I learned this morning that Mary Frances Platt died in a hospital on September 15. The explanation provided was “complications from disability.” Many may remember her for the anger that drove her to fight tirelessly for justice, yet that passion was infectious and transformative. Nonetheless, the moments of gentleness and affection that came after we’d duked out a solution to some seemingly intractable problem are what I remember best. I always thought we’d bump into each other again and find another project on which to work…
A memorial is apparently being planned for this spring in Northampton…
Mary Frances is one of the two individuals who’ve had the most profound impact on my life. I met her during organizing for the National Lesbian Conference, held in Atlanta in 1991. While I had always been concerned about issues of racism, both class and disability were new areas (and oh did I have a lot to learn!) Mary Frances saw a budding ally in me, and taught me more than I can ever say about accessibility – attitudinal as well as physical and economic.
We worked together on access issues for several women’s music festivals, and she’s the one who recruited me to the Social Justice Education program where I earned my Master’s in 1996. Time spent with Mary Frances was never dull! While most of the memories are about work and activism, there were many mellow (and conspiratorial!) times at her camp near Pelham, MA. I’d say, mary Frances’ spirit was too big for her body, and with that body (!) – you know I’m saying a lot. Peace, now, my friend.
Here are some additional links I can find to info about her on the web:
by cripfemme at Blogit
by pitbull poet at no pity
and some of Mary Frances’ writing:
The Belchertown Crip Railroad
No Big Brother Here
The new Refugees
The Terry Schindler Schiavo Crippled Kickball Team
Rebecca, Me, and the Freak Show