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Susan O'Halloran

4 min read

Mar 17




Do you know who Grace Lee Boggs was? What about Peggy Alexander?

Read to the end of this blog post to see if you guessed correctly and learn about two women who dedicated their lives – one very short and one very long – to making a positive difference.

Maybe, like me, you didn’t learn about incredible women in your history or social studies classes. But it’s never too late to learn.


The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power is an inspiring and insightful book weaving Ms. Power’s personal and professional journeys. From coming to the United States as an Irish immigrant to being a war correspondent in Bosnia to eventually serving as the United Nations Ambassador from 2013 to 2016, Power’s story provides a unique perspective on global affairs. You may not agree with all the stances Power has taken over the years but I think it impossible not to be impressed by her and her staffs’ dedication, creativity, and hard work. Power demonstrates the impact an individual and government can have on improving the lives of everyday people in this country and around the world. It’s easy to make fun of politicians and other government types. There’s enough good reason to disparage many of them, but if we don’t celebrate those government officials who actually serve, how can we ever hope to attract those who want to do good for the people they represent? The Education of An Idealist is for anyone interested in diplomacy, human rights, and the barriers to and triumphs of women's leadership.

Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning

Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning by Liz Cheney, former chair of the House Republican Conference, is a powerful memoir that takes you inside the heart of American democracy during a time of Constitutional crisis. I read this book with a discussion group that included people from diverse political persuasions. It captured all of us and provided common ground for civil conversations.

Cheney's brave stance against attacks on the democratic process is truly inspiring. I had watched much of the January 6 th hearings but this book gave me new behind-the-scenes information as well as insight into the double-speak of politicians who say one thing in private and another in public. The firsthand accounts of the January 6th insurrection are chilling, and the inclusion of Capitol Police testimony adds a visceral element to the story. I highly recommend checking it out on Audible for an even more immersive experience. This book is a must-read for anyone who believes in putting country before partisan politics.


Women We Should Know…

Grace Lee Boggs was the daughter of Chinese immigrants who is a key figure in the Asian American, Black Power, and Civil Rights Movement. An author and activist with a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Boggs worked with Malcolm X and her husband, James Boggs, during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Author of several books, this activist even tried to convince Malcolm X to run for the U.S. Senate in 1964. Grace passed in 2015 at age 100. However, the Boggs’ home in Detroit still serves as the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, a place of community-based projects, grassroots organizing, and local and national social activism.

Peggy Alexander was one of the African-American students to lead sit-ins against segregated lunch counters (along with Matthew Walker, Diane Nash, and Stanley Hemphill) in Nashville, Tennessee. At just 22 years of age, Peggy helped to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) along with Diane Nash, and coordinate the Freedom Rides, a nonviolent protest to desegregate interstate buses and terminals throughout the South. The group faced bombings and other attacks but the Freedom Riders continued on.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy urged Peggy to call off the protests as violence was escalating. But Peggy refused. “We recognized that if the Freedom Ride was ended right then after all that violence, southern White racists would think that they could stop a project by inflicting enough violence on it,” she told him.

The Freedom Rides concluded in the fall of 1961 with a victory. The Interstate Commerce Commission made segregated bus travel and terminals illegal. Peggy died at just 38 years old in November of 1973.

These and so many other women exemplify courage in action. Can their lives inspire us to stand up for justice and a better life for everyone? We stand on very big shoulders and that can make us say, “I could never do what they did.” But Grace and Peggy and so many others only did the next thing in front of them.

What stands in front of you? A young person you can tell the untold stories to? Neighbors who need encouragement to vote and get to the polls? Colleagues at work who need your support so that their voices are heard? No action is too small.

I only wish I had heard more about these women growing up, but it’s never too late to learn about their steadfast bravery and follow their examples – one beautiful small step after another.

*Sue’s one-woman show, Mothers & Other Wild Women Live at the Studio Theater, is available for download at: women-live-at-the-studio-theater

"A funny, uplifting celebration of the many roles women play and the friendships that sustain them”

*If you know someone who is part of an organization that wants to focus on equity issues, would you send this article to them or tell them about O’Halloran Diversity Productions? They can reach us at and we will set up a short conversation to see if we can be of help to them. Thanks in advance!

*You may reprint this article with proper credit: Written by Sue O’Halloran at

Susan O'Halloran

4 min read

Mar 17



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