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On a perfect Portland evening with all living things refreshed by an afternoon rain, nearly 60 celebrants welcomed the release of MARIE EQUI. Dale Danley and I greeted old friends from Portland, Eugene, and even a surprise few from San Francisco. And we were pleased to meet many fans of Equi and her story. I commented in my talk that Marie Equi would be pleased to know she can still pack a hall.
The spacious pavilion featured an enormous screen with the image of Marie Equi contemplating all who gathered below. If I had any butterflies when I started speaking, I knew I could look over at Winston Churchill (a full size wax figure) and faintly hear him saying "Courage."
Eliza Canty-Jones of OHS welcomed all and was generous in her comments about working with me on articles I wrote for the Oregon Historical Quarterly. Special guest Kimberly Jensen is a very bright star. She's a dedicated and prolific author and historian who has become a good friend through several years of this project, and I was honored to have her introduce me. And then she awarded me with a large size reproduction of Marie Equi's graduation diploma from medical school in 1903. I had never seen it in my years of research. An OHS stafff member recently discovered it in a box labeled simply "Documents." THIS is the thrill of research. I am moved by the generosity of Kim Jensen and the OHS staff.
The theme of my talk was "Whose Story Gets Told?" as a kind of riff on the three questions from the last song of the new Broadway musical Hamilton: "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?" Marie Equi -- with her working class background, immigrant parents, and lesbian identity -- had been someone whose story did not get told to the full public for thirty years after her death in 1952. She was one of the marginalized people -- women, working class and poor, immigrants, racial minorities, political radicals and LGBTQ people -- whose life stories never appeared.
Then I described how Equi's story reached this point so that now, Her Story Got Told.
I was happy that my mother was able to be with us last night and that I could give her the book just two months short of her 98th birthday. She was a hit of the party with many people coming up to say hello. Also my sister Jo and my brother-in-law Jim continued their ongoing support by being there.
A huge thanks to the Oregon Historical Society, especially to Eliza Canty-Jones, editor of the Oregon Historical Quarterly and to Geoff Wexler of the OHS Research Library. Also to the Oregon State University Press for patience and encouragement while I completed the manuscript. Special shout outs to Mary Elizabeth Braun, acquisitions editor, Marty Brown, marketing manager, and Micki Reaman, production manager.
My husband Dale Danley helped keep me focused and assumed all the technical details and book sales. He's a gem. We were both glowing from the evening.
An excellent launch. We could not be happier.
Author Historian Activist