PEORIA — Feminist icon and Peoria native Betty Friedan will soon have a new tribute near her childhood home.
On July 9, members of the Betty Friedan Hometown Tribute Committee will dedicate a memorial bench and signage for the author of "The Feminine Mystique" in Upper Bradley Park.
A plaque on it will read "Peoria Native Who Changed the World."
During an interview with then-Journal Star opinion page editor Barbra Mantz Drake for the paper's "Legacy Project" series on notable Peorians, Friedan reminisced about her time in the park, playing there with friends and walking with her father, Harry Goldstein. The family lived nearby on Farmington Road.
In a news release announcing the dedication plans, Drake, now a member of the tribute committee that raised the funds for the bench, suggested the location near the children's playground also sends a message about Friedan's longstanding commitment to families and children.
"I never believed in feminism against the family," Friedan said in her writings.
She also credited Peoria with influencing her life. In that same 1999 interview with Drake, she said in Peoria she “learned the power of community. In Peoria there really was a kind of can-do spirit of community organizing. If there was a problem, you could organize in the community to deal with the problem.”
Friedan's publication of her book in 1963 is credited with helping launch the modern feminist movement. She went on to be a co-founder of groups including the National Organization for Women, the National Women's Political Caucus and the National Abortion Rights Action League.
In a news release, Peoria Park District executive director Emily Cahill said, "We think Betty would be pleased and look forward to girls and women sitting on the bench and learning about and being inspired by the many contributions of Betty Friedan.”
The dedication will be held at 1 p.m. on July 9.