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2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois House of
3Representatives are saddened to learn of the death of Abena
4Joan Brown of Chicago on July 12, 2015; and
5    WHEREAS, Abena Brown was born on Chicago's South Side, the
6only child of Lueola Reed; she was introduced to the arts at
7the age of 3 when she began studying dance, then recited, sang,
8and testified at church; and
9    WHEREAS, Abena Brown majored in dance at the University of
10Illinois and later at Roosevelt University, where she earned a
11bachelor's degree; she performed at local clubs and Roosevelt
12University's jazz club; she earned a master's degree in
13community organization and management from the University of
14Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, and an
15honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Chicago State
16University; and
17    WHEREAS, During the 1960s, Abena Brown became involved in
18the civil rights movement and was one of the founders of The
19Catalyst, which focused on accountability and led to the
20creation of the National Association of Black Social Workers,
21the Association of Black Psychologists, and other
22organizations; and



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1    WHEREAS, In 1971, Abena Brown co-founded Ebony Talents
2Associates, later to be known as eta Creative Arts Foundation,
3where she served as President and CEO, gaining experience as an
4actress, company manager, stage manager, director, and
5producer; she led the business for 40 years until her
6retirement in 2011, building it into a major presence in black
7theater; and
8    WHEREAS, As head of eta Creative Arts, Abena Brown led the
9purchase and renovation of a 200-seat theater, a gallery space,
10classrooms and a studio, putting up $2,000 of her own money,
11and then led the acquisition of an entire city block from 75th
12to 76th streets along South Chicago Avenue for future
13expansion; and
14    WHEREAS, Abena Brown took generations of aspiring
15playwrights, actors, visual artists, and students under her
16wing, insisting that the work at eta Creative Arts reflect
17Chicago's African-American community in a positive light and
18that neighborhoods were where artists and investments were
19needed most; she took countless students to West Africa to
20expose them to art, music, and dance, an effort known as the
21Africa Express; and
22    WHEREAS, Abena Brown has more than 150 professional theater



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1productions to her credit and received more than 60 prestigious
2honors and awards, including the Award of Merit from the Black
3Theater Alliance, the Paul Robeson Award from the African
4American Arts Alliance, the Governor's Award in the Arts, the
5Muntu Dance Theatre's ALYO Award, and the Lifetime Achievement
6Award from the Chicago Joseph Jefferson Committee; in 2000, she
7was inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame at the Gwendolyn
8Brooks Center at Chicago State University; and
9    WHEREAS, Abena Brown's widespread civic activities
10included working as Director of Program Services at the YWCA of
11Metropolitan Chicago; she served as Chairman of the Advisory
12Board of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, as a
13member of the Woman's Board of the Chicago Urban League and the
14South Shore Chamber of Commerce, and as Vice-Chairman of the
15board of directors for Muntu Dance Theatre; and
16    WHEREAS, Abena Brown was the proud mother of Olorode Joyce
17Brown, Yolanda Cannon, and Margaret "Peggy" Lucas; the
18godmother of Phillip Thomas; the grandmother of Leatha Cannon,
19Doreen Abena Lucas, Kweli and Isoke Brown, LaMarcus Keys,
20Raymond Lucas, and Maurice and Lance Cannon; and the
21grandmother of Urban M. Brown, Jr., who preceded her in death;
22she had 7 great-grandchildren; therefore, be it



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2mourn the passing of Abena Joan Brown and extend our sincere
3condolences to her family, friends, and all who knew and loved
4her; and be it further
5    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
6presented to the family of Abena Brown as an expression of our
7deepest sympathy.