nina Raskin
Frances Roehm
Sharon Sanders
Rev. Jan Smith
Denyse Stoneback
Patti Vile
Elliot Zashin

Jean R. Cleland Social Action Award

Susan Trieschmann

Susan founded Curt’s Café in Evanston; and, in her capacity as Executive Director, grew the organization into a successful restaurant and catering employment training ground for at-risk youth. She has been instrumental in coalescing support among Evanstonians of all backgrounds for this cause. Her work includes partnering with local congregations and other groups, serving as an “ambassador of conscience”, mobilizing neighbors to contribute financially, as well as offering their time and talents to support the program.

Curt’s Café positively impacts one individual at a time, strengthening our community. The work is emblematic of Jean R. Cleland, a life-long leader against racial discrimination and among the founders of Open Communities for whom this award is named.

Spirit of Open Communities Award

Lesley Williams

Lesley Williams’ commitment to a more equitable Evanston is evident in her tireless work to show that xenophobia and racism are not acceptable. She has been a strong local leader in raising awareness against Islamaphobia and in the Black Lives Matter movement. In light of tragic events across our nation regarding race and rhetoric that has caused a divisive atmosphere, the Spirit of Open Communities Award has been designated this year to honor an individual who exemplifies and works towards the ideal of just and inclusive communities. We can think of no greater recipient than Evanston’s Lesley Williams, who received multiple nominations from the community.

As a librarian for the Evanston Public Library, Lesley continues to lobby for equity in resources for all communities in Evanston in order to widen the net of service.

Because of these and many other activities, Lesley Williams truly embodies the Spirit of Open Communities.

$75 tickets

Rayna & Marvin Miller Community Justice Award

Through the Rayna & Marvin Miller Community Justice Award, Open Communities recognizes the commitment and outstanding achievement of an individual or group in promoting the mission of just, diverse and open communities over the past year, in Chicago’s northern suburbs.

Rayna and Marvin Miller, long dedicated to civil rights and open housing in Wilmette and surrounding North Shore communities, were founders in 1972 of what is now Open Communities. Rayna Miller was Open Communities’ first dedicated Executive Director from 1975 until her retirement in 1986.

Rayna and Marvin, along with Jean Cleland, were also part of the North Shore Summer Project, a grassroots campaign founded in 1961 which coalesced local north suburban residents, religious leaders, and students to open housing markets to “Negroes, Jews, and Orientals.” Their high point was a 1965 rally featuring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. attracting more than 10,000 supporters on the Winnetka Village Green.

Their work over the decades ranged from picketing real estate offices, to finding homes for African Americans in virtually all-white suburban neighborhoods and ensuring an atmosphere of welcome, to passionately testifying for fair housing rights and affordable housing developments.

The Millers’ credo can be summed up in Rayna’s words:
“If you have the spirit to struggle, you will have the power to prevail.”

Previous Winners:

2008: Betsy Lassar
2010: Lee and Nancy Goodman
2012: Ann Airey, Jen McQuet, Nancy Pred, Katie Seigenthaler & Surrosh Shakir
2013: Gail Schechter
2014: Father Bob Oldershaw
2016: Justice Day Volunteers