Louisville Magazine

JAN 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/1066550

Contents of this Issue


Page 53 of 92

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 1.19 51 than me. If you do the kind of work I've done and really believe in it, one of the things you need to do is pull the younger ones along after you so that when you die, it doesn't die. You have to be inten- tional about it because not very many people care about these issues. Because they're not sexy. ey're hard. ey're not popular. You can get in trouble if you're too upfront, out there, and so a lot of people who have good basic instincts don't have enough burning to keep them going in spite of the social opposition. When you go against the public, when you go against something as silly as mov- ing into a new neighborhood where there are no blacks and you're black, they're not gonna bake cakes for you. So when you're doing that kind of work it's absolutely urgent that you have allies. ose of us who've done this kind of work have all had our lives threatened one way or another and it sort of goes with the territory. After a while, you accept it. And if it doesn't frighten you off in the first couple of years, you're OK. But the first couple of times it happens it's very scary, especially if you're trying to lead a normal life with a husband, wife and kids." When have you been wrong about something? "I'm never wrong. Never in my life have I ever been wrong. I've usually been wrong on the wrong side. For example, I never thought we'd have Donald Trump as pres- ident of the United States. I mean, that can't — I thought, People will see through that bullshit. Well, people didn't. ey liked that bullshit and I'm still stunned, to tell you the truth. Are we that stupid? 'Cause I know we're not bad people, collectively. I mean, each of us has a little problem, but you have to have massive problems to have elected a man who is so bad. I don't see any socially redeeming value in him whatsoever. His attitude about women is terrible. His attitude about poor people is they're not workin' hard enough. It's just all bad, bad, bad." You're on Facebook. Do you get on there very often? "I never get on there. Most of that is my kids — my granddaughters! I have two darling granddaughters. One of them is Asian; her mother's Chinese. One's a nurse in Seattle and the other one just got married. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. And those girls go on there. I think Facebook is the biggest fuckin' waste of time. I never say the F-word. But it certainly does makes some people's lives richer, I guess, so that's good. I oughta look and see what they're saying about me now." I saw that a daughter or granddaughter of yours said they were reading your Wikipedia page and wondered if you had sheltered men who were protest- ing the Vietnam War and avoiding the draft. "Yeah, that was true. Well, (Ed and I) lived in a house over by Atherton that had a finished basement and an extra bedroom downstairs that we put there when we bought the house new, so that we could get a schoolgirl to babysit. In those days you could provide room and board to any business-school girl that came in from out in the state or Indiana to go to Bryant and Stratton (which later merged with what's now Sullivan University) or one of the business colleges. You gave them room and board in exchange for them babysit- ting. We — all of us, the Jewish girls — discovered that years ago and we all had our own little basement slaves and it was a good deal for the family and it was a good deal for the girls. So after they left I had a — he was a soldier who was supposed to go to Vietnam and he hid in my basement for like two days. I really hated that war. "You know, in a way, your generation I feel sorry for because, as bad as that war was, it fleshed out people like me, thou- sands of us who wouldn't have taken any public action or even involved ourselves in politics or the public issues except because of that war, which was so horrible and was killing so many young people." You don't think young people have enough issues to generate activism? Climate change, shootings. People seem to be fired up. "I hope so, 'cause we sure need ya. at's another thing I've done. I've mentored some young high school girls and young college girls on occasion who want to do social-justice work, and I love that. It's just so good for my ego. I'm just so smart. (We talk) about what they're gonna experience and just tips, so that they have somebody who knows when they run into trouble, because they will. It's hard. It's really hard." Do you learn anything from them? "Oh, yeah! Sex, honey! (Laughs.) Yeah, I learn a lot of things from them. What they're reading, what they think of this or that position. Who's hot, who's not, what TV programs, if any, are any good. We should never do what too many of us do, which is close ourselves off age-wise, race-wise or religion-wise. It's stupid. It's boring, too. 'Cause we've all got things we can learn from each other. And I steal. You know, I'm genuinely happy to steal ideas from other people. It makes me look really smart." When you were leading the national ACLU board, you worked with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who went on to become a U.S. Supreme Court justice. What was she like? "When I went up there (to the national ACLU board in New York), they had about a half a woman for every 10 men members. We were very underrepresent- ed and in order to do something about that, to change that, my big contribu- tion — and it was big and I don't have any false modesty about that because it was a very, very imposing and scarifying board. I mean, they're all super this, super that. And I was young enough and dumb enough to believe that I could make a difference in the composition in the national board. I was a troublemak- er. So I organized a women's caucus and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when she came on the board after me, was a member of the women's caucus and began to help us lobby for what we wanted to pass to get the participation of women enacted in a concrete way, so that we'd have some im- pact. She was a lot of fun, though. She was a wonderful, down-to-earth woman. She came to all our meetings. "I must say I am in awe of what I did up there strictly on nerve because I'm a little — I'm not diminishing myself — I was a little housewife from Louisville, Kentucky. I was an English major. I didn't have great…experience on an intellectual level. I was just really pissed because of what these guys were trying and had been able to do, so I went on a lot of nervous energy and anger that we activist women weren't getting what we needed to have an effective presence." Continued on page 86

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Louisville Magazine - JAN 2019