Marilyn Clement – June 30, 1935 to August 3, 2009
“…working for the common good is a wonderful way to live – a wonderful way to spend a lifetime.” – Marilyn Clement, June 7, 2003
Marilyn wrote a number of articles on healthcare for the site. You can read them all here.
Marilyn Clement, founder and National Coordinator of Healthcare-NOW!, passed away on Monday, August 3 surrounded by her children, Scott and Pam, her daughter-in-law Liz, and the caring thoughts of all of us who knew her, worked with her, and had come to love her.
Marilyn’s life and work was dedicated to social justice. She worked tirelessly to build, speak, and spread the word about meaningful civil rights and healthcare reform. Her leadership, vision, and passion helped to strengthen the recognition of healthcare as a human right throughout the nation.
Born in Tulia, Texas, and educated at McMurray College in Abilene, Marilyn’s spark for social justice ignited in West Texas. “My parents were sharecroppers and people of faith. They were also gospel singers in the tradition of West Texas. The United Methodist Church challenged me as a youth and trained me to work for the common good,” she reminisced in one of the many talks she gave, this one in 2003. She began her career in the 60s with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta. She met one of her closest life-long friends in Atlanta, Margie Rece. “ We’d go to meetings together, both of us with our kids in tow. Our kids were all about the same age. What a time we had …”
She was also blessed to know and work directly with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders. The Rev. C. T. Vivian was one of them, attesting to Marilyn’s special gifts just after he learned of her death. “Marilyn was much more effective than many who came to the aid of the civil rights movement at that time. She understood racism, and she understood the suffering in the South at a deeper level than most people could. She knew how to organize people and follow through. She grasped the spiritual side of the civil rights movement, and she understood the politics of it. She never stopped being active.” Rev. Vivian credited the Methodist Church, and Methodist women in particular, for some of Marilyn’s readiness. The Methodist women in the South, he explained, were confronting racism sooner than many other faith-based organizations.
When Dr. King was under heavy criticism for speaking out against the war in Vietnam, his words made it clear to Marilyn that we cannot stand silent in the face of such injustice. “There is nothing to fear. We have drawn the line. And we have chosen to be on this side, on the side of justice. There is nothing to be afraid of. What can they do? They can kill us, yes. But still they cannot kill the justice that we stand for.”
In 1968, she and her family moved to Queens in New York City, where she connected with life-long friends and fellow activists Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr. and Peggy Billings. The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) had just formed in 1967, and Marilyn served as its Associate Director from 1968-1975. IFCO was the first and only national ecumenical foundation committed exclusively to the support of community organizing, targeting oppressed communities and people of color. IFCO’s commitment to racial justice and community organizing was a perfect match for Marilyn. Rev. Walker describes Marilyn as “a friend and inspiration. She was prophetic, demanding justice without fear or inhibition.”
Much later, in 2003, Marilyn delivered a talk entitled “How I Came to Work for the Common Good.” She explained that working for the common good “is a wonderful way to live – a wonderful way to spend a lifetime. I entered that work through no virtue of my own, but through the mentoring and nurture, support and inspiration of a whole community of people all over the world… A community that taught me not to be afraid, but to live with a sense of fearlessness. It included the movement for justice in my town, my country and around the world … all taught me to be unafraid.”
From 1976-1989, Marilyn served as the Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York. As a featured speaker at CCR’s 35th anniversary event in 2002, Marilyn reflected on her time as Director. “The proudest achievement for me was the creation of the Ella Baker Student Program. I thought of it in the midst of Miss Baker’s funeral in Harlem. I was deeply moved by the dozens of leaders of the civil rights movement arrayed together all on one platform telling the story of this unsung hero, this tiny powerful woman.” Ella Baker encouraged students to lead the nation in the struggle for civil rights, sowing the seeds for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Marilyn envisioned how CCR’s intern program could teach legal skills and pass on the history Marilyn learned at Ella Baker’s funeral. Marilyn summed up its progress, “The Ella Baker Student Intern Program succeeded and still succeeds, magnificently. Hundreds of students have trained in the program … they are scattered throughout the progressive legal landscape.”
While at CCR, and working with her friends at IFCO, Marilyn helped found the national Anti Klan Network, combining legal cases and organizing work to counter Klan and Nazi terrorism. Her colleague from the SCLC days, Rev. C.T. Vivian became the first chair of the Anti-Klan Network, later known as the Center for Democratic Renewal. This work brought her to John Conyers’ Judiciary Committee, where CCR’s founder, Arthur Kinoy, testified about Klan violence.
During the 1992-94 round of health care reform, Marilyn formed “Health Care: We Gotta Have It,” an organization of women advocating for single payer health care. It was a forerunner to Healthcare-NOW!, a broader network, formed in 2003, involving thousands of single payer activists working in local coalitions all over the country.
Marilyn’s next challenge put her in charge of the US Section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, headquartered in Philadelphia, where she lived from 1994 to 1997. Always concerned about human rights on an international scale, WILPF provided the opportunity for international organizing. She helped organize the WILPF Peace Train to the IVth International Women’s Congress in Beijing in 1995.
WILPF shared the Peace Train story On June 7, 2009 when many of us celebrated Marilyn’s work at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. “Marilyn’s enthusiasm and determination in promoting the 1995 Peace Train brought a delegation of 230 women (and 10 men) on a three week journey across Eastern Europe, Russia and the Great Steppes of China to the UN Conference on Women after stopping all along the way, meeting women of different cultures, listening to each others’ stories, then to carry the message to a gathering of women in Beijing who worked together to construct a Platform of Action which has resonated as a touchstone of activism for almost 15 years.”
She assisted the African National Congress in organizing its largest national congress just prior to the first universal suffrage election in South Africa in 1994. “We at WILPF are proud of the work Marilyn has done for the world from both inside and outside WILPF, and we celebrate her brilliance and all of her successes…..”
In 1999, Marilyn joined the Economic Justice Office – Women’s Division, of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. She continued her international work, connecting United Methodist women in the US with those in Burma. She worked with Methodist women to act on their commitment to social justice, especially health care. One of Marilyn’s colleagues at the United Methodist Women, Lois Dauway, extolled her organizing skills. “Marilyn was a well-organized, creative-thinking, determined fighter for justice. She was truly a trouble-maker in the name of the Lord. United Methodist Women were blessed to count Marilyn as one of us.” Marilyn retired from the United Methodist Church’s Women’s Division in 2003, but continued to work with the Women’s Division to build support for single payer health care.
Although not new for Marilyn, healthcare organizing moved front and center when Marilyn learned that Congressman John Conyers, Jr. would introduce far-reaching single payer legislation at the start of the 108th Congress in 2003. Congressman Conyers knew that universal healthcare legislation could not advance in Congress at that time. He knew a movement would have to grow behind it. Marilyn took that call to heart. As Mark Dudzic from the Labor Party, a close friend and ally, explains it, “Back in 2003 Marilyn took this on. She knew then that this would be her legacy, advancing the fight for guaranteed national health care as far as possible for as long as she was able. We can’t thank her enough for all she gave to this cause.”
When she started, she didn’t know what a huge boost Michael Moore’s feature-length documentary, SiCKO, would give to the movement. Marilyn encouraged volunteers all over the country to greet people as they left movie theaters, signing them up to fight for single payer health care. Michael Moore used his web site to steer people to Healthcare-NOW! because he knew they would get put to work. “Marilyn Clement was a generous, compassionate and thoughtful person whose work was invaluable in organizing the grassroots movement for a single payer health care system. Even in her illness, she continued to fight tirelessly for health care justice. Before she passed away, she implored us to ‘keep up the fight.’ Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to do exactly that.”
Marilyn served as the National Coordinator for Healthcare-NOW until her death. Doctors diagnosed her with multiple myeloma in June of 2008, and Marilyn had to step back from her leadership role at Healthcare-NOW to undergo extensive and painful treatments. A tribute to her organizing skills, a group of nine committed activists responded to her call, and stepped up to form a Steering Committee to assume leadership during her illness.
At the June 7, 2009 event at Judson Memorial Church, Marilyn’s consistent optimism rang loud and clear as she remarked to the crowd, “We are on the verge of winning something that is so desperately needed for all of our people… Love to all of you. Keep up the fight… And we are going to win single-payer healthcare.”
Michael Lighty, Public Policy Director with the California Nurses Association, came from California to attend the June 7 event, representing one of the largest national organizations supporting single payer health care. “Nurses and patient advocates mourn the passing of Marilyn Clement, who will continue to inspire us to organize for single-payer healthcare. Marilyn combined a passion for justice with the organizational skills that are necessary to turn our moral imperative into the reality of healthcare for all. We promise to keep her spirit alive as we fight for HR 676/S 703 in Congress and wage our struggles in the states for single payer.”
