Spirit of Liberty

Mary Travers, Defender of Democracy and Folk Music Legend, R.I.P.

Mary Travers of the folk music trio Peter, Paul and Mary passed away this week. She was a longtime friend, ally, and supporter of People For the American Way and a powerful advocate for justice and equal rights throughout her life.

PFAW honored Travers and her bandmates Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey for their decades of activism at our 1999 Spirit of Liberty event. This tribute video, which was played at the event, explains why they were awarded the Defender of Democracy award: The progressive movement had a great friend in Mary Travers, and we are saddened by the loss. We send our condolences to her friends and family.

PFAW

The Most Trusted Liberal in America – Walter Cronkite's 1988 Post-Election Speech (VIDEO)

Legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite, who passed away earlier this month, publicly came out as a liberal at PFAW’s Spirit of Liberty dinner held just days after the 1988 election. As the New York Times reported, “Walter Cronkite had always been more comfortable delivering the news than making it. But something was gnawing at him, and when the opportunity arose one evening not long after George Bush was elected President, Mr. Cronkite made a speech in defense of liberal values that surprised people more than he could have imagined.” Cronkite’s critique of Democratic politicians and call for liberals to forcefully advocate for their values are just as relevant now as then:

PFAW

Farewell, Studs

Last week, Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize winning author and activist, died at age 96. Pictured above with Barack Obama, Terkel spoke at People For’s Chicago Spirit of Liberty event in 2004, and his stories about the blacklist and Mahalia Jackson had people hanging on every word. His message to the crowd was to “say NO” to the official line, the Bush administration’s abuse of the Constitution, etc.

I have to think that he took some great pleasure in his final days from the coming end of the Bush administration and the big changes that appear to be headed our way.

PFAW