I spent this morning, my early hours, indulging in a guilty pleasure I can write publicly about: working on the memoirs of Sophia Mumford, widow of Lewis Mumford. Sophie was 68 years older than I but we became good friends in her 90s. I went through my electronic files, converting some of the tape transcripts we’d made in 1996 and 1997 (some 36 hours in total) to a 21st century version of Microsoft Word, checking the various notes and misc items I collected, and thinking about how I might find a small piece of this project that would be suitable as an article. The war protests last night (there were vigils all over the United States, and probably the world, in support of Cindy Sheehan and the anti-war demonstration near President Bush’s ranch in Texas) have given me an idea. Mumford was the first major figure to publicly and vehemently denounce President Johnson’s policies. He did it with perfect timing. He had just received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Johnson, and was president of the American Academy of Arts & Letters. What a firestorm he unleased. It’s one of my favorite Mumford stories, because after the speech he went home to bed with ‘flu and left Sophie to face the music. Sophie herself was involved in virtually every major social movement of the 20th century, starting with handing out women’s suffrage leaflets on the steps of Brooklyn Town Hall.
War protests and Lewis and Sophia Mumford
About the Author: Karen Christensen
Karen Christensen is the CEO of Berkshire Publishing.