Reflecting on her life, her life long friend and colleague, Peggy Billings put it this way, “ She was a great woman and the struggle will miss her. Her loss will encourage all of us to step up and work harder for single payer and to honor her memory. I love her dearly; she was a great friend and pal.”
We remember Marilyn’s words as she commented on her lifetime of organizing for social justice: “Being an organizer is an honorable profession… Spending my life as an organizer for change in this world has been a fantastic way to spend a life, and doing it with all of you is a great way to live. As Doctor King said, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Healthcare-NOW! recognizes the great loss to everyone in the single-payer healthcare and human rights communities that Marilyn’s passing represents. Our resolve to continue and strengthen the movement she started is stronger than ever. As we mourn her loss, we also celebrate the amazing gifts she has given to us all.
Marilyn is survived by her brother, Les Boydstun; her children Pam and Scott; her daughter-in-law Liz Arwine, widow of her deceased son Mark; and three grandchildren – Kendall, Chelsea and Alex. Following Marilyn’s wishes, the family is planning a memorial service to be held at Judson Church on Washington Square later this fall. We will provide details when they are available.
The family suggests that those who wish to donate in Marilyn’s memory should do so to the Center for Constitutional Rights or to Healthcare-NOW!
My name is Susan Rice. I was Marilyn’s friend and travel agent for over 25years. She was the most caring person you will ever meet.
Her warmth and love to all of her family and friends was the most amazing of any person you will ever meet.
Marilyn was a giver to her family and friends on all of her causes.
She will be remembered our hearts forever.
I was blessed to Know her…Susan Rice
Susan, you have said it so well. Some of the words of a song I wrote for another friend who passed away 2-11-07; “In my heart you will leave a loving legacy, one that your friends and family will see.”
Her loss hurt more than few recent losses.
Marilyn came to visit her ailing son, Mark, but she invited myself and co-activist and friend Dennis to visit her in Lone Tree, TX.
I was living in Tyler, TX at the time and she managed to turn a personal visit into an organizing event for the two of us. Whenever I pass through Tulia, I will think of her and I am glad to have had her in my life.
Her recent email to me on April 2, 2009, was to not be discouraged, we are winning!
I am John, also go by nickname Hai (sounds like high) a Vietname name (first born son). I have talked couple times on the phone; I have really hoped I might meet in person before she did pass on. I have confessed that I believe I am called of God into my music ministry for affordable healthcare; she too responded that she believes she was called of God into her ministry for affordable healthcare and her stand for HR-676.
I promise to do my part in keeping this legacy going on; till EVERY AMERICAN has Access he/she can afford TO THE HEALTHCARE HE/SHE NEEDS.
I felt the same way. When I discovered Healthcare-NOW! I felt like it was the reason I was put on this earth. Yet, in all my talks with Marilyn, we never got into a preachy or overly conventional religious trip. It was always about what was humane, what was right, and how to fix it. She was a very spiritual person who did not need the trappings of religion to find a “ministry.”
I never really shared that feeling a lot because I didn’t want to sound like a fanatic or something, but I really believe that G-d works in mysterious ways. I know that meeting Marilyn was an answered prayer for me so I could be part of this movement. Thanks for sharing that Hai.
I first met Marilyn Clement on the Peace Train, a project she organized in 1995, which traveled from Helsinki, Finland to Beijing, China on a Russian, then Chinese train. There were many moments of political tension and many, many physical discomforts on that memorable trip, but we never saw Marilyn without her smile and positive outlook, as we met with women activists in major European and Asian cities along the way.
Later, I met Marilyn on many occasions at Women’s International, local and national meetings. She was a most gracious host as I stayed with her in her NYC apartment on our way to Vermont where we shared a retreat with women activists there.
I will never forget her hospitality as we ate at a favorite restaurant and attended a Stoppard play.
Our dear Marilyn has left us too soon. May her lasting legacy be the health care reform we so desparately need.
I believe that her life reached out to tens of thousands and her spirit of generosity and sense of justice lives on.
Genevieve O’Hara Brueggemann
St. Louis WILPF
I’ll always remember Marilyn’s graciousness and generosity. The NYC Metro Raging Grannies, affiliated with WILPF NY Metro Branch, enjoyed her hospitality at various meetings at her home. She was warm and friendly and I came to realize that she was a wonderful person and a great leader.
