The namesake of the high school where 17 people were killed was a remarkable progressive activist—much like the students now demanding real gun control.
[Marjory Stoneman] Douglas was a journalist, writer, feminist, environmentalist, and progressive activist, best known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development.
(Source article: Peter Dreier, journalist for the American Prospect—"Who Was Marjory Douglas?")
You've likely heard of the horrific shooting on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed and more wounded. In the wake of this tragedy, many students—survivors of the shooting, as well as other students from all across the nation—have taken a stand through activism, rallying and marching for gun control, from the nationwide student walkout to the March For our Lives.
The courage and resolve of these students (many of them my age or younger!) is something that I find incredibly inspirational. What I did not become aware of until relatively recently, however, is that this spirit of activism is very much true to the legacy of the woman for whom Douglas High School is named. In a case of sad serendipity, this year NMG's March/April 2018 Calendar (which, if you subscribe to or read NMG magazine, you may have already seen; if not, scroll down to the bottom of this post!) includes, on April 7, the birthday of Douglas, the "Eco-activist" who "saved Florida's Everglades"—and the namesake of the high school.
Born in 1890, Marjory Douglas became a part of the women's suffrage movement when she was in college. She was a journalist, and only a few years after her graduation, during World War I, she joined the American Red Cross in Europe, where she wrote a number of articles and, after the war, stayed to help care for war refugees. When she returned to her home in Miami, she quickly became involved once again with the movement for women's rights, campaigning for suffrage and equality. Nor did her activism stop with women's rights; she protested and wrote about topics covering issues ranging through "civil rights, better sanitation, women's suffrage, and responsible urban planning"—among others.
If you're wondering about the reference to the Everglades in the calendar, I was too until I read further. A critical advocate for the environment, finding the safety of the Everglades seriously threatened, Douglas founded the conservational organization Friends of the Everglades, when she was already 79, and the tireless "Grande Dame of the Everglades" continued her efforts on behalf of the Everglades throughout the rest of her life.
And that life was of an impressive length, because Marjory Stoneman Douglas lived to the ripe old age of 108!
Marjory Douglas was an incredible and inspiring woman, who stood up for and spoke out for what she believed in and wasn't afraid to tackle the big issues. While my few paragraphs don't come close to doing her justice, you can read more about this incredible woman here—and I encourage you to do so (and/or to research her elsewhere as well!), especially if, like me, this is the first you've heard of this amazing activist. (And if you did know about her already, reading more can never hurt! :))
"Be a nuisance where it counts," she said. "Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics—but never give up."
If there's one thing the Douglas High School students seem to be doing, it's being a nuisance where it counts. On April 7, Marjory Douglas would have been 128 years old. Gun control may not be on the list of primary issues she fought for in her lifetime of activism, but there's little doubt that she would be proud of the actions and voices of the survivors of the tragedy at the high school named in her honor. Marjory Stoneman Douglas lived a life dedicated to fighting for what she believed was right and important, and in this, her legacy lives on.
March/April 2018 NMG Calendar