Gerda Lerner— Fierce, Brilliant & Unique
Gerda Lerner was fierce, brilliant and unique. She lived history by her bravery, restored history by her scholarship, and democratized its study by her activism. She understood, as Paula Gunn Allen wrote, that, "the root of oppression is the loss of memory."
She was also wise about daily life. I remember her leading a small group of women in a discussion of aging. She went around the circle asking what we feared most about getting older, and everyone said in some form, "being dependent, a burden." Then she asked us if we felt the dependency of children was a burden. We all said no. In that instant, she changed our feeling about aging, and helped us understand that dependency is natural. At both ends of life, it's a chance for love and bonding.
For those who knew Gerda, she will always be a force. For those who don't yet know her, she awaits you in the words she left behind.
In Memoriam: Gerda Lerner, April 30, 1920 – January 2, 2013
Excerpt credited to University of Wisconsin-Madison, UW-Madison, University Communications with additional comments for MAKERS from Gloria Steinem
Photo Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives