Tuesdays Tribute-Maggie Kuhn

I  first encountered Maggie Kuhn while watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the early 70’s . My Dad explained who she was and that she was a key figure in the “Grey Panthers” an advocacy and Social Justice movement for the “Elderly”. I don’t remember the conversation between Ms Kuhn and Mr. Carson, but I do remember being impressed with her tough yet funny demeanor…and the fact hat she had casually tossed out a quip that make Johnny Carson blush. In my mind that was a pretty impressive achievement.
So who was this sassy old lady capable of knocking the biggest star of late night television off his square?
At that point Maggie was older, in her 70’s, had just earned  recognition for her public reaction having been forced into mandatory retirement. She and other Elders formed the Grey Panthers with an emphasis on elder rights and nursing home reform, but also were actively involved in other areas of Social Justice including youth rights and opposition to the Vietnam war.
Maggie’s activism did not suddenly emerge in her older years, in fact she had been a progressive figure her entire life. Maggie came from rather Conservative roots and credited her formal education for nurturing her passion for Social Justice.
Throughout her lifetime Maggie dedicated her career to that passion; first by teaching at the YWCA in the 1930’s and 40’s where she educated young women about topics such as workers rights, cultural discrimination and sexuality. For the following 20 years Maggie worked for the Presbyterian Church where she continued to educate and advocate for Social Reform. It was the Church  that released her at age 65 due to mandatory retirement policy, but Maggie continued to be a witty outspoken voice for Justice and Equality until her death in 1995. If you’d  like to learn more about Maggie’s, life, activism and feisty nature you can find her autobiography “No Stone Unturned” pub. October, 1991, or “Get out There and Do Something” pub June, 1972.
As we grow older we need women like Maggie Kuhn to continue the battle for equal rights and dignity for Older adults. Better yet we can emulate her determination and dedication to Social Justice.
No Stone Unturned: The Life and Times of Maggie Kuhn

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


About nanakoosa

Me...I am a trained Advocate and Counselor with 20 years experience working with Youth and Families. My most recent employment brought me to the field of Domestic and Sexual Violence Counseling and support. I myself am a Survivor of violence and have been on both side of the service desk, which provides for a unique, often conflicting, theoretical orientation. I am a regular blogger, journal keeper and story teller. My current focus is to give voice to the experiences of survivors, to shine some light in the dark corners of family life where all the spiders and creepy things hide. I also enjoy writing about my unconventional childhood in the tumultuous 60's and am dabbling in memoir writing. I have three wonderful children, two fabulous granddaughters and an assortment of pets. View all posts by nanakoosa

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