Museum News

Barbara Stuart -- 2021 History Maker Honoree

April 15th, 2021

Barbara served for several years as president of the Normal Public Library Board and became the first president of the Friends of the Normal Public Library. She founded seven activist organizations: Young Adult Problems Study Group, The Minority Advocacy Council, the Minority Complaints about Police committee, The Peaceful Schools Committee, The Rebound Committee, The Alternatives to Jail Committee, and the McLean County Community COMPACT. She also served on the McLean County Board for 17 years as chair of the Rules Committee and was Steering Committee Chair for the National Association of Counties. She has a firm belief in fairness, as she urged the adoption of Drug Court, electronic monitoring, Mental Health Court, and Victim/ Offender Reconciliation programs. Barbara was the driving force of the McLean County People to People Festival, bringing 3,000 students and teachers for a conflict resolution conference in 1999.

When hearing loss made it difficult for Barbara to be a part of committee meetings and other events, she began to write poetry while continuing to write opinion pieces for The Pantagraph and The Normalite newspapers. She is currently active with the Peaceful Schools Initiative, which has established violence prevention skill training in most local school districts.

Her talents and tenacity earned her two awards in 1997, the YWCA Woman of Distinction’s Harriett F. Rust Community Service Award and Normal’s Martin Luther King Human Relations Award. Additionally, she received the first Grabill-Homan Community Peace Prize awarded in 2011. However, the recognition has not changed Barbara’s humble nature. Barbara said, “I have always admired the teachings of Jesus. The compassion…the feeling that every person has value and that we are connected to each other and to God… I just hate to see people treated cruelly and unfairly and I always think something should be done about it.”

(updated 2023)



Norris Porter

Director of Development

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