Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The beach lady from American Beach, Florida

With her searing intellect, deep spirituality and 7 foot dread lock, The Beach Lady was a free spirit who fought for historical and ecological preservation of American Beach. Photo by Eric Breitenbach, Courtesy of American Beach Museum


A great article was recently published (The Spirits of American Beach) about the only black-owned beach in the southeast during the days of segregation called American Beach in northeast Florida.

When I lived in Florida, and frequently organized peace walks up and down the state, we twice camped on this beach and were regaled (in word and song) by the beach lady, MaVynee Betsch, who is credited with saving American Beach as rich hotel/condo/golf courses encroached on all sides of the historic black beach and its endangered dunes.

MaVynee was an opera singer who got cancer while singing in polluted European cities and came home to American Beach to heal herself. Soon she began fighting to save the beach. She never cut her hair or nails again (carrying them in a bundle in her arms) - some folks thought she was crazy but she was brilliant - a true fighter for the environment and peace.

One of my favorite stories she told was one day being on the beach and a white woman gruffly approaching her complaining about the condition of the deteriorating buildings on American Beach. During its segregation heydays American Beach was filled with black people from all over swimming, dancing, eating and being free from the cruel confines of Jim Crow.  

After integration came black folks largely stopped coming to American Beach and it declined.  The white woman said to MaVynee, "Why don't you people clean this place up?"  MavVynee proudly replied to her with force, "These are our ruins.  You white folks travel to Europe and other places to see ruins from civilizations - well baby these are our ruins."

I was honored to know her and call her a friend.

Read the full story here

Bruce

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