Jane Byrne

Photo: Alan Light

For 21 years, from the mid-1950s to the mid ’70s, mayor Richard j. Daly ran the city of Chicago. And I mean he ran the city.

One member of Daley’s cabinet was a woman named Jane Byrne, who was Chicago’s Commissioner of Consumer Sales.

Not long after Mayor Daley’s death in 1976 Byrne left her city job, and ran for mayor herself in 1979. And against the odds, Byrne won. She became not only Chicago’s first female mayor, but the first woman to be elected mayor of any major U.S. city.

But 4 years later, when she ran for reelection, the tide that had swept her into office swept her back out again.

In 1992, Jane Byrne wrote a political memoir, and that’s when I have the chance to meet her.

So here now, from 1992, Jane Byrne.

Jane Byrne died in 2014. She was 81.

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Marva Collins

Photo: Eric Watkins

America’s schools are in crisis right now.

After COVID took its toll, and forced remote learning on millions of kids, school boards all over the country are now dealing with loud, sometimes ferocious, debates over everything from mask mandates to gender pronouns to critical race theory.

But debate over education is nothing new.

A generation ago, a Chicago educator with unusual methods was both widely praised and roundly criticized.

Yet it was hard to argue with the success that Marva Collins had with the students who attended her private inner city elementary school.

I met her some 31 years ago as we have a conversation about the state of education, and her unusual methods.

So here now, from 1990, Marva Collins.

Marva Collins died in 2015. She was 78.