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University Press to Publish "Chicago Lives" Series

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March 15, 2005 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- With a $165,000 grant from The Chicago Community Trust, Northwestern University Press is set to publish the first three books in its new “Chicago Lives” series. The series begins with the spring publication of a memoir by long-time liberal Chicago Alderman Leon M. Despres. Despres crusaded for decades to ban discrimination, preserve landmark buildings and gain equality for African Americans.

Despres, now 97, will be honored May 5 at the Chicago Historical Society with an event marking the launch of the new book series. The event will feature a discussion on social activism, ethics and justice with Abner Mikva, former federal judge and U.S. congressman. Open to the public, the 7 p.m. event is free for historical society members, $10 for others. Call (312) 642-4600 or visit www.chicagohs.org for information. The celebration will continue with a reading and reception May 19 at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Call (847) 491-5315 for details.

The other “Chicago Lives” books supported by The Chicago Community Trust grant and set for publication are a memoir of Truman K. Gibson Jr., the last surviving member of President Harry Truman’s “Black Cabinet,” and a biography of Earl B. Dickerson, the late civil rights activist and attorney known as the “Dean of Chicago’s Black Lawyers.”

“These books honor inspiring Chicago role models that everyone should know about,” said Northwestern University Press editor-in-chief Susan Betz. They are:

• “Challenging the Daley Machine: A Chicago Alderman’s Memoir” by Leon M. Despres and written with former Chicago Tribune reporter Kenan Heise and with a foreword by Mike Royko

• “Knocking Down Barriers: My Fight for Black America,” by Truman K. Gibson Jr. and written with Chicago Sun-Times journalist Steve Huntley, which will be published this summer

• “Earl B. Dickerson: A Voice for Freedom and Equality,” by Robert J. Blakely with Marcus Shepard, to be published in late 2005.

Future books in the series will feature Chicagoans who have had an impact on the city, nation and world and also non-Chicagoans who have left their mark on the city.

Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, The Chicago Community Trust provides more than $62 million annually in grants to not-for-profit organizations. Northwestern University Press has produced important scholarly works in a wide variety of disciplines and quality regional and Chicago books, fiction, poetry, literature in translation, literary criticism and books on drama and the performing arts. For a complete list of titles, visit www.nupress.northwestern.edu.

Topics: University