Hundreds of friends and family turned out for a memorial for Chicago lesbian activist and youth advocate Renae Ogletree. The event, held at the Chicago History Museum May 1, featured music, dance, and emotional comments from those who knew Ogletree best, as well as people touched by her work and life. The day was filled with both humor and tears.
Mary Morten and Paul Fairchild welcomed the audience. Morten read condolences from Barack and Michelle Obama, who knew Ogletree, and also a letter read into the Congressional Record by Rep. Mike Quigley.
Ron Huberman, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, said Ogletree's worked inspired him, and allowed for him to be an openly gay leader of the nation's third largest school district. William Greaves sent greetings from the mayor's office.
Longtime Ogletree friend Vernita Gray gave a powerful eulogy. Vanessa Davis and June Gearon each sang a musical number, and youth Shantell Steve read a poem. Anshae Lorenzen from the Youth Pride Dance Artistry Dept., danced a beautiful tribute number.
Other speakers included Marta Collaza, Sue Connolly, C.C. Carter, Michael Harrington, Lori Cooper and Oscar Ogletree, Jr., Renae's brother. Most of her family came in from New Jersey for the tribute.
For details on Ogletree's contributions to the LGBT movement, see the April 28 Windy City Times, and an interview with Ogletree on www.ChicagoGayHistory.org .