Leaping from Our Spheres
The 21-year-old white man, clad in black despite the June swelter, entered Emanuel AME church in Charleston and sat for a while silently observing a small group of African American congregants holding Wednesday night bible study. And then, according to news reports, almost an hour after he arrived, he stood and pulled out a gun.
When he was asked — when he was begged — not to shoot, he said he had to. “You are raping our women and taking over our country.” And he proceeded to open fire, then fled. Continue reading
In college, I went to a Take Back the Night march with some of my friends (mostly female) from our Students for a Democratic Society chapter. There was solemnity and sharing, but also passion and speeches; by the end of it we found ourselves worked up and ready to keep moving. So I followed the organizers on a continued march around campus, holding signs and chanting slogans. We went to all the campus greens, and even into some dorms. In one of the dorms that many of the athletes lived in, a number of men came out into to hall to see what all the noise was. They had a range of reactions, but I remember someone asking “What the **** are the guys doing with them?”
On June 7, 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that the marital right to privacy was guaranteed in the Constitution, and therefore it was no longer legal to criminalize the acts of informing about and providing contraception to couples. The SCOTUS decision was made in the context of a law suit brought by Estelle Griswold, medical director for Planned Parenthood in Connecticut, who had been found guilty, along with a colleague, as accessory in providing what were then illegal birth control devices. Continue reading
Living near three college campuses—and our town high school—I am always very aware at this time of year that graduation is upon us. The side streets are jammed with overflow parking, the sidewalks are full of proud families and cap and gown wearing students.
My own class of 1970 at the University of California was denied a real-time ceremony in the Greek Theater, the first and last time ever. The war in Southeast Asia, especially the Cambodia invasion, had caused too much tension on campus—or so argued the administration—to risk a public gathering. So many agitated young people might use the occasion to continue the spirited protests that had marked my entire undergraduate tenure. Instead, our diplomas were mailed. We waited 20 years before being invited back in 1990 for a mock ceremony, and were then urged to join and donate generously to the alumnae association.
Last week, the Columbia University Class Day ceremony was the scene of a 2015-style protest; this time due to the school’s handling of sexual assault. Senior Emma Sulkowicz crossed the stage carrying a mattress. She has been hauling it around campus until the fellow student she had accused of rape was no longer permitted there. Instead of being disciplined, her alleged attacker, Paul Nungesser, had been cleared of charges and has filed a federal discrimination law suit against the school, citing harassment in the aftermath of the investigation. Continue reading
Someday I will have the time, or take the time, to write an essay or sermon about how everything I know about being in an effective empowering and “mattering” organization I learned in my time working as a director of government and community relations for Planned Parenthood. It is so true. Continue reading