Bench at Bradley Park is dedicated to native Betty Friedan, leader of the feminist movement

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. — Peoria community leaders dedicated a memorial bench at the upper Bradley Park to remember Betty Friedan, the author of “The Feminine Mystique”, which influenced the feminist movement.

“Her book, ‘Feminine Mystique,’ has changed people’s lives,” said Esther Cohen, family member of Friedan.

Friedan was a Peoria native “Who changed the world.” That’s according to leaders who have dedicated time and effort to make sure Friedan leaves a mark in her hometown.

“She contributed so much, not just to this community but to the nation and to the world. She was way ahead of her time in understanding that women have always been capable of doing everything that a man can do,” said Maureen Naughtin, curator at the Peoria Historical Society.

Friedan took long walks with her dad at Bradley Park and played with her friends there when she was a child. Because of its significance, it was the perfect place for a dedication.

“How appropriate it’s here in this park across from her home by a children’s playground, everything of course symbolizing what she stood for as far as promoting women and families,” said Naughtin.

Barb Drake was a journalist who got to interview Friedan while she was alive. She said Peoria shaped her.

To some, this might just be one more bench at a park, but for others, it can encourage them to learn more about Peoria’s role in history.

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