A few years ago, at a celebration of her birthday at the Brecht Forum, I wrote the following song for her, sung to the tune of the Woody Gutherie song “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You”:
Your worked many years for the rights of us all,
When people were needy your answered their call,
And you are still championing our rights large and small
‘Cause you always keep rolling along.
Marilyn, it’s so good to know you,
(Repeat 2 times)
You’ve spent your life striving to help all us folks (pause)
And you always keep rolling along.
Now your goal is for single payer health care,
It’s needed right now and for all everywhere,
So Bush (Barack) and Congress you better beware
’cause you always keep rolling along.
Corinne, As a singer/songwriter and activist for affordable healthcare I too have had intentions of writing song for Marilyn Clement. Of course, I would also want to make sure it is okay with her survivors.
In reality, I believe she still is living in us. I will do what I can to carry this legacy; we will win HR-676 single-payer.
Marilyn came to Detroit, MI in 1996, on a national peace train along with the international president of WILFP, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Robin Lloyd, publisher. They were my guests. Detroit WILPF viewed their film on the peace train acrossing Europe to the Womens’ Conference in Bejing. There were problems, but the diverse women talked them through.
She stayed with me in 2004, when she was a speaker for the Michigan Alliance to Strengthen Social Security and Medicare, this time as an advocate for HealthCare-NOW.
She changed duties and causes, but her dedication to humanity remained constant. Marilyn’s life is a testimoney to justice, peace, giving and loving.
I met Marilyn at the 2007 HealthCare-NOW! convention, and had a number of phone conversations with her before and after. She was purposeful and persuasive without being overbearing or strident. As a result, she elicited both affection and respect. Her life was a good example, and the video of her Judson Memorial talk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYnbqnXKqKQ, together with the foregoing bio, would be good training material for aspiring organizers.
I worked with Marilyn for many years to promote single payer and Medicare for All. But in all that time we only met once, when she came to Boston last year for a rally on the Common.
She was an inspiration and we’ll all miss her.
Four years ago I sent an email to the Healthcare-NOW website, offering to volunteer, and within hours got an enthusiastic response from Marilyn, who asked me to call her so we could talk. Her dedication to the cause was (and continues to be) a great inspiration to me. I am so glad I went to her tribute in June of this year and got to witness her strength once again, even in the face of the ravages of her cancer. The light in her eyes and the serenity in her face are with me still. Thank you, Marilyn, for all you have given me and all that you did to inspire a movement. You will not be forgotten…
Marilyn had an infectious courage that was like a shot of B12. Having a conversation with her when you needed ideas was like a rain storm in the desert, both refreshing and invigorating.
We will miss her.
Rest in peace.
May warm thoughts of her be the B12 courage shot we need to become energized to press on.
Here’s a link to a picture of Marilyn Clement at a Boston rally for a “Medicare for All” on April 28, 2008.
Marilyn Clement, whom I knew for over 30 years, was nothing if not consistent. She was always on the side of the angels and focused on the issues that impact people the most. The consummate organizer, her latest cause was healthcare for everybody. Though we had known each other in NYC, when I came to Newark she found me here and got me involved in the fight to end the scourge of non-accessible medical treatment, especially for poor and working people.
Her passing this week ought to give us even greater strength to fight and win.
May her memory live forever in our hearts.
I was shocked to read of Marilyn’s passing. I knew that she was having personal struggles with her health but had not heard about her multiple myeloma diagnosis or know the seriousness of her condition.
I worked with Marilyn as part of the independent politics movement and on a range of issues and activities from the mid-70’s on. Our paths diverged over the last 10 or so years after I moved from NYC to New Jersey, but we would occasionally make a connection and it was always good to do so.
There was a period of time in the early 90’s, I believe, when a group of NYC activists were having regular meetings in Marilyn’s apartment. We came from a diverse background but what united us was our belief in the need to try to build a stronger and more unified progressive movement, and for a year or two our meetings at Marilyn’s helped us as we collectively tried to figure out how we could best do our work for social change in a more effective way.
I remember once while we were driving together somewhere making a statement that she considered sexist, and in an amazing way she called me on it in such a way that I realized what I had done but didn’t feel “attacked.” She had a way of being honest and upfront that respected other people, recognized their humanity.
I will miss Marilyn, miss knowing that she is physically with us doing her piece of the essential work we must each do in our own way to bring justice, peace and a clean energy revolution to this world.
Marilyn and her children, Mark, Scott and Pam, and me and my daughter, Raina, spent many good times together in the 1970s, sometimes on Christmas, sometimes on breaks from our work at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Rarely was it that Marilyn took a break. She worked constantly and tirelessly and when I doubted that all of our paths to truth, justice and fairness was attainable, Marilyn would somehow feed me the head-food I needed to start again. She never gave up the Good Fight and never will. She was and will always be a foundation and strength for so many of us struggling to change minds and teach sanity. My arms are wrapped tightly around her as hers are around me. The squeeze is lovely!
Thank you, Marilyn for a life lived with purpose, an example to us all.
Marilyn was very instrumental in helping me come of age as a young woman involved in social change. I appreciate all the conversations that we had during my time as an intern at the WILPF Philadelphia office.
“Marilyn has been with Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) from day one…. She was a teacher, leader in the single-payer movement, but mostly a friend to all of us in PDA. This is a real loss and will require all of us to do even more to carry the single-payer movement forward in Marilyn’s memory.”
My condolences to Marilyn’s family.
Marilyn’s lifetime of work was about love, and that will live on –
“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Thornton Wilder, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”
It’s still a bit of a shock to me. Even several weeks ago, I’d see her posts on our Facebook group page for the California group. A life WELL lived. I’m sorry I never got to meet her in person. She left the world a much better place. Now it’s up to all of us to carry the torch on. Thank you Marilyn.
I did not know Marilyn Clement. However, the glowing praise of so many is a tribute to her talents. My response is to the memory and praise of a remarkable lady is one of sadness. To me her dedication and sacrifice were idealistic but damaging to all the people of the world she loved. May people with like God given gifts use them to spread the love of God as she did, but to teach the God given freedom and associated responsibility and strength to be independent and to make decisions and pay for our own health and well being independently.
I grew up in Tulia, Texas with Marilyn and her brother, Lester, who is my contemporary. We all sang gospel music together with her parents, going about the Texas Panhandle to ‘Singing Conventions’ to sing out of the latest publication of the Stamps-Baxter Company.
I’m very proud to have grown up with such a powerful agent for good as Marilyn. The best memorial we could make for her would be a fine single-payer health care system for the country we love so much.
I’ve known and worked with Marilyn since the 60’s. She was a tireless warrior who stayed on the frontlines. She will be remembered and be a source of encouragement as we continue our march forward. My Condolences to the family. She is still in our hearts.
Before all the publicity and before being in the Michael Moore movie “SiCKO”. Marilyn Clement reached out to my family when I emailed Healthcare Now trying to find someone who could give me direction for help when my insurance and employer continued to deny my husband treatment for his cancer, that was back in 2004. When my husband died in 2006 and Michael Moore contacted me to be in SiCKO I did not know I would finally meet the woman who reached out to us, I did when I testified before US Congress in DC, Marilyn came to me. I remember her telling me how much she admired me for what I was doing, that meant more to me than she’ll ever know, but it was her that I admired and respected, out of every person I emailed, sent DVD’s to including Oprah, Marilyn Clement is the ONLY person that offered advice, help, direction. We have lost a true HERO, but know that her fight will continue through all of us that are fighting too. She never met my husband, but I know he was at the golden gates to greet her. Rest in Peace, Marilyn. You will be missed but NEVER forgotten..
Julie Pierce “SiCKO”
Marilyn’s smile, lilt & spunk will be missed by all she blessed with them, but her long legacy of struggle, courage and commitment to justice will forever light the way for millions she never met.
Thank you, Marilyn.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Marilyn and I were close friends. She helped me during the difficult days of civil rights beginning in 1968 when I had just been elected Executive Secretary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. We traveled with delagations to Israel and Ireland where we worked together for peace and justice. I was elected chairperson of the Division of Church and Society at the time that Lucious Walker was the Executive and Marilyn was on his staff.
Her contribution to peace and justice exceeds more than any single person can describe. I do not know anyone who gave more to the cause than Marilyn.
I remember Marilyn at the founding convention of the Labor Party. I’d met her before that in various peace causes. She always struck me as one of the good ones, a principled and optimistic person, someone you’d want on your side–not an in-fighter. I was always glad she was at the helm of Healthcare-NOW! She was the sort of person you might not talk to for years but feel like you could just jump in with and immediately be on the same page. Her early death is a shock.
