Updated: Jan 6, 2021
A Woman of Steele, A Woman of Color, A Woman of GOD, and A Woman of Grit! (#Grit)
YOU CAN DO IT, IF YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO IT!
Today, I decide to share segments of empowering personal and professional story of my Mom! It is my hope that it Blesses your life as it has mine.
My Mother, Bobbie L. Steele, a fascinating and courageous Woman of Color (#womenofcolor) who has worked tirelessly to help empower women! Not only is she my #1 role model and inspiration, but she's also a mentor and "Mother" to many other Women of Color. She is an incredible mother (#supermom) to her six biological children and nephew, she and my dad raised as their own. She is affectionately called "Mama Steele" by many, but we, her children, call her "Mom." (#Mother, #Mom, #femalerolemodel)
She is a true WOMAN of STEELE (#womanofsteele) and inspiration to Woman of Color across the globe!!
So, let me tell you why I'm writing about my Mom. Her story is one of grit, determination, resilience, and integrity! Her story demonstrates to us that when life knocks you down, and it will, you get back up and keep inching forward! Her favorite quote is by Jeff Gilman, "Success by an inch is a cinch, it's hard by the yard." These are words we all can live by!
Her story is one of a smart and selfless woman of color who did not allow her circumstances, color, nor others' opinion of her to define how high she could climb. As a trailblazer like many who came before her, she fought for "Women's Right, Human Rights" and People's Rights." You see, as a young girl, working in the cotton fields of Mississippi, her mother instill in her great pride and confidence. Her mother would tell her, "Daughter, be your best self because a broom and a mop won't do; you have greatness within you!" And, my Mom would carry those words with her throughout her life!
She was born in Cleveland, Mississippi, where she lived until she completed high school in 3 years. She later attended Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama, for two years. She moved to Chicago's Westside, intending to finish her education, and she did many years later. Soon after moving to Chicago, she would meet and married my handsome dad, the love of her life, her husband of 52 years. Soon after, they started their family.
So, after many years of determination and commitment, she graduated from Chicago's Teachers College with a degree in Elementary Education. She continues to Roosevelt University, where she earned her master's degree in Supervision and Administration of Education, she did all this with six children! After receiving her BA degree, Mom would work for the Chicago Public Schools for twenty years. (#workingmoms)
Then, in 1986 after urging from Mayor Harold Washington, Steele decided on a career change and ran successfully for the Cook County Board of Commissioners, 2nd District. As a Commissioner on the County Board, she introduced an amendment to Cook County's Purchasing Ordinance, which established a goal of 25% participation for minorities and 10% for women on all county purchases; co-sponsored Cook County's Human Rights and Ethics Ordinances. She and Rev. Jessie Jackson were responsible for renaming the Cook County Hospital after the late Board President John H. Stroger Jr., and she did not stop there. She later had the vision to establish an on-site daycare center for county employees. Today, this daycare center and several others are fully functional and serving families.
Well, she didn't stop there, she went on to introduce the Cook County Re-Entry Employment Project Ordinance. This ordinance seeks to reinforce the evidence that formerly incarcerated individuals can succeed if they are employed. It provides jobs for adults who are first-time non-violent offenders through the Cook County government.
She is the longest-serving African American woman in the history of Cook County. She is the only woman to serve as chairperson of the Finance Committee of the Forest Preserve District of Chicago. She was also the chairperson of the Department of Corrections, Education, Contract Compliance, and Estate and Rules Committees.
After 20 years on the Board and lots of hard work and dedication, she became the 32nd president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on August 1, 2006. She was the first African American woman President of Cook County Board of Commissioners, the second-largest Count in America. What an accomplishment for a Black woman from the cotton fields of Mississippi!
As a proud Woman of Color, she is a member of the National Council of Negro Women, League of Women Voters, Lake Shore Links, Incorporated (Founding Member), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. (#AlphaKappaAlphaSorority), and United Missionary Baptist Church. She was inducted into the Chicago Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.
Today, as the Founder of The Woman of Steele Foundation, she is committed to paying it forward by providing high school seniors with college scholarships.
"Educate a man, and you educate an individual. Educate a woman, and you educate a family."
- A. Cripps -