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by Maggie Thompson
At the age of 90 Maggie Thompson ran the bridge club at her senior center, taught English to Haitian immigrants at her church and began writing her memoir. Many nights she did not sleep. She had stories that she needed to get down. She wrote essays about farm life in Ohio during the Great Depression, being one of the first whites to join the NAACP in North Carolina in the early 1940s and her first date with her husband in Harlem where, though an interracial couple, no one gave them a second glance. For four decades she was the legal secretary to a leading constitutional rights lawyer and helped win landmark cases protecting our civil liberties. She fought for justice and equality not just in her political acts but also in her personal choices. She endured the alienation of her parents and the scrutiny of her government.
The arc of Maggie’s remarkable life has intersected all the major historical events of the Twentieth Century. From a spare but happy childhood in rural Ohio, loved by parents who with firm, good-natured guidance taught her the morality that formed the bedrock of her personality, she saw the ravages of the Depression, then engaged in the war effort and experienced tragic loss during World War II. She joined the struggle for Civil Rights, and worked to ensure the rise of labor unions and secure women’s rights. All her life she has engaged the world with feisty intelligence, sharp-witted humor and tenacious courage.