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Chicago Metro History Education Center Fundraiser Nets $16,000

More than 130 people braved the terrible weather sideways rain to join the Chicago Metro History Education Center (C.M.H.E.C.) at Howells & Hood on Thursday, February 20, 2014 for Happy Hour for History. In the process, they helped the C.M.H.E.C. raise more than $16,000 to support History Fair. Comedienne and W.G.N. radio personality Patti Vasquez entertained the crowd.

Frank Valadez, C.M.H.E.C. Executive Director said, "It was great fun to have Patti involved. She's a riot, and I can't thank her enough for making the time to join us." He also offered thanks "to the event sponsors and the wonderful event committee that put so much time and effort into collecting silent auction and raffle items and selling tickets. Everything went extraordinarily well! I can't wait to do it again next year."

Top-level sponsors of Happy Hour for History included: HBK Engineering and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Other sponsors included: Quantum Crossings, Cole Taylor Bank, Tim Gilfoyle and Mary Rose Alexander, Maureen McCormick, and Debra and Mark Trembacki.

The Happy Hour for History Event Committee, led by Erin Perone, included: Kim Ball, Maral Eidell, Shawn Healy, Natale Fuller, Eileen Gallagher, Allison Garza, Jennifer Johnson, Dave Lawson, Erin McGovern, Tiffany Middleton, Eleanore Neumann, Abby Rocap, Jackie Seitz, and Bethany Suwinski. According to the C.H.M.E.C., "They did a wonderful job selling tickets, attracting donations, and organizing the event activities!"

Jakobi Williams, Professor of History at Indiana University and author of From Ballots to Bullets: Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party, was scheduled to speak in Chicago on Valentine's Day, and Lisa Oppenheim, Director of History Fair, had arranged for a group of students from Bronzeville Scholastic Institute (B.S.I.) to go hear the talk and possibly meet the author, but the event was cancelled.

"When we couldn't go see him," said Ms. Oppenheim, "we thought, let's contact him to see if he would visit BSI for a class period to meet with students who were working on History Fair projects related to the Black Panthers."

Not only did Williams, who grew up in Chicago, stay for one period but, as BSI librarian Sara Sayigh said, "He came around 10 and stayed well past the end of the school day. He spent every minute speaking with students and teachers."

Some students at the school have been developing History Fair projects on topics related to the Black Panthers, which dovetails with this year's National History Day theme, Rights and Responsibilities. "The students who had Panthers related projects," said Ms. Sayigh, "all had a chance to have an individual conference with him and he spoke to five African-American studies and history classes."

According to the C.H.M.E.C. "The students had a great experience meeting a professional historians and discussing their History Fair projects with him. Thanks to Professor Williams for making a wonderful investment of time with History Fair students!"

The C.M.H.E.C. is supported by its sponsoring institutions - The Newberry Library, the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago History Museum, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Illinois Humanities Council - as well as many local foundations and corporations. C.M.H.E.C. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. It is housed in The Newberry Library.

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