Congresswoman Cardiss Collins
On September 24, 1931, the first African American female congresswoman from Illinois, Cardiss Collins was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Collins was elected in a special election on June 5, 1973 to replace her husband, Congressman George Collins who died in a plane crash aboard United Airlines Flight 553 on December 8, 1972.
She served twelve consecutive congressional terms from 1973 to 1997 while representing the 7th district of Illinois. Collins in 1979 was elected president of the Congressional Black Congress. She provided leadership in congress as a chair and member of several committees. She became the first African American to serve as Democratic Whip At-Large. Collins is remembered as a champion for the rights of African Americans, women and the poor. She died on February, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia at age 81.