Vote! For state's groundbreaking top women
Illinois Top 200 bicentennial celebration tries to determine top people, places, and things in state history
By Ted Cox
Who was Illinois’s most groundbreaking woman?
Illinoisans are voting now in the 17th of 20 categories to establish an Illinois Top 200 of people, places, and things for the state’s bicentennial, to be formally celebrated Dec. 3 at the United Center in Chicago.
Nominees for groundbreaking Illinois women include first ladies Mary Todd Lincoln, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, activists “Mother” Jones, Jane Addams, and Lucy Eldine Gonzales Parsons, politicians Jane Byrne and Carol Moseley Braun, writers Ida B. Wells and Betty Friedan, and influential media figures Phyllis Schlafly and Oprah Winfrey, among others.
The campaign has been conducted by the Lincoln Presidential Library, the State Journal-Regster, and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission, but it hasn’t always been promoted that well, resulting in some curious winners, such as REO Speedwagon being named the state’s top musicians over Miles Davis, an Alton native raised in East St. Louis, Chicago native Benny Goodman, and Decatur native Alison Krauss.
Voters online cast ballots for five figures, and the top 10 in each category make up the Illinois Top 200.
Thus far, winners in the first 16 categories have been:
Movie: “The Blues Brothers”
Business: Archer Daniels Midland
Invention: steel plow
Building: Wrigley Field
Historic site: Lincoln’s New Salem
Scenic spot: Elsah
Museum: Lincoln Presidential Museum
Book: “The Wizard of Oz”
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Heartbreaking moment: Lincoln’s assassination
Musicians: you know already and we won’t mention it again
Artist: Frank Lloyd Wright, followed by Lorado Taft and Louis Sullivan
Actor: Dick Van Dyke
Entertainer: Walt Disney, followed by comedians Bob Newhart, Jack Benny, and Richard Pyror
Scientist: Enrico Fermi
Athlete: Michael Jordan, followed by Dick Butkus and Walter Payton
So warm up for the November election by getting out there and voting for the state’s most groundbreaking women, until noon Oct. 12, to be followed by minority trailblazers, leaders, and greatest moments leading up to the bicentennial birthday bash Dec. 3.