Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Friday, April 2, 2010

Marilyn Boydstun Clement

I was perusing through my McMurry University (Abilene, TX) alumni magazine when I ran across this name in the obituaries. The first line of the obit called her a "noted social activist" and she had graduated McM in 1956. In particular, what caught my eye was her working for the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization in New York. I became familiar with IFCO's work through my association with Pastors for Peace and Lucius Walker--all introduced to me by my friend Jane (aka Gigi in some circles).

That information led me to an Internet search. Ms. Clement, from Tulia, TX, was the daughter of share croppers, and originally intended to become a missionary following her completion at McM. Instead, she ended up in Atlanta, working with Dr. King in the civil rights movement. She moved to IFCO following Dr. King's assassination. After leaving IFCO, she was ED of the Center for Constitutional Rights and was involved with legal action against the Ku Klux Klan, among other issues.

She did a stint at the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in Philadelphia, and helped organize the Peace Train which ended in Bejing. I recalled the Women's Conference in Bejing in the mid to late 90s, and my friend Jane and I going to see part of a traveling exhibit on peace, and being videotaped about our work and how it related to the work of women through out the world. The organizers would end their exhibit in Bejing, where the video-tapes would be shown to women from around the world--connecting us women-to-women in our work and our desires for a peaceful and harmonious world.

She had also gone back to Tulia to assist in the work of bringing justice to the black community unfairly and viciously targeted by an overambitious prosecutor and his politically and racially motivated allies in the infamous Tulia Drug Sting.

Ms. Clement's most recent work had been in the arena of universal health care, and she had been active in trying to pass such legislation up until her death at the age of 74. She said she knew she would not see it, but that she believed it would come.

While I thought it odd that in all my years of work, I had never once heard her name, I found it inspiring to read about her accomplishments and her efforts to make life better for those who have been marginalized and cut off from opportunity. It was inspiring to read about her passion for her work--she said she could not have imagined a better life than being a community organizer. That is a love for people that transcends all the talking heads in the news today.

1 comment:

Gigi said...

Oh, I did not know that she had died. I met her once in Abilene--she came to McMurry for some sort of conference and Lucius told me she was coming. I think it was around the time of the first Gulf War. She was very kind and took the time to chat with everyone who wanted to speak to her. We stayed in touch for a brief while. I had no idea she was from Tulia--funny you did not cross paths when you were both involved there. Sad to hear she has left this Earth--we need more committed community organizers! I appreciate all that she stood for.