Daring to Struggle, Daring to Win tells the fascinating true story of an individual radical organizer turned independent Chicago city council member, and her forty year struggle for justice in Chicago.
Helen Shiller went from radical anti-war activist in Wisconsin, to a member of a collective of white allies of the Black Panther Party in Chicago, to an elected city council person who helped break the back of the racialized opposition to Harold Washington, Chicago's first Black mayor.
Shiller participated, when few others did, in the historic fight against the gentrification of a unique economically and racially mixed Chicago community on the Northside. With insight into historic community organizing and political battles in Chicago from the 1970s through 2010, this book details numerous policy fights and conflicts in Chicago during this time, illuminating recurrent political themes and battles that remain relevant to this day.
Daring to Struggle, Daring to Win is a compelling, insightful, must-read for all those struggling for a better world today.
"Helen Shiller's work inside and out of the Chicago City Council is a model for all those seeking to make real change in the world. From her tireless work challenging gentrification, police abuse, and homophobia, Shiller never lost sight of her roots, and always put the struggles of poor and working class people first. No matter where you live and organize there is much to be learned from Helen's inspiring and courageous life story. Read this book!" --Rossana Rodríguez Sánchez, Alderwoman Chicago's 33rd Ward
"I salute my good friend and comrade Helen Shiller for the broad vivid picture of her extraordinary life's journey, filled with personal challenges, and her decades of exceptional social justice work with and for the poor and oppressed communities. Helen worked tireleslly with the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and its Intercommunal Survival Committee for racial and social justice during the 1970's. She is as a true servant of the people. --Emory Douglas, Revolutionary Artist/Minister of Culture, The Black Panther Party 1967/1980
"As a journalist who has covered Helen Shiller, off and on, throughout her half-century of community activism, I have long wondered how she would tell her own epic story. Daring to Struggle, Daring to Win answers that question poignantly and powerfully. Her epic journey takes us from the era of SDS, Black Panthers and school desegregation, through both Mayors Daley to the rise of Mayor Harold Washington, President Barack Obama and finally her own election to Chicago City Council--for 24 years. From outside agitator to insider alderperson, Shiller earned respect even from her political rivals for her savvy and resilience. For those who wonder whether they can "buy in" to the system without selling out, this story is a great place to start." --Clarence Page, Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist and editorial board member at the Chicago Tribune
"This book is a must read for today's organizers working to connect their neighborhoods to a vision of transformative, anti-racist politics. Daring to Struggle expands our knowledge of New Left organizers who rarely grabbed headlines, yet set a high standard for radical street-level and electoral activism." --Amy Sonnie and James Tracy, co-authors Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Interracial Solidarity in 1960s-70s New Left Organizing
"For more than a half century, Helen Shiller has been the radical's radical. She has led countless progressive causes, from the battle against police brutality; to bureaucracy busting; to fighting against poverty; to fighting for racial equity. Her story is a go-to-battle blueprint for the fights of today, and for those to come. It is a dare well worth taking." --Laura S. Washington, Political Analyst, ABC 7-Chicago
"Helen Shiller has led no ordinary life: A witness to history, a crusader for justice, and deeply loyal to the women and men whose lives and predicaments cry for fairness, she has dedicated herself to righteous warfare, whether in the streets or in the hallowed halls of government. Her story is profoundly human and profoundly personal, but also a clarion call to the rest of us to join her." --Achy Obejas, author of Boomerang/Bumerán
"Helen Shiller carefully weaves together her personal life story with the events that show her unflagging support and advocacy for grass roots communities in Chicago's Uptown. From Campus radical to long term alderwoman in Chicago's 46th Ward Shiller maintains her principles and effectiveness in fighting racism and building community led coalitions that took on and gained power against Chicago's political machine. A story of personal and political triumph against all odds." --Jeffrey Haas