HUNDREDS GATHERED THIS PAST MONDAY TO WITNESS 102 YEAR OLD WOMAN RECEIVE THE DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
1/19/2021, 9:58 a.m.
Tyrone Ward- Mayor of Robbins, Illinois- will be joined by U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, numerous elected officials and Cook County residents in presenting the 4th Annual Robbins Dr. Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement Award to 102 year old Catherine Stovall. Ms. Stovall’s strong advocacy for education and the rights of women/minorities will be detailed during the Village of Robbins 5th Annual MLK Freedom Awards.
“Ms. Stovall has lived in our community for over 68 years and has been a leading advocate for the upward mobility of African Americans not only in Cook County, but throughout the nation.” says Mayor Ward.
Representative Debbie Meyers-Martin adds, Ms. Stovall's life struggle and her fight for mankind is the absolute reason in which I chose public service as a career. I'm standing on her shoulders and seeking to make her proud in my endeavors on a daily basis. She is truly deserving of an award bearing Dr. King's name."
Catherine Stovall was born on August 1, 1919 in Carleton, Alabama, the third child born to Ira and Eva Davis, and one of 11 children. She grew up on a farm. Her father was not a sharecropper. He owned his own land, which he inherited from his father, Jack.
After she completed 8th grade, she began working as a teacher’s assistant during the school year, teaching the younger children how to read, write, and do arithmetic.
Catherine lived through the Great Depression of 1929-1933. The Depression was no fun. They hardly had food to eat and searched the fields looking for something, anything to eat. The sun was hot and scorched the vegetables and fruit. Somehow, they always had something to eat, whether they liked it or not. They didn’t have a radio, television, running water or indoor plumbing.
After the death of her first husband, she moved to Robbins in 1952 to look for a job. Her first job was with Motorola; and she subsequently worked for Allied and the Chicago Board of Education, from which she retired. She remarried in 1957 to Russell Stovall. Altogether she had eight children.
Although Catherine became a voice for education had always wanted to get her GED. Helping her children with their homework inspired her to return to school after the last child graduated from high school. She was awarded her GED at age 71, after 13 attempts to pass the test. After receiving her GED, she completed two years of college at Northeastern and took additional courses at Malcolm X College.
Her advocacy for women and minorities has afforded her ability to travel to the World’s Fair in Canada in 1964, the Bahamas, and Ghana. She has enjoyed several other opportunities that led to her visiting ports of call in Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, St. Marteen, Hawaii, and Alaska and traveled to 38 of the 50 United States.
Through it all with the grace of God, she made it. And her children didn’t do too badly, either. Of the 7, 6 went on to college, 4 completed their Bachelor of Arts degree and three of those four completed their master’s degree. The lone child who didn’t attend college chose to join the Army and served his country honorably.
She’s lived through 18 Presidents of the United States. And still lives independently.