Rev. Willie Barrow has a life lesson for King breakfast audience

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 01/17/2014, 01:50pm

After 89 years on earth and decades in the trenches of the civil rights movement, the Rev. Willie Barrow has all kinds of life lessons to teach.

On Friday, the feisty Barrow schooled her audience at the interfaith breakfast celebrating the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King about what it takes to stay married for 57 years.

“I told him, `You can look around all you want. But, you’re not gonna find another Willie B,’ “ the irrepressible Barrow said, as a hotel ballroom filled with politicians and community leaders dissolved into laughter and applause.

“She can’t cook like me. She can’t talk like me. She can’t walk like me. She can’t even put up with you like me. There’s no need to be looking around. You got what you deserve. Don’t try to find nobody else.”

During Friday’s breakfast, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave Barrow the city’s Champion of Freedom Award.

She’s a former field organizer and confidante to Dr. King who went on to found Operation Breadbasket, which later became Operation PUSH. Barrow served as the organization’s national executive director and retired as its president in 1989.

“We are working the work that I’ve done my entire life—work that Dr. King and I started over 40 years ago,” said Barrow, who got her start during the 1940’s as a student leading demonstrations against segregated schools.

“Mr. Mayor, I want to thank you. I appreciate you. And I am grateful that you chose me for this award. At the age of 89 years, I’m still working. The good Lord is not through with me yet.”