Maggie Kuhn formed the Gray Panthers in response to her forced retirement from the Presbyterian Church at the age of 65 in 1970. I first learned about The Gray Panthers and Maggie Kuhn when I was in a masters social work school program and specializing in community organization. I became inspired by this feisty old woman: her advocacy for people in nursing homes; her alliance with other disenfranchised groups plas that at age 65 Maggie helped change the world. I wanted to be Maggie Kuhn when I grew up.
I also thought she was beautiful and I promised myself when I was “old” and grey, I would let my hair grow out and wear it up in a bun. In my fifties, I did just that. All of a sudden women on the street started telling me how beautiful my hair was. To this day, I engage in many conversations both about Maggie Kuhn and internalized ageism. Until I retired, her picture was displayed in my office. Wearing my hair in a bun and reading glasses caused so many people to ask if she were my mother.
What inspires me now about Maggie Kuhn is that it never to late to make a difference in the world through advocacy and building alliances. Certainly, we need this right now!
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