Distinguished Alumna Dinner Speech

Distinguished Alumna Dinner Speech

President Zinser, faculty, Alumni Board, past alumni awardees, alumni staff, and guests, thank you for this honor.

I want to introduce Marie Bagley, my partner (please stand as I say your name); my son, Tom Dalton; my sister Marilyn Fitzgerald; and my friend all the way from Detroit, Sue Blouch.

I’ve been reflecting on what makes a person or groups work for change and organize for change. I believe working for change is greater than change itself.

Learning about the dialectic of change while at the University of Detroit—as a returning student and mother of three struggling with the notion of two steps forward, one step back—helped formulate for me, the idea of Hope.

And there is always Hope. A chance to re-examine, to start anew, to get another chance. We all need another chance in life.

SOU provided me with another chance, a new beginning for me and for my family. A place to house ourselves. We are all students of life here.

I’d like to introduce all the agents in this room with whom I personally have journeyed for change. Please stand and say your name as we review together, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the year 2000 on.

The 70s, stand.

The 80s stand.

The 90s stand.

The 2000s and on, stand.

Thank you.

What’s changed, what have you helped change?

We put our young children in the first preschools for severely learning disabled; we loaded them on their first bus rides without their fearful parents; we entrusted them into “mainstream” school settings. They are still seen as “retards,” but they helped mainstream the word “retard,” so now everyone “gets” to be one through common name-calling.

We helped integrate our schools with affirmative action—until integration became a dirty word. Multiculturalism and diversity are coins now that capture the struggles we faced in our own homes when we confronted racism and homophobia in our parents, our families, our friends.

We faced our own oppression and had the courage to leave abuse, to help others flee domestic violence. We expanded our consciousness and faced our own sexually and emotionally abusive situations. We used and continue to use the word feminism as we witness our theory being integrated without a footnote into textbooks, trainings, everyday encounters.

We argued against sexist practices, worked to institute policies locally and nationally against sexual harassment, discrimination in our schools. We argued for nonsexist language, Title IX, the ERA. We’ve written empowerment into women’s studies texts. We confront our own bias as we seek global understanding of women’s lives.

Today, we feel the powerlessness of war upon us again. Vietnam taught us the process of aggression. We’re strategizing and awaiting the “aha” moment when our voices will be heard again as we face the deleterious effects of our present imperialism and the war-mongering mentality of our country.

We learned tons about money—and that we know nothing about money. We continue to be out of the loop in terms of real financial understanding of how money really works.

Today, we face new lessons of tolerance as we grope to understand new definitions of gender—a smashing finality of gender confinements that continue to oppress us.

Congratulations, you agents for change.

May 26, 2006

Back to Writings | Previous Piece | Next Piece


Latest Blog Posts

Look At You (Marie)

The crown of your head silver and white, I glimpsed as you lay next to me.  My mother had insisted I ‘do’ her hair,...

You’re Still Here (Lake Tahoe)

This is our third visit and Lake Tahoe, you are still here.  You glow like glass reflecting cobalt blue, aquamarine, vermillion seen like nowhere...

Now I See You (Molly)

So little, vulnerable, unable to grasp my thumb, no Babinski clutch.  Then we knew: you were injured.  Your brain impacted at birth, maybe.  Or...

Perfect For Summer

Our halter tops reveal breasts

peeking after a drawn out winter

A hundred degrees incites groans

in spite of the earlier drought of sunlight

You move past me,...

Please Don’t Eat the Babies

You swoop in again and again

trying to eat the babies

Who gives you the right

No excuses about the chain of life

Bigger birdies eating smaller birdies

They...

Freedom to Marry

If your mouths are dropping to the floor, don’t be surprised or feel you are alone. Many of us scoffed at the idea of...

Protest Against Mountaintop Removal Mining in West Virginia

Larry Gibson, founder of Keeper of the Mountains, participated in a protest against mountaintop removal mining by shaving the heads of women who wanted...

Honoring Hillary
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wants New Opposition Movement for Syria

In an effort to “reshape” the opposition action in Syria, Secretary of State Hillary...

Nuclear Nun

Eighty-two-year-old Sister Megan Rice has been a peace activist who has been arrested many times for her acts of civil disobedience and antinuclear protests....

Wilkins-O’Riley Zinn: A Remembrance
My friend died. She was my writing buddy. Three of us met in my living room. We always sat in the same spot, with...
Bill Clinton: Then and Now

It’s been tough listening to politicians since Bill Clinton left the presidency. He was a brilliant orator and still is. He had his shortcomings,...

Wendy Lee: A Matter of Survival
A professor of philosophy at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, Wendy Lee teaches environmental philosophy, feminist theory, bioethics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind/brain.
Women Working for Change
My mother was born in 1896 before most of what we know of the world was possible, except war and violence. These two constants...