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'We've Come Too Far To Go Back' Say Elderly Activists Protesting Trump Administration

A group of women at Seacrest Village retirement home hold up a sign that reads "Let's be an example for the world," during the Women's March, January 21, 2017.
Connie Kelley
A group of women at Seacrest Village retirement home hold up a sign that reads "Let's be an example for the world," during the Women's March, January 21, 2017.
‘We’ve Come Too Far To Go Back’ Say Elderly Activists Protesting Trump Administration
A group of 50 women in their 80s, 90s and 100s marched last month with walkers and canes through their Seacrest Village retirement home in Encinitas in solidarity with the nationwide Women’s Marches. Now, the seniors have put down their handmade signs and picked up pens and paper.

Last month a group of elderly women marched in solidarity with a group of women's marches. The picked up pens and paper and Susan Murphy tells us that there determined to protect the rights they feel are threatened under the Trump administration. My name is Jean and I certainly believe that the world has changed. They are hard of hearing and depend on canes and walkers but dozens of women with neatly styled over here and there 80s, 90s, and one hundreds are determined to be heard. He cannot leave it up to somebody else. If something is a part you have to do it. Some of the things that are happening are very difficult for us to swallow. I get happy when I think about it. They are activists working to protect human rights and values. If we don't fight for our granddaughters and daughters and granddaughters who is going to do it. The 50 women last month laced up their shoes and marched through the halls of the Seacrest retirement village. It was inspiring. There was such a spirit here. Their signs read our rights are not up for grabs and let's be an example for the world. I have seen a lot of marches in my lifetime but this is one of the most significant marches that I can remember. It is so significant that a picture of the women marching went viral on Twitter and has been retweeted tens of thousands of times. This has caused quite a stir. They are taking part in the national post-March actions in 10 days. I have always expressed myself with paper and pen. I have are -- I do not tweet or two or anything else. We have to take care of these refugees There is concern about Medicare Social Security and Medi-Cal. D Denny and Bertha say that there inspiration comes from a lifetime of witnessing historic protests and movements from civil rights and antiwar to abortion and labor right. Barbara Appleby said she has done a lot of marching through the decades. In college I was for solidarity. I came home and I thought my father was going to throw me out of the house. Appleby spent 30 years in New York speaking -- teaching English to immigrants. At times arrest many as two dozen countries represented in her class. I can always tell which country was in trouble because those people ended up in my class. To stop immigration for whatever reason that he has is just an American. 86-year-old D Rudolph cannot stop thinking about the uncertain future of Syrian refugees. He says the crisis echoes the Holocaust.'s There is no place for them to go in this world. My God it just brought it all back. Many of them recounted growing up in the depression. Eve says severe positive -- poverty instilled in her the need to support one another. You understand what it means when you are at the bottom of the heap and you need a hand. You need somebody to help you get up. The women say they have seen the country come too far and it will not allow it to take a step back. We thought too hard and too much. Not everyone at the retirement home opposes the new administration.'s This is a democracy. Sommer for and summer against. Their voices are just as strong as ours. Out of respect for conservative residence the women have agreed no politics at the dinner table. Susan Murphy KPBS news. This story as part of KPBS is ongoing coverage of supporters and opponents of the new administration.

A group of 50 women in their 80s, 90s and 100s marched in January with walkers and canes through their Seacrest Village retirement home in Encinitas in solidarity with the nationwide Women’s Marches. Now, they’ve put down their handmade signs and picked up pens and paper — determined to protect the rights they feel are threatened under the Trump Administration.

“You can’t leave it up to someone else,” said Bertha Fox, 91, who raised four sons in Los Angeles and dedicated much of her life to volunteering. “If something is important, you have to do it.”

'We've Come Too Far To Go Back' Say Elderly Activists Protesting Trump Administration

Fox and the other senior marchers joined together recently for a letter-writing campaign to their local lawmakers to raise their concerns about changes coming from the White House.

“Some of the things that are happening are very difficult for us to swallow,” chimed in Alice Morawetz, 88, one of the group's organizers.

“I get sick when I think about it,” added Barbara Appleby, 86, who spent 30 years in New York teaching English to immigrants.

Many of the women, sporting neatly styled silver hair, are grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They’re also activists working to protect human rights and their values.

“If we don’t fight for our daughters, our granddaughters and our great-granddaughters, who’s going to do it?” said Dee Rudolph, who raised four children in Montana while working for the Democratic Party.

Women march down the halls at Seacrest Village retirement community in Encinitas, in solidarity with the national women's marches, January 21, 2017.
Connie Kelley
Women march down the halls at Seacrest Village retirement community in Encinitas, in solidarity with the national women's marches, January 21, 2017.

Slightly hard of hearing with soft, shaky voices, the strong-willed women laced up their tennis shoes in January and marched through the halls of their retirement home.

“It was one of the most inspiring things that I’ve ever done in my long life,” said Eve Rosenberg, 102, an avid reader who spent her career in the New York City Public Library on 5th Avenue.

"There was such a spirit here,” Rudolph added. “Everyone wanted to be involved.”

Their signs read: “Our rights are not up for grabs," "Make America think again" and “Let’s be an example for the world.”

“I’ve seen a lot of marches in my lifetime,” Rosenberg said. “But this is one of the most significant marches that I can remember.”

A picture of a sign posted in their retirement home to organize a march went viral on Twitter. It was retweeted thousands of times.

“This has caused quite a stir,” said Morawetz, smiling proudly, noting that the group had to keep their voices down for the sake of the other residents.

The women are taking part in the national post-march initiative of “10 Actions in 100 Days,” arming themselves with pens and postcards and writing to their elected representatives.

“I have always expressed myself with paper and pen,” said Agnes Herman, 95, who wrote for the Los Angeles Times and had a column in the North County Times.

Writing a letter is much more effective than Twitter, added Rosenberg.

“I don’t tweet, toot or anything else,” Rosenberg laughed.

They hope by expressing their concerns over President Trump’s executive orders and plans, their voices will be heard.

Women at Seacrest Village, and some of their helpers, gather for a  letter-writing campaign to their local lawmakers to raise their concerns about changes coming from the White House, Feb. 7, 2017.
Nicholas McVicker
Women at Seacrest Village, and some of their helpers, gather for a letter-writing campaign to their local lawmakers to raise their concerns about changes coming from the White House, Feb. 7, 2017.

“What I’ll write on the next one is that we have to take care of the refugees,” Rudolph announced to the women sitting at tables in the community room, holding up her stack of postcards.

Denny Cope read her letter aloud: “Dear Congressman Issa, I’m from Encinitas, California and I’m concerned about Medicare, Social Security and Medical.”

Jean Detsky followed: “My name is Jean Detsky and I certainly believe that the world has changed.”

“I’m going to write that we have to protect our rights,” added Fox. “That our democracy is very dear.”

They have witnessed a lifetime of historic protests and movements, from Civil Rights and anti-war to abortion and labor rights.

Some of the women, including Appleby, have done a lot of marching through the decades.

“In college I was for solidarity and I came home and I thought my father was going to throw me out of the house,” said Appleby, who also marched for union rights in the 60s, and Roe v. Wade in the 70s.

Now, disheartened over president Trump’s stance on immigration, Appleby has renewed her activism.

“To stop immigration for whatever reason he has is just un-American,” said Appleby, whose English class back when she was teaching represented as many as 20 countries at a time.

“I could always tell which country was in trouble because those people ended up in my class,” Appleby said. "I just feel that my classes helped everybody to assimilate and to become American."

Immigration is also on the mind of Rudolph, who said she can’t stop thinking about the uncertain future of Syrian refugees. The crisis echoes the Holocaust, she said.

“There’s no place for them to go in this world,” Rudolph said. “My God, it just brought it all back.”

Many of the women recounted growing up during the Great Depression, including Eve Rosenberg. She said severe poverty instilled in her the need to support one another.

“You understand what it means when you are at the bottom of the heap and you need a hand, somebody to help you get up,” Rosenberg said.

The women agreed they’ve seen the country come too far, and they won’t allow it to take a step back.

“We fought too hard and too much,” Appleby said.

Not everyone at the retirement home opposes the new administration. Out of respect for conservative residents the women have agreed: no politics at the dinner table.