Work is love made visible.
Mary C. Johnston, Sr.
Women of Action
The inspiration for GenAwe came from the example and influence of many great women. Here are stories of three.
Mary C. Johnston, Sr. (1893-1987) In the summer of 1968, while studying civics and government at Georgetown University, I met Senator Peter Dominick’s Chief of Staff. When I introduced myself and mentioned that he might know my grandmother, upon hearing her name, he exclaimed, “Mister Johnston, not only do we know your Grandmother’s name, we know her handwriting!” No one had ever called me ‘Mister’ before and the experience left an impression.
Gram took her responsibility as an American citizen seriously. She studied out the issues, then wrote cogent, compelling personal letters to world leaders, thinkers, writers, dissidents, Presidents, First Ladies, Senators, Representatives, Governors, Prime Ministers and, of course, to her own family. And they wrote back.
A letter to Gram from President Jimmy Carter hangs on my office wall. It reads, in part,
I appreciate your confidence as well as your friendship. Roslyn joins me in sending out warm best wishes.
She would say that, given the present state of affairs, it is time to get involved.
Mary C. Johnston, Jr. (1922-1978) After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Stephens College, my mother went to Washington, D.C. to become a journalist. She did. She became a key member of nationally syndicated newspaper columnist Drew Pearson’s staff. Based on her studies of Latin and Central America, she also the 7th highest ranking woman in the U.S. Department of State and a presidential speechwriter, all before she turned thirty.
My mother once told me, “I listened to President Truman read the speech I wrote. He took a limousine home, and I rode the bus. It didn’t seem fair.”
After returning to Colorado, my single mother got her law degree, passed the bar, and practiced law in Denver and Aspen. She was appointed the Pitkin County Court Judge by Governor John Love, and provided the defendants that appeared before her with one essential instruction:
“I know you’re scared. If you will be honest with me and know that I have your best interests at heart, I’ll help you get through this.”
Seems like good advice and a good practice.
Mary Caroline DeHart, our daughter, is a C-Level Executive with an automotive software company. Mary and her husband Brett adopted two beautiful boys, Ezekiel (6) and Antony (5), from St. Martin. Another son is imminent.
During a recent conversation in their kitchen, I was touched, permanently, by a mother’s steely-eyed assessment of a horrific national reality: “Dad, we have two black sons! Anything that can be done to make America safer for them gets my support!” Mine too.
Ask yourself “If more women were in positions of local, regional, statewide and national leadership, could we make greater racial progress than we have in the past?
GenAwe does not represent a male’s abrogation of responsibility. Quite the contrary, if a spirit of unity, inclusion and cooperation reins, GenAwe can become the 21t Century realization of past social movements.
If GenAwe makes sense to you, please tell others. I am an old man, and not fluent with modern technology and social media communication. Nonetheless, with your help, perhaps others will strap on the Generational Awareness prism and together we’ll scrutinize the past; we’ll gather the best minds we can find, plan for the future, and collaborate. Our pivot really can unfolds smoothly.
It’s the right thing to do.