The evening glowed Wednesday night with a magical gathering at Marie Equi’s former home in Portland’s Goose Hollow neighborhood. Equi purchased this single-family house in 1924 a few years after she was released from San Quentin Prison. She lived there the rest of her life. It was in this house that Equi recovered from her imprisonment and pieced together a life for herself during the Roaring Twenties. She raised her teenage daughter in the house and undertook an emotionally complicated long-term relationship with prominent labor activist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
Bette Sinclair, current owner of the house, shared her experiences with the two-dozen guests about living in Equi’s home for the last thirty years. She said she had known from the start that her new home had been the residence of Portland’s early woman doctor and fierce advocate for social justice. She recalled the sense of calm, peace, and appreciation for beauty that pervaded the house when she first settled there.
Michael Helquist, author of the new biography “MARIE EQUI: Radical Politics & Outlaw Passions,” talked about the experience of “living with” Marie Equi for ten years while researching and writing the book. He described the complications of Equi’s life – her experience as an outsider much of her life even as she attained a privileged status as a doctor. He detailed a number of her relationships with other women and how she confronted injustice with great risk to her livelihood and personal freedom.
The evening’s celebration of the release of MARIE EQUI proved the highlight of the third day of the Portland book tour.
Author Historian Activist