Thursday, January 21, 2016

#21 / Singing For Marge Frantz

Pictured is Marge Frantz, who was a much-beloved teacher at the University of California at Santa Cruz. I have previously reported that Marge died in Santa Cruz on October 16, 2015, at the age of ninety-three. 

Last Sunday, a memorial gathering in honor of Marge Frantz was held in the University's Recital Hall. It was a moving tribute to Marge, who inspired literally thousands of her students, and others, to devote their lives and energies to work for social and economic justice.  

Some high points for me:

  • The opening presentation, by Helene Moglen, who I think perfectly captured how Marge lived her life: "Thought and action, fused with feeling."
  • Holly Near, performing her powerful song, I Am Willing: "I am open and I am willing; To be hopeless would seem so strange; It dishonors those who go before us; So lift me up to the light of change." 
  • A poem, by Marge Piercy, "To Be Of Use," read by Sarah Rabkin, epitomizing Marge's commitment to her work as an activist, and as a teacher: "The pitcher cries for water to carry; and a person for work that is real." 
  • A description of Marge's way of reaching students, as recounted by a faculty colleague, Paul Skenazy: "Marge broke the gravitational pull of the present and the personal by turning students' attention to the past and the political." 
  • The moving closing anthem, Singing For Our Lives, with Holly Near leading and all of those present joining her, and raising their voices to proclaim: "We are all in this together and we are singing, singing for our lives."

Those who spoke, and Holly Near, who sang, and Marge herself, are all correct: 

We are all in this together. We must turn our attention to the political. We must seek out work that is real. We must lift up our lives to the light of change. Our lives must be filled