With Words, She Made a Difference

This week’s woman of peace is author Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880). One of the most influential American women writers from the 1820s through the 1860s she was a prolific author, a literary pioneer, and a tireless crusader and champion for America’s excluded groups. With words, she made a difference.  Early Life Born on February 11, 1802 in Medford, Massachusetts, she was the youngest of six children. Her father, Convers Francis, was stern and religiously orthodox. Susannah (Rand) Francis, her mother, was ill and distant. Her mother died when Lydia was twelve.  After her mother’s death, they sent Lydia to live with a married sister in Maine. Norridgewock, a frontier society, exposed Lydia to a small community of impoverished Abenaki and Penobscot Indians.  Lydia moved back to Massachusetts at nineteen. She lived with her brother Convers, a scholarly Unitarian minister. Her brother guided her education in literary masters such as Homer and Milton. She reportedly hated the name Lydia. So when she converted to Unitarism and was re-baptised, she gave herself the name of Maria. She chose to go by Maria  (Ma-RYE-a) from then on. Early Career Lydia read an article in the North American Review discussing the field offered to the novelist by early New England history. That […]

Nonviolent, She Made a Difference

Dorothy Cotton (January 5, 1930–June 10, 2018) was born at the beginning of the depression. No one could have predicted the woman she became. Nonviolent, she made a difference in the U.S. civil rights movement and in the world. Early Life Dorothy Lee Forman knew at an early age that she didn’t belong. She was an alien in time and place, destined to leave her hometown of Goldsboro, North Carolina. She speaks of the fighting and horrible things that happened in her neighborhood. But is unable to articulate exactly why she felt alien. Her mother died when she was three years old.  Her father did the best he could to raise his three girls, but she remembers him as a harsh disciplinarian. She also remembers a pivotal event in her childhood. She was about ten years old when a white boy rode his bicycle down her unpaved street, kicking up dust and singing (to the tune of Deep in the Heart of Texas) “deep down in the heart of niggertown.” It made her angry, an anger she felt long into adulthood. She says it gave her “a consciousness about the wrongness of the system.” A Mentor Her next pivotal encounter was […]