Tag Archives: Salem

Happy Birthday, Beatrice Arthur

13 May

BeaArthur2-smBea Arthur, born Bernice Frankel in New York City on this date in 1922, would become an American icon from the 1960’s through the 21st Century.  She would have been 91 today.

My first introduction to Arthur was in the early 1970’s when she was starring as Maude, the loud mouthed, opinionated, liberal taking on topics like race, gender, power, sexual orientation, and even abortion.  I loved this show.  Who knew I would grow up to become Maude.  Maude was a true pioneer in addressing equity and the disparities in how we treat other people.  I loved her voice of social justice, even when she would get it wrong.

When we first moved to Oregon, I was horribly depressed and hated living in Salem.  My first job here, I was accosted by a Mormon woman who came into my office and said with great sincerity: “Michael, I just want you to know I pray for your sin.”  I would like to say I handled this with grace and dignity, but I didn’t.  My reply was: “Tammy, I pray that you will stop wearing brown double knit polyester everyday.” Not a shining moment for as a social worker.

The only highlight in moving to Salem was that my husband bought us tickets to see Bea Arthur live at the Elsinore in Salem.  She made me forget my miseries, my woes, and my temporary misanthropy.  She was authentic, kind, generous, and had a mouth like a sailor — I know I had to clutch my pearls many a time during her show.

Arthur had the power to transform us all and make us laugh at our selves, laugh at the world, but yet charged us each with the obligation to make the world a better place for all marginalized and targeted people after we left the theatre. As a true feminist/social worker should, she acknowledged that everything is political: “”I’ve been a Democrat my whole life. That’s what makes Maude and Dorothy so believable, we have the same viewpoints on how our country should be handled.”  Seeing her live is one of my top 10 memories, for which I will be forever grateful.

She channelled her phenomenol energy into so many worthy causes. She was an animal rights activist and an active advocate for civil rights for the elderly and the LGBT community. Three days after her death, all the marquees on Broadway were dimmed at 8pm. What a fitting tribute to a woman whose passing left the world a little less bright.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 14

14 Mar

Honoring Christine Chavez-Delgado

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Christine Chavez-Delgado. Yes, Christine is the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez the famous civil rights leader and founder of the United Farm Workers. Christine is currently the Political Rights Director of United Farm Workers. Her passion and dedication for civil rights encompasses worker’s rights, the disenfranchised, and  marriage equality. Christine was a vocal opponent against Prop 8 and toured the country giving speeches on why it was important to support full marriage equality. Robert and I were fortunate enough to hear Christine speak in Salem, Oregon about her memories as a child having conversations about working for better treatment of the LGBT community. I had no idea Cesar Chavez was also a supporter of LGBT rights–a courageous and bold move for a Latino of his generation. Christine was such an eloquent speaker–I’m afraid I embarrassed myself and ran over to get her autograph.  She gave me a hug and said: “I hope you and your husband will be legally recognized soon.” I find it heart warming to see another Chavez working for social justice and focusing on the rights of the marginalized and disenfranchised. Brava, to Christine Chavez-Delgado.

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