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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Back Out On the Streets

“Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.” Alice Walker


A few days before all those worldwide Women’s Marches on January 21, I read an article in a local paper that addressed activism, asking at one point how one can know if s/he is an activist.

And the first image that came to mind was from 1961, when, as a freshman at Northern Illinois University, I joined an “action” against the school’s crappy cafeteria food.

Prior to that—while at an all-girls Catholic high school in suburbia—I have no memory of participating in anything similar, though I do believe the nuns, without realizing it, were training us to think and act far beyond our eventual roles as good Catholic wives and mothers. 

How else to account for the large percentage of us who were on our way to college in 1961? Especially a year before the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1962?

You see, something was clearly afoot early on in the 1960s, and any aware and educated woman could not ignore all that was coming at them in that decade, culminating in 1968, the year both Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy were assassinated and Viet Nam war protesters took to the streets, including me and Philip LaChapelle who peacefully assembled one August night in Grant Park.

For many of us, the “actions” we were involved in then were now way beyond anything as benign as bad food. Now, lives were at stake. Surely participating in those kinds of actions would make one a lifelong activist.

For more about 1968, and the roots of so many older adults’ activism, click here:



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