Marilyn is now campaigning for justice and peace from the other side. What a special person and dear friend we were privileged to know in WILPF. What a lot she gave to our organisation, bringing together so many networks she had built up through working in the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the anti-poverty and peace movements. She never stopped campaigning and working and standing and striving for justice. She showed us that activism is life long work which is rewarding and joyful despite the magnitude of what we are up against.
We had a tradition of going to movies together, and she introduced me to so many people and ideas and books and campaigns. Her generosity, her support and encouragement directly affected me and my work in WILPF. I will miss her terribly and will always be inspired by her work and grateful to this great woman.
Marilyn is too stong a force for justice, for single payer healthcare, a woman’s right to choose, for farmwworkers rights, for overcoming the ravages of racism, for loving, persistant support for women & men to not remain a presence within each of us.
We love you, Marilyn.
I met Marilyn in 2004 or 2005 when she came to an event supporting single payer put on by the National Nurses Organizing Committee. I had the pleasure of spending a quiet morning with her after the event the next day. We had coffee at IHOP in San Antonio and discussed the issues. She was one of the most sincere,and reasuring people I have ever met with a quiet resolve that grabbed me and I had the distinct feeling of being in the presense of a powerful spirit. As Roosevelt would say, she “walked softly and carried a big stick.”
God’s speed, Marilyn, and may the angels bear you to your final destination with the same grace your life displayed.
I grew up in Tulia with Marilyn and her brother Lester and you could not have ask for a nicer person to be around and grow up with. I just think the Lord that I had the opertunity to know her.
Although I never knew Marylin Clement personally, from our e-mail correspondence, I gather she was a very warm and compassionate person, who cared deeply about social, international and healthcare issues, in this country, and around the world. She will be missed, and may God be with her and her family at this time of grief. I believe the strongest way to honor her legacy, would be for all single payer activists to continue the movement for single payer healthcare legislation, and for the government to pass it, because this will both honor her and be somtehing that will be good for all of America for eternity. Marylin RIP.
Eric Steven Ganguly
I knew Marilyn in Tulia High School when I was a senior and she was a freshman. I didn’t see her again until an all school reunion in Tulia in 2000. I knew her reputation as a social activist, and so I sought her out. Sure enough, she provided contacts that proved essential in bringing a measure of justice out of the unjust Tulia Drug Sting of 1999. Then in early 2004 she provided three members of Friends of Justice a venue for telling the Tulia story. She also provided a place for us to sleep in her Village apartment. I’m grateful to have gotten reacquainted with Marilyn. She was a warrior for justice whose works and words live on.
Marilyn had a gift for finding people’s talents and encouraging them to use these abilities in the service of our cause. She was upbeat, dynamic, and extremely compassionate. I had been searching for more than 10 years for this movement and, one day, I don’t know how, Marilyn’s group showed up in my inbox. I joined immediately and never looked back.
I can’t count the number of times that Marilyn would drop me an e-mail–“Billie, do you want to design….a card…a flyer…a brochure…a poster with Martin Luther King…our BANNER…or even a BUS!?” I always said “yes.” No matter what, I would work into the wee hours of the morning to make the design because I knew it was going to help the cause and I knew that Marilyn would appreciate my efforts. She would zip me back an e-mail. “Oh I love it!” Or: “Can you make it more orangey?”
She was so creative and artistic. Her apartment reflected that–comfortable and yet filled with bold colors and bits of art. She had a lust and joy for life that made it an inspiration just to be with her. When I learned that she had taken in Al Aronowitz’ son when went through hard times, it moved me but it wasn’t surprising. That was Marilyn! And I was thrilled to learn that she was a distant relation to Woody Guthrie. She exemplified his spirit of struggle and dedication to the cause of improving the lives of the have-nots!
I will miss Marilyn terribly. I feel as if a light has gone out. But, thankfully, we have Katie Robbins to carry the torch for Marilyn and all the rest of us. Katie stepped in and, like Marilyn, has called on me for things. Katie–I’ll always try to be there for you!
Let us all honor Marilyn by continuing the struggle she devoted herself to. Let us all remain inspired by her beautiful soul. I am happy that my life was touched by her even for only a few brief years. She enriched everything so much. Let us all remember her with love and with the same devotion that she showed all of us.
