Following is the formal presentation I prepared for my court hearing on January 14, 2021. It follows, exactly as I spoke it. We have many methods of self-introduction and this is one of mine:
Judge Kelly: During the early 80’s, I applied for work in a large company as an industrial engineer. After an extensive interview process, the hiring manager told me that although I was the best candidate for the job, he could not hire a woman. He presented it as if he were doing me a favor by being honest. I was polite, then left his office.
At that time, what he did was legal, so I had no recourse for an action that seemed to me to be absolutely unfair. I got another job, then worked for women’s rights. After a successful career in the corporate world, I earned a Master’s Degree from Harvard, where I was surprised with the Derek Bok Public Service Prize, in recognition of the extensive work I had performed to benefit women and girls.
Later, I became a special ed teacher and taught for 11 years before retiring. I loved those years! When I was younger, I would not have had the patience — or the kindness, to be a good teacher. I am different in many ways than when I was younger, but one thing has not changed — my desire to improve the world and to make it a more fair place.
My focus has shifted over time from women’s rights to include broader social justice issues. When I began to get involved in climate justice, I thought of it as just that — climate and the changes so important for life to continue as we know it on this planet. Then, I recognized that climate IS a social justice issue! Why?
As our climate degrades, the people immediately affected are those who are least in a position to change their circumstances. When there are storms or fires, they have no second homes, nowhere to go. When they live near a chemical plant or a coal-powered plant, they don’t have the resources to relocate. If they develop asthma, the personal consequences are severe and unavoidable.
The purpose of this allocution is to let you know a little about me. Simply, I am a Quaker and I am a nonviolent activist.
Judge Kelly, I request an unconditional discharge.
Postscript: Last spring, during the two breaths when it looked like the Covid situation was improving, I planned a trip to Egypt to celebrate my 75th birthday. Since then, our trip has been canceled and I await inspiration for what celebration will feel both safe and special enough to honor this milestone birthday. Suggestions, anyone?
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