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Teacher Activist Karen Lewis Passes Away At 67

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Karen Lewis: Karen Lewis, Former President of Chicago Teachers Union passed away On Sunday after fighting a year-long battle with brain cancer.  

Her spokesperson Stephenie Gadlin shared the news on Facebook said: “Long live the memory of Karen Lewis, who joined the ancestors last night.” She called her a champion of people and said that she was honoured to be her voice in the past few years and during her tenure as the President of the teachers union in Chicago. ” I send love and light to her husband, stepchildren, grandchildren and loved ones,” she added. 

Karen Lewis was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2015 at that time she was planning to run for Chicago’s Mayor office. In 2017 she suffered a stroke. 
The fiery Lewis was known for speaking her mind. As the President of CTU, she a membership of 32,000.  She led the Chicago Teachers Union and its 32,000 members in a style hadn’t been seen in years and tangled with then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Former Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel paid his tribute to Lewis in his tweet. He wrote, “Karen Lewis was a tough and tireless champion for public education and for Chicago’s children, one who was never afraid to fight for what she believed in.” 

Lewis spearheaded the first teachers strike in 25 years in 2011 at Grant Park. She then led them to march for the issues affecting the school students in 2012. 

Since then teachers have demonstrated strikes wearing red at the US Capitol against the cutbacks on school funding.

The current President of CTU remembered Karen and said, “May her memory be a blessing.” 

In 2018, Karen Lewis underwent weight loss surgery and lost about 100 pounds. When asked about it she said she was feeling really good. “It’s the quality of life,” she said. 

The teachers union issued their statement and said that they are in ” deep mourning”. “Karen taught us how to fight, and she taught us how to love. She was a direct descendant of the legendary Jackie Vaughn, the first Black, female president of our local.” the statement read. They said that both Vaughan and Lewis were advocates for education children. The statement further called Karen Lewis a “brawler with sharp wit” 

On Karen’s contribution to the teachers’ movement, the statement added, “Karen did not just lead our movement. Karen was our movement.”