Father Martin B. Mangan
"Eloquent spokesman for human rights; resolute defender of social justice; pastor to the labor movement of Decatur."
During the struggles of organized labor in Decatur throughout the 1990s, there was no figure more committed to justice and unionism than Father Mangan, beloved priest and voice of the people. A native of Springfield, Illinois, Father Mangan chose to devote his life to activism and labor causes, and served various communities throughout Illinois before settling in Decatur. There he was active in neighborhood groups and community programs, and served as a leader in labor confrontations with corporations such as Caterpillar Tractor and Bridgestone-Firestone. He resisted attempts by corporations at silencing him, and became an avid student of labor history, staying involved in the struggle for workers’ rights until his death in 2001.
Leslie F. Orear
"A lifetime committed to working people; making labor history as eloquent voice for The Packinghouse Worker and preserving labor history as guiding light for the ILHS."
Les Orear began working in the meat packing industry in Chicago during the Great Depression, and was one of the first workers to sign up to be represented by the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee of the CIO in 1936. He became the editor of its national newspaper The Packinghouse Worker in 1937. He was sent to work on the organizing staff of the union and returned as assistant to the vice-president in charge of organization. In the early 1950s he returned to the editorship of the national newspaper where he remained until the merger with the Amalgamated Meat Cutters in 1968. Orear stayed on as a staff assistant to the national officers until his retirement after 40 years of service to his union. In 1969, he founded the Illinois Labor History Society and was elected as president, a role he served until 2006, then becoming president emeritus.