The Spirit of an Activists Never Dies

Getting old is definitely not for sissies. I sit down for breakfast and I hear snap, crackle and pop. That would be fine if I was eating a bowl of cereal but I’m not. To deal with arthritis pain I eat Aleve as if they were M&M’s. The thing I hate more than physical pain is the emotional pain I get from time to time. I have it worst on those days when I feel fatalistic. I feel that way when I open the newspaper and see obituaries of people who aren’t as old as I am. I worry that I am not going to be around to see that better world I want for my kids.

What really saddens me is when I see obituaries of activists I know who were working hard to make that better world. I feel an emotional loss I can’t begin to express when these activist who were filled with a passion to right the world’s wrongs pass on. I have a hard time going to calling hours or attending funerals for these people. That is because how do you even begin to thank these activists families for their deceased loved one who fought for social justice and put other people’s needs before their own? These are irreplaceable people and they are rare and to be cherished. People like me who wish they were more of an activist look up to these activist as people to emulate. We of course all fall short as while we have their passion we lack their drive and stamina. We are afraid to fail and that causes too many of us to be spectators in life. These true activists believe their failure in life would be to not get back up once they have been knock down. We of course should have told them that they enlightened us by their examples while they were alive. I met a remarkable local woman activist a number of years back named, Martha Katz. She was the type of person who kindled the passion of fire in other activist for many different causes. So many different causes that it almost seems impossible for one person to have covered in a lifetime.

You can see what I mean about her devotion to so many causes, if you go to and search for the obituary tribute of Martha Hodges Katz (I’m sorry I was for some reason not able to link it on this blog).

I feel lucky to have stood on some picket lines over the years with Martha and her friend and life-mate Ray Nakley. Activist like Martha are now in a perfect place called Heaven. They are now rewarded with the peace, justice and tranquility they were seeking to create for all on Earth. I know that activist like Martha, and my late friends, Bob, Marty, Greg, John and Michael are now partying with Gandhi, MLK, Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, Susan B. Anthony, Joe Hill and Abbie Hoffman. It would not surprise me if they couldn’t be happy in Heaven because there were souls suffering in Hell. I can see these angelic activists putting on comfortable shoes, painting some signs and booking a bus to go on a field trip protest to give the Devil a piece of their mind. I imagine such activists cannot be at peace until everyone is at peace. That is why we feel their spirit every time we walk a picket line or fight to right a wrong. Tonight, I will raise a glass of Jameson to Martha and all the activist who have come and gone. I thank you and my children thank you for all you’ve done and how your spirit continues to inspire us. Their spirits keep on keeping us, even after they’ve reached that higher ground.

Jesse Colin Young: “Peace Song”

“Get Together”

“Great mentorship is priceless.” ~ Lailah Gifty Akita



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4 responses to “The Spirit of an Activists Never Dies

  1. Nancie Shillington

    Amen, bro—I appreciate what you are saying and have some of those same memoires—I have one friend, now 95ish, with whom I can still communicate thanks to this machine—we were spat upon and hated in our beloved Church—and all these years later we are firey “liberals” (Rads) who now and then encounter youth like you who picked up the torch when the pills no longer kept our joints moving!


  2. Ray Nakley

    Jim, thank you for your kind remembrance of our Martha. We also lost Ken Garver in April; fellow activist, WWII CO, and fellow vigiler. You may recall meeting Kenny at a vigil in Hubbard a couple of years ago. He was just a few days shy of 96.

  3. elecpencil

    Thanks Nancy and I wish I was a youth. Thanks for being a role model.

  4. elecpencil

    Thank you Ray and it’s hard to lose the Marthas and Kens of the world with so much left to do. I remember Ken and he and a few other vets that joined the anti-war vigils gave us validity.

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