Carry it Forward and Pass it On

I recently received two very moving communications. The first was a letter from one of our younger donors and the second was an email about one of our oldest.

Bea, who faithfully supported the RFC since she first learned of our existence in the early 1990’s, passed away earlier this month at the age of 91. Her son emailed us a summary of her life, portions of which I quote below:

“Her ninety one years were magnified by the fierce passion she brought to things she cared about: Bea was an early feminist and a life-long participant in struggles for peace and justice.

Bea’s earliest years were formed by what she learned from her mother, an anti-Czar revolutionary. Bea watched Eva hold the family together through the harshest years of the Depression. Eva taught her about the strength of all women. Bea watched her own family, and others, overcome desperation. She saw people grow stronger when they came together to confront social challenges and resist injustice. She watched the Unemployment Councils move evicted families back into their homes minutes after being evicted. These were the stories she would tell her children about the depression, stories of inspiration.

Bea dedicated her life to fighting the Good Fight in all of the contemporary causes for peace and social justice. Her children vividly remember standing outside the United Nations with Bea. While we chanted “Open up the UN, we want ice cream!” everyone else was chanting “Open up the UN, we want peace!”

In the summer of 1957, Bea joined with others to lead the effort to integrate housing in Levittown. She stood up to the racists. Never flinching, she shone as an example of righteousness.

In the mid 1960s Bea decided it was the right time to go to college. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree and continued on to graduate school where she earned a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education at age 49. She worked as a Head Start teacher, an administrator, and eventually as a NJ State Early Childhood Licensing Agent. During these years she continued her devotion to waging the struggle for a better life, in this instance on behalf of the youngest.

Her last work involved tutoring adult learners and coordinating a hospice program in Southern Ocean County. She volunteered weekly at Southern Ocean County Hospital up until two weeks before she died.”

Bea was a remarkable woman, but one of the things that makes the RFC community so inspiring is that her life story is not all that different from so many of our supporters of her generation.

We also received the following letter from 25-year-old Emma:

“I recently received money as part of the [legal] settlement …. The suit [was] brought by those of us arrested at the Anti-Prison Industrial Complex demo in … 2000. I was arrested with my mom and was one of the 25 ‘juvis’ arrested. I was 14, the second youngest. The settlement was, I understand, the biggest of its kind in U.S. history. The arrests themselves were not a big deal; we were out in 6 hours. I wasn’t particularly upset by the whole thing, [but] my mom who had to watch me being taken away was deeply affected. Funny how we kids focus on the impact of our arrests on us, but less on our parents.… Naturally some of the settlement needs to go back into the relevant activist pot ….”

It is so heartening to hear such stories from members of our community. Whether they are 91 or 14, targeted activists AND our supporters remain dedicated to struggles for economic and social justice. So many of you demonstrate an indomitable spirit that is a great source of hope for us all.

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