NESRI deeply mouns the loss of Marilyn, a great human rights advocate. Marilyn was an inspiration to all of us and she set a wonderful example of what it means to work for rights and justice for all. One of her many legacies is the emerging shift in discourse from health care as a commodity to health care as a right. Rights-based health policy changes will follow, eventually, and when that happens, we will remember Marilyn’s pioneering role.
Anja Rudiger, NESRI
Condolences to her family and those who knew her personally. She will be remembered.
It was with a very heavy heart that I read the news of Marilyn’s passing. Marilyn touched my life deeply as she did so many in the movement and has inspired me to work for this cause. When I heard of her cancer I knew I had to redouble my efforts to try to fill a little piece of the void I knew she was leaving. She will be greatly missed – we now have to be sure we complete the work she so selflessly worked for. Rebecca
I met Marilyn at several WILPF gatherings……….she was soooo full of life & love. May her new “job” in the beyond be to send us urges to continue on continuing on. I doubt whether she’d be up for harp lessons!!! Cookie, Milwaukee, WI WILPF
I met Marilyn while organizing medical students on health care in NYC in 2001-2003. I never got to know her too well but her energy and stick-to-itiveness were infectious even with the younger folk. Her youthful spirit moved them as they should for years to come. May her life’s legacy continue to inspire us all.
I was so very sadden to find out about Marilyn’s passing.
After seeing the movie Sicko I wanted to do something to help change our healthcare system, so my family and I started ProtestHealthcare.org in 2007. I remember doing a search on the internet and came across Healthcare-NOW and wanted to be part of this great movement for change. I soon got a phone call from Marilyn. We spoke on the phone on and off for a few months – mostly emails. She was so encouraging and positive when I couldn’t get my state’s representatives to hear our voices about supporting HR 676 in Texas. She said keep working hard and it will pay off – be persistent. A NO can turn into a YES.
I had the pleasure of meeting her at a conference based in Chicago. She was just as warm as she was over the phone. Her energy could be felt throughout the room when she spoke.
Although, I only had a “brief” encounter with Marilyn, she will always have an impact on my life. If only we could all achieve what she had in her lifetime. She will be missed.
Katie, those are my words too. I too have grieved her loss. But we will keep this fire burning bright; affordable healthcare will be our right. HR-676. I have hoped I would meet her at the 2008 Strategy Conference. However, I will use same words I used in a song for another friend;
I wish that you could stay, but I know you had to pass,
your trials are now over, eternal joy at last,
in my heart you will leave a loving legacy,
one that your friends and family will see.
I first met Marilyn and her three children,roughly the age of mine, when she walked in to the Church of the Covenant, a Methodist Church “for church dropouts”, named by the members,in Cobb County,just outside of Atlanta. Ga. Her first words were “We just heard the greatest singing group. They are called the Beatles.” And we became at once as close as sisters. We volunteered in a pre-school program for our youngest, went to civil rights meetings together and sat in her hall closet to talk while our 6 childen played together. She went to work with Martin Luther King and I went to alot of the organizing meetings with her, became part of the integrated community.
Since I left Atlanta in “67, we have stayed in touch by phone, have visited when I was at home in N.Y. when she was workng for IFCO, roomed together in Cuba when she was with WILPF (went to the very first meeting for us of that group at the home of Benjamin Mays (who I had known when I was a Danforth Graduate and he was an advisor.
I moved to Augusta, started antiwar, draft and military counseling, AWOL and Desertion Counseling, Prison Visitation. Was a Quaker at that time and became tax resisters,husband went to jail for tax resistance,
I went back to school to become an,RN working in psych/mental health and with PTSD with Viet Nam Vets.
When Marilyn called and asked me to come to Atlanta when she was to be the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award for outstanding contributions to humanity, I could not get away, and as always was there in spirit.
When I moved to Atlanta to be closer to one of my children, Marilyn called me to ask me if I would be interested in working with Healthcare Now. And I leaped at the chance. I was not computer literate and I was on Medicare only, and could see how it worked for me, and could cover everybody if we could get the profits out of the middle.
We worked closely together with the U.S. Social Forum and HealthcareNowGA was beginning to get underway.
Marilyn called me when she was diagnosed with Multiple Myoloma.
We talked often. I made plans to stay with her for the celebration at Judson Memorial this past June and had a wonderful time being with her. I could see the toll that the disease had on her. And her spirit remained strong.
