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Patricia Maginnis, RIP


I often think about W.E.B. DuBois’ lifespan. Born in 1868, he grew up in the possibilities of Reconstruction and Black equality (even as a northerner, it’s not as if Black equality was achieved in the Massachusetts of his youth). That quickly turned sour. DuBois fought his whole life for Black equality during the worst post-Civil War decades. Finally, he simply gave up on America and its ideals entirely, became a communist, and moved to Ghana, where he died just a few days before the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. His entire life was one long fight and he didn’t live to see any real victory.

The life of Patricia Maginnis was somewhat different than DuBois. She was the original fighter for abortion, even to the point to teaching women how to perform abortions on themselves. She lived to see that 1973 victory and then turned her organizing attention to other causes, especially gay rights and animal rights. She has now died, just a couple of days before the Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe.

Maginnis was a remarkable and little known woman. As we consider what to do about our current situation, her radicalism is something we may want to keep in mind and take some lessons from.

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