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Cats, Chicago, Vice Lords & Other Visions"
a retrospective exhibit
held spring 2005 at
"The Playground" in Duluth, Minnesota.
Click here for photos
and here for the review in
the Duluth Budgeteer News.
In Memory of
Jean Birkenstein Washington

Jean Birkenstein Washington, a Chicago educator, artist, mathematician and civil rights activist who challenged segregation in the city's public schools, died Saturday, June 28, 2003 of respiratory illness. She was 77. Read more...

"Why we buried our mom in a pet cemetery" A tribute to Jean by her son, Robin Washington, published in the July 26 Boston Herald and the July 27 Chicago Sun Times (Page 1)
(Read more...)

"Her daughter Robin told the Chicago Sun-Times..." The story of Jean's last wishes has been quoted - and misquoted - around the world. She would have gotten a laugh from this.
(Read more...)

Jean was interred on Monday, July 7th, at the Aarrowood Pet Cemetery in accordance with her wishes. Rabbi Capers Funnye presided. Aarrowood is at 24090 N Highway 45, Vernon Hills, Illinois, 1-1/2 mile northwest of the junction of Milwaukee Road & Half Day Road.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, July 26th, at the Francis W. Parker School at Clark and Webster, Chicago.

An Earth Day/Birthday celebration was held April 22, 2004 in honor of Jean. Click here for photos and more information.

This is the site where you can find learn and share information and memories about Jean. Look here in the coming weeks to keep up with the current news. - Erin Washington, webmistress and granddaughter

You may also contact her sons:
• Glen Washington, (847) 470-9767 and
• Robin Washington, (508) 393-9892,

Earlier, I created a Yahoo! Group (list serv) to serve as the first Guest Book for this site, so here is the link to the site: - You have to sign up/log in as a member of Yahoo! Groups, but it's free and unrelated to Yahoo! email.


Photos of Jean can be viewed here.

• Read her obituary here.

• Check out her website,, created by Dana Smalley with animation by Erin Washington

• Look at the mock movie poster Erin created in 1998. Robin had an idea for a film about Jean and Atlee's 1955 roadtrip to Mexico, and the racism they encountered as an interracial couple.

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