NY Times Obits: Retroactively Honoring Women

I don’t usually read the obits. My mother did, frequently calling me with an item from the long running Kearny Observer, the local rag. The conversation would run something like this: “Do you remember Eddie Schlagenhaft? He played with Wendy. His cousin’s mother married somebody who lived near us on Maple Street, and that person had a uncle whose brother is a descendant of someone who served in the Civil War. Anyway, the brother’s third cousin just died and he’s being waked at Eddie Reid’s Funeral Parlor.” “No, Mom.  I don’t remember Eddie Schlagenhaft.” “You have to remember Eddie Schlagenhaft. I knew his mother. They’ve been a Kearny family forever.

If you saw the Oscar nominated film Lady Bird, this conversation is right along the lines of something that might have passed between Lady Bird and her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf.

But I did read that the NY Times is having pangs of conscience about the fact that their obits have mostly covered white men. In this time of honoring women, they have remedied that by writing obits for prominent but overlooked women whose deaths passed unnoticed at the time: Ida B. Wells, Diane Arbus, Qiu Jin, Sylvia Plath, Henrietta Lacks, and many others.

Take a few moments to check out the article. I knew about many of these women, but not all. And I loved being reminded of the courageous lives of people like Ida B. Wells, who deserves to be lifted up and honored by the NY Times and by history in general.


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