Posts Tagged ‘#hobokenmuseum’

Remembering Millicent Fenwick on her Birthday

February 25, 2021

During this past year consumed by the pandemic and the tumultuous election, aftermath, and insurrection, I’ve been thinking a lot about Millicent Fenwick who would have turned 111 today, February 25. I think in this period when politics has become so partisan, Millicent Fenwick would have been a voice of reason and led by example. What has been surprising, and rewarding, is that her memory is alive and well nearly 30 years after her death in 1992. 

How do I know this? Because over the past year I have received snail mail and emails from readers who have discovered Millicent Fenwick: Her Way. As an author, there is no greater gift than hearing from readers, especially about a book that was published 18 years ago this month. Millicent Fenwick’s biography has far outlived the typical shelf life of most books. The one regret I have is that there never was a paperback edition. I just went on to amazon and the cost of the book has skyrocketed which I guess indicates demand. 

How do I know this? Because over the past year I have received snail mail and emails from readers who have discovered Millicent Fenwick: Her Way. As an author, there is no greater gift than hearing from readers, especially about a book that was published 18 years ago this month. Millicent Fenwick’s biography has far outlived the typical shelf life of most books. The one regret I have is that there never was a paperback edition. I just went on to amazon and the cost of the book has skyrocketed which I guess indicates demand. During this past year consumed by the pandemic and the tumultuous election, aftermath, and insurrection, I’ve been thinking a lot about Millicent Fenwick who would have turned 111 today, February 25. I think in this period when politics has become so partisan, Millicent Fenwick would have been a voice of reason and led by example. What has been surprising, and rewarding, is that her memory is alive and well nearly 30 years after her death in 1992. 

Another indicator of demand was book events which have continued over the years with the most recent being in October when the Hoboken Historical Museum included Millicent Fenwick in their “NJ Women Make History!” series. 

Earlier today, Stephen Grant, a fellow biographer, sent me a FaceBook post from Joseph Esposito remembering Millicent Fenwick. What was clear from his post, and the comments, is how much Millicent Fenwick still resonates with those who knew her and those who did not. She was a principled, outspoken, dedicated and passionate public servant who in her day was dubbed the “Conscience of Congress” by Walter Cronkite. When John Lewis died, the same was said of him. I think they both are in good company. 

Not only does her memory continue to live on, but so do her legislative achievements, most notably the establishment of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Public Law 94-304 of June 3, 1976, signed by President Gerald Ford which promoted the monitoring of human rights in accordance with the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 signed by 35 nations including the United States and the Soviet Union. Bill Canis, one of Fenwick’s former staffers sent me this link to an article published this past year commemorating Fenwick’s role in establishing the commission: https://www.csce.gov/international-impact/representative-millicent-fenwick

Another discovery I made this year is a Millicent Fenwick high school curriculum from the New Jersey Historical Commission as part of their “It Happened Here New Jersey” series. At a time when many are looking for civility and reason, I am glad to know that the next generation is learning about role models such as Millicent Fenwick. educators are leveraging the many lessons gleaned from Fenwick’s life. As former Governor Christine Todd Whitman said, “Millicent Fenwick was really ‘My Way.’ And she did it with class and style …She showed that a single mother could make it, that you could be independent and balance things, and that women could be very credible policy advocates.”

At Millicent Fenwick’s funeral her grandson, Jonathan Reckford, now CEO of Habitat for Humanity, delivered the eulogy. He said the following, “She brought elegance to the most mundane matters and showed that indeed one can fight for change without breaching decorum.” 

Doonesbury Turns 50

Thanks to everyone who emailed me this past week to let me know about the Washington Post article celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doonesbury. The article featured Garry Trudeau’s top ten most defining comic strips over the the last half century. And wouldn’t you know it, there was a Lacey Davenport comic strip included among the list. It was from 1985 and entitled “Palm Beach Card Controversy” which led to a legislative change in Florida. You can read more about it below.

Lacey Davenport featured in Garry Trudeau’s Top Ten Defining Doonesbury Comic Strips

Palm Beach, Fla., ordinance requires low-wage service employees to register with police and carry ID cards.

Trudeau: The legendary Mary McGrory told me that in all her years of writing columns, she wasn’t sure a single one of them had changed anything. That’s not a bar that cartoonists generally set for themselves, but in the case of my story arc about racist Palm Beach pass cards, the strip did have an impact. Exposure of the apartheid-like ordinance proved so embarrassing to Florida that the state legislature passed a law banning it. It was called the “Doonesbury Bill,” and the governor sent me the signing pen. Still, that’s the exception. Most of the time, expecting satire to make a difference is purely aspirational.

For the full article visit:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2020/11/27/doonesbury-garry-trudeau-anniversary/

And, for those of you who are interested in watching the Millicent Fenwick talk held at the Hoboken Historical Museum on October 18, 2020, here is the YouTube link:

Save the Date – NJ Women Make History – October 18, 2020

The Hoboken Museum is hosting the New Jersey Women Make History Lecture Series this fall featuring New Jersey women who have left their mark on history.

On Sunday, October 18, at 4 PM, I’ll be speaking about Millicent Fenwick’s incredible life and the impact her legislation still has today nearly half a century later. This event will be held in person at the Hoboken Museum and live-streamed. Hope to see you there.

Hoboken Museum / 1301 Hudson Street / Hoboken, NJ

For more information, please visit: http://www.hobokenmuseum.org