I know she is with all of us, continuing to inspire us.
I continue to celebrate her strong spirit, her wonderful ability to laugh, to care and reach out to so many people. And I know we will see Healthcare-now through to being recognized as a human right for ALL.
I met Marilyn when I came to work for United Methodist Women in 2000. She was an amazing activist but she was also my good friend. I will miss her bright smile, her persistance, her generosity and her kindness. Because of her so many people are more engaged in issues of justice and because of her change has happened and will continue to happen. Her investment in the persons around her will have an impact far longer than her own body would allow her. May her memories fill us with the joy of friendship shared and inspiration for the hard work of justice…until everyone has healthCARE.
Marilyn’s life time of work for social justice will be remembered honored by our continuing to work on behalf of the justice that all people deserve all over the world.
Liz, that is exactly how I feel about this. Marilyn has worked very hard for bringing about social justice, especially healthcare justice. Her loss is great, but we will continue her work. We will win HR-676 for single payer.
I will continue my work, writing songs for healthcare justice.
I met Marilyn while helping to organize the PA single-payer movement, and spoke at her conference in NY around 2004. Since then, we’ve kept in touch during the fight for a just healthcare system. I’m terribly saddened to learn of her passing–she’s been such a force for change, and the Conyers effort would be little more than paper without the force of Marilyn’s organizing and conviction.
We’ll all miss her here in PA.
All we need is a one line law, “Effective immediately all citizens and resident aliens shall receive the same healthcare extended to members of the US Congress; pro bono.”
Then we pay for it by:
Immediately bringing all our military within our own borders.
Stopping all foreign aid.
Rescinding all “pork” spending resolutions.
Dissolving the Fed and establishing a national bank operated by government employees and without private participation.
Leaving the costs of education and welfare to be absorbed by the states.
Capping personal income from all sources at, say, 250,000. All income in excess of that amount would automatically revert to the government.
Immediately executing all convicted of murder, rape, child molest, narcotics sales, abortion, homosexual acts, etc.
Forcibly deporting every single person who is in this country illegally, and sealing our borders.
Reducing our defense budget by 80% by notifying the bad guys of the world that our future response to any of their nonsense will be nuclear. And then proving our point by turning Tehran and PyongYang
into parking lots.
Refraining from involvement in foreign disputes. Let crazy arabs kill crazy arabs. Not our business.
Dismiss and re-institute the Supreme Court; this time with sane judges.Enforce the Tenth Amendment. Unless the Constitution specifically gives a power to the Congress, that power is reserved to the states or to the people. Thus the end of the departments of education, health and welfare, etc.
Extend senatorial terms to ten years and representatives to five years and thus eliminate unnecessary costs of campaigning.
Restrict the franchise to males over 35 years, who hold degrees, own property, and have no criminal convictions. This will reduce the size of the vote for the democrat party to a total of 123.
Criminalize membership in or support of the ACLU, CFR, Tr1-laterals, NOW, and all other racist, anarchistic, evil cults and sects.
Expropriate the holdings of the Rothschilds and their confederates.
Appoint Lee Kwan Yew as dictator for life.
Then relax, and enjoy a safe and sane world!
Marilyn was dedicated and devoted to the cause:
She”s one of the reasons, that I got involved with single payer health
care, and then in turn, I got others like Nadina Crispina involved:
I first met Marilyn In Tallahassee, Florida when the Alliance for Retired Americans put together an event on Single Payer Health Caere in relation to their Buss trip they did.
She was an inspiration to us all.
I spoke to her on the phone several times one time in paticular was after she had come down with cancer. She was I believe in Va. at her daughters.
None of us can say enough, to continue the fight for Health Care is the right approach.
Tony Fransetta Pres. FLARA
I just heard…Marilyn did so much for all of us..her legacy will live on in all…she was a wonderful woman.
WE NEED A NATIONWIDE PROTEST TO WASHINGTON DC. WE ARE THE PARTY WITH THE MONEY AND I’M TIRED OF GROUPS NOT ORGANIZING AFTER MANY DONATIONS. I WAS IN NY AND IT WAS EMBARRASSING TO SEE LEST THAN 100 PEOPLE PROTESING, BUT I MARCHED WITH THEM ANYWAY!
WHY IS IT DIFFICULT TO GET EVERYONE ON BOARD A BUS??????