Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08



The Reverend Doctor Willie T. Barrow: 'The Little Warrior' Soldiers On
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 4759 times since Sat Jan 1, 2005
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

One only needs to speak to the Rev. Dr. Willie Taplin Barrow for a couple of moments to figure out why she's called 'The Little Warrior.' Her eight-decade life has been marked by campaigning during a succession of movements representing almost every demographic—and, still, she continues to fight.

According to a biographical sketch, Barrow grew up in Texas where, as a student in the 1940s, she began her long career as an activist by leading a demonstration of African-American schoolchildren against a segregated school system. Being involved in that campaign—and ultimately emerging victorious—taught Barrow that faith and determination could help change things. She attended Warner-Pacific Theological Seminary in Portland, Ore.; after graduating, Barrow was ordained as a minister.

One of Barrow's most critical roles came when she became a field organizer for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the civil-rights demonstrations and marches of the 1950s and 1960s. Barrow was responsible for the organization of transportation, shelter, meetings, and rallies. She served as organizer from 1953 through the historical 1965 march on Selma, Ala., where she trained new recruits, put boycotts together, and participated in voter registration drives. During the 1960s, Barrow was among the founders of Operation Breadbasket, a program that provided spiritual guidance to those in need. In 1968, she led a three-person delegation to North Vietnam and took part in the negotiation of the Vietnam Peace Treaty.

Throughout the 1970s to the present, Barrow—who has been honored with a doctor of divinity degree from Liberia and a leadership certificate from Harvard University—participated and continues to take part in a variety of movements, including those representing women; children; and the gay and lesbian community.

Windy City Times and Identity recently spent a few moments with Barrow and discovered that, despite all of her fighting, she still has plenty of energy, passion, and love. The minister discussed everything from her women's leadership institute to her son Keith, who passed away in 1983 of AIDS.

Windy City Times: You once said that you were called into the ministry at age 16. Why do you feel that you were called at such a young age?

Rev. Willie T. Barrow: As a young preacher's kid, I was exposed to a lot: people, drama, and other things. I then discovered that I liked people and I felt called as a leader. I believe that even very young people can sense that they are leaders.

That is why I'm setting up a women's leadership institute. It's for women from 13 to 35 who can lead and who have a desire to do so.

WCT: A lot of people know that you participated in the civil-rights movement, starting in the 1940s and continuing through today. What I want to know is: What was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., like?

WTB: Oh, he was super-smart. However, that wasn't the thing that attracted me to him. The things that I found fascinating were his humility and vision. He wasn't afraid to share the things that he saw and what he felt. He tried to bring together as many people as possible. That ties in with my theme for the 21st century: 'We are not so much divided as we are disconnected.' What struck me most was how he could connect with people—and how important that was.

Personally, I've gone through about several movements. Growing up, my dad was Baptist, my mother was Methodist, and my daddy's baby brother ( who lived with us ) was a Jevohah's Witness. [ Chuckles. ] That was the first movement for me; I called it the reformation movement because it involved reforming different denominations. The second one was the student movement; I was discriminated against at an early age so I got started in that. Then, there was the women's movement with the Equal Rights Amendment. After that, I was involved in the labor movement; it was then that I learned how to organize. Then the labor movement took me to the civil-rights movement. After my son [ came out to me ] , I then became a part of the gay-rights movement. So, I've been through a lot.

WCT: And you're still fighting.

WTB: And I'm still fighting.

WCT: Talk to me about your son.

WTB: I was married for 10 years and the doctor told me that I couldn't bear children. That's when I adopted one child and my son actually came 10 years later. I went on a fast because I was going to Hawaii for an evangelistic meeting; after I came out of this fast, I got pregnant with Keith. He had music in his bones and in his soul; he started writing music when he was eight.

He eventually went into the entertainment business. One night, in 1979, he called me from Paris and said 'Momma, I don't think I'll be able to go on stage tonight. I really feel sick.' I said, 'Oh, you'll be alright.' I prayed for him and then he called again a couple of hours later and he said: 'Momma, I can't perform. I have to go; they have to take me to the hospital.' That's when he found out that he had [ what was later determined to be ] HIV.

WCT: Is it true that you have 127 godchildren?

WTB: Well, now I have 130! One of them ( the child I adopted before the one I had ) is the dean of students at New York University and she's been married for 38 years.

WCT: Why are you so committed to young people?

WTB: I think I'm just committed to people, period. It's so strange; all of these people say that they want to be my godchildren. They're of all races and creeds; they're Jews, Arabs, Asians, Mexicans, and Blacks. It's like a rainbow.

WCT: It really is. You have your own Rainbow Coalition!

WTB: [ Laughs. ] Absolutely! I breathe it and I eat it; it's my life. So many of our young people can't talk to their parents. When my son went to school, he ran into so many people who said that they couldn't talk to their parents; he would tell them to come home and talk to me because he knew that they could talk to me about anything.

When Keith got AIDS, he said, 'Momma, don't hide it! I have to live with it and you have to live with it.'

I was one of the first leaders in Chicago who really talked about [ the disease ] . I called 17 pastors together and that's when I announced [ that Keith had AIDS ] . I even made one of the first AIDS quilts.

WCT: What's in your future?

WTB: Training other women; when you think about [ women like ] Willie Barrow and Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs [ who co-founded the DuSable Museum with her late husband, Charles ] , we have to keep that legacy going. We're setting up what will be called The Barrow Institute. They've got to remember me! [ Laughs. ]

WCT: There's no way anyone's going to forget you. You're truly unforgettable.

WTB: Well, thank you!

Many thanks to Delores MeBain of the MeBain Media Group for arranging the interview.

I'm at .

This article shared 4759 times since Sat Jan 1, 2005
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

'The Black Church and the LGBTQ+ Community' panel on July 7 2022-07-03
- The Pride in the Pews event "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': The Black Church and the LGBTQ+ Community" will take place Thursday, July 7, 5:30-7 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church of Chicago, 6400 S. Kimbark Ave. The ...

Gay News

Controversial pastor Rev. James Meeks announces retirement 2022-06-20
- Salem Baptist Church Senior Pastor Rev. James Meeks announced he is retiring next January. The church has more than 9,000 members, according to its website. The vision statement is that Salem is "a multi-generational church focused ...

Gay News

Pride Flag arsons raise alarm, church leaders say 2022-06-19
-- From a Metropolitan Community Church press release - The intentional burning of two LGBT Pride flags in Baltimore earlier this week resulted in three people being seriously injured and significant damage to multiple homes, and leaders of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) are expressing ...

Gay News

Catholic publisher cancels Chicago theologian's 'Queer God de Amor' book 2022-06-13
- On June 9, New Ways Ministry received the following statement by Miguel Diaz, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and the John Courtney Murray, S.J., University Chair in Public Service at Loyola University Chicago. ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT: LETTERS Pride: Remembering who we are 2022-05-30
- The LGBTQAI community echoes the mantra of secular society: Happiness comes from sex, money and power. Life is too busy with work and leisure to have time for religion and/or values. During this period of Pride ...

Gay News

Church of Scotland votes to allow same-sex marriages 2022-05-28
- The Church of Scotland has voted to allow same-sex marriages after recent warnings that its historical opposition had increased the church's decline toward irrelevance, The Guardian reported. The church's general assembly voted 274-136 to allow it ...

Gay News

VIEWS Another 'Handmaid's Tale,' or sex and the supreme Catholics 2022-05-24
- Amy Vivian Coney Barrett was confirmed as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by the U.S. Senate on Oct. 26, 2020. Barrett is only the fifth woman ever to serve on the Court. She is also the sixth Catholic ...

Gay News

Report: Southern Baptist Convention leaders mishandled allegations of sexual abuse 2022-05-23
- A bombshell report stated that leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) mishandled allegations of sexual abuse, intimidated victims and their advocates, and resisted attempts at reform over the course ...

Gay News

NATIONAL New York synod, Danica Roem, legal action, Pride news, PFLAG 2022-05-15
- The Metropolitan New York Synod (MNYS), the regional body of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, announced Christopher Vergara as its newly elected vice president, according to a press release. Vergara is the first openly gay ...

Gay News

LGBTQ Religious Archives Network holds 'AIDS, Activism and American Christianity' webinar 2022-05-12
- LGBTQ Religious Archives Network (LGBTQ-RAN) held an "AIDS, Activism and American Christianity: A Conversation" virtual webinar on May 5. The event focused on Christian activism during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ...

Gay News

VIEWS Dignity/Chicago celebrates 50 years of ministry 2022-05-06
- It was 1972 and it was dangerous to be gay or lesbian. One could be arrested, publicly humiliated or fired from one's job. Even finding safety in the emerging bar scene was hazardous. Added to that ...

Gay News

LGBTQ Catholic resource Outreach launches 2022-05-02
- Outreach—a new website designed to help LGBTQ Catholics, their families and friends, and those who minister to them in the church—has launched. Outreach will publish news stories and essays from around the world; offer a resource ...

Gay News

United Methodist Church splitting over LGBTQ acceptance 2022-05-02
- Theologically conservative Methodists have broken away from the United Methodist Church (UMC) over LGBTQ acceptance. According to a item, the breakaway denomination, called the Global Methodist Church, formed because ...

Gay News

Chicago Archdiocese settles with sex-abuse accusers 2022-04-27
- A settlement has been reached between the Archdiocese of Chicago and five people who accused five separate priests of sexual abuse—including a high-profile priest who passed away in 2019, ABC ...

Gay News

WORLD Conference canceled, Catholic event, India bills, Gertrude Stein 2022-04-10
- The United Kingdom canceled its first-ever international LGBTQ+ conference after a boycott by more than 100 organizations, the BBC reported. "Safe To Be Me" was scheduled to take place in London in June to promote LGBTQ+ ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.