Louise Franklin Ramirez -- an appreciation

by Ellen Thomas - et@nucnews.org
DC IndyMedia
2:13am Thu Aug 7 '03

On the passing of a beautiful strong powerful woman activist for peace and justice

Louise Franklin-Ramirez died on Hiroshima Day (August 6) at 3:20 p.m. after nearly a century of local and global activism.

That Louise died on Hiroshima Day is significant.  She was co-founder of the Metropolitan D.C. Area Gray Panthers' "Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee," which every year since 1981 has brought Hibakusha, or survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, to Washington, D.C.  She and her husband, John Steinbach, traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki several times to participate in the huge commemoration ceremonies sponsored by Japanese peace activists.  News of her passing will have a big impact across the Pacific Ocean.

Louise, who was born in 1907, joined Gray Panthers in the mid-1970's. She was active with Women Strike For Peace before that, and was a close friend of D.C. activist Josephine Butler, who helped create D.C. Home Rule, and with Louise and Arjun Makhijani founded the Gray Panthers' Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee in 1981.

For much of her life, Louise was a teacher (and a mother).  After the Supreme Court decision desegregating public schools, she went to Farmington, in Prince Edward County, Virginia, to tutor African American children who would otherwise receive no education when their public schools were closed down and private schools were opened for white kids only as Virginia fought Lyndon Johnson's desegregation policies.

The list of causes that Louise Franklin-Ramirez joyously embraced is a mile long.  Among them:  Toys for Peace demonstrations at Christmas time to protest war toys.  She was arrested in front of the Supreme Court for protesting the death penalty, and at Fort Benning, Georgia, for protesting the School of the Americas.  She supported Native Americans, especially the local Piscataway Indians, and the imprisoned Leonard Peltier.  She protested the death penalty, and supported Mumia Abu-Jamal, the journalist who is condemned to die, although there is question whether he committed any crime.

She was among the first to recognize that the anti-nuclear vigil outside the White House, 24 hours a day since 1981, was not (as commonly thought) peopled by lunatics, bums, crackpots, and communists, but by idealists who want to make the world a safer place.

This is anything but an official obituary or an unbiased news report. I've been one of the anti-nuclear vigilers outside the White House who remember Louise at 80, with a heap of red hair and an all-embracing smile and wit, when she took me under her wing and introduced me to the D.C. activist community.  When Louise spoke, it was impossible not to listen.  Some of her charisma came from years of teaching, but most of it was the love and intelligence that shone from her clear strong eyes.

Louise Franklin-Ramirez was 96 when she died.  She lived an incredibly full and fortunate life, and she shared her fortune profligately.  She will be missed and loved so long as people live who ever met her ... and hopefully beyond.  She was a pioneer, a woman who taught all women, all people, how to livem, love, and make a difference ... by example.

et in dc, 8/6/03 11:59 pm

Louise Franklin Ramirez...
a fighter to the very end. Here Louise protests the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at a demonstration across the street from the Washington Hilton two years ago.

photo by shia (c)2003 all rights reserved 2:23am Thu Aug 7 '03