Current AffairsFamily/CommunicationPeopleReflectionMarch 26, 20182Marjory Stoneman Douglas Would Be Proud

As my hus­band and I were dri­ving to our local #march­forourlives ral­ly last Sat­ur­day, we were talk­ing about the Park­land Flori­da sur­vivors, and how their pas­sion, courage, clar­i­ty and grit have been giv­ing us hope for the future. Then we start­ed won­der­ing about the name of their school. Who was Mar­jo­ry Stone­man Dou­glas? Why is their school named after her?  And why do they so often refer to it by its full name, rather than the much eas­i­er MSD acronym?

from Wikipedia

As it turns out, Mar­jo­ry Stone­man Dou­glas would prob­a­bly be right there on the front lines with these kids if she were still alive. She spent her whole life fight­ing for caus­es in which she believed pas­sion­ate­ly, often in the face of extreme pres­sure and open ridicule.

She was born in 1890, and grad­u­at­ed with hon­ors from Welles­ley col­lege in 1912, when less than 1% of Amer­i­can women had a col­lege edu­ca­tion.  She then became a reporter for the Mia­mi Her­ald, which was owned by her father. Ini­tial­ly hired as a soci­ety reporter assigned to report on par­ties, engage­ments and wed­dings, she was soon giv­en respon­si­bil­i­ty for the edi­to­r­i­al page and, a few years lat­er, was made assis­tant edi­tor of the paper.  She began writ­ing about the social and polit­i­cal issues that would become her focus through­out her life:  wom­en’s suf­frage, civ­il rights, and — her abid­ing pas­sion — the sav­ing of the Everglades.

In the ear­ly 1920s, Stone­man Dou­glas left the Her­ald to become a free­lance writer (her career for the remain­der of her long life), and at the same time became inter­est­ed in the Flori­da Ever­glades and sav­ing this crit­i­cal nat­ur­al resource from over-devel­op­ment. In 1947, her book The Ever­glades: Riv­er of Grass, became a best­seller and cat­alyzed the pro­tec­tion of this area, which has since become a a World Her­itage Site, an Inter­na­tion­al Bios­phere Reserve, a Wet­land of Inter­na­tion­al Impor­tance, and a spe­cial­ly pro­tect­ed area under the Carta­ge­na Treaty.

Stone­man Dou­glas lived to be 108 and fought for the caus­es she cared about — sav­ing the Ever­glades, assur­ing the rights of women, peo­ple of col­or and the poor — until short­ly before her death.  In 1993, at the age of 103, she received the Con­gres­sion­al Medal of Free­dom for her life­time work.  Though phys­i­cal­ly tiny (she was just over five feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds), she was tire­less, bril­liant and artic­u­late; a fel­low reporter said of her “She had a tongue like a switch­blade and the moral author­i­ty to embar­rass bureau­crats and politi­cians and make things happen.”

That descrip­tion reminds me of Emma Gon­za­lez and Nao­mi Wadler.

As my hus­band and I joined more than 7,000 of our neigh­bors and friends on the Walk­way Over the Hud­son at Pough­keep­sie in the #march­forourlives, I was thrilled to see how many of my fel­low marchers were kids and teenagers. I hon­or Emma, her fel­low stu­dents, and all the oth­er young peo­ple from around the world who have been gal­va­nized to take action on the issue of gun vio­lence. They are con­tin­u­ing to blaze Mar­jo­ry Stone­man Dou­glas’ trail in speak­ing out and act­ing to counter the forces of greed and self­ish­ness in our coun­try.  I’m grate­ful to her and to this new gen­er­a­tion of activists, for not only believ­ing the world can be a bet­ter place, but for doing some­thing to make it so.


  • MaryKK

    April 11, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    Very inspi­ra­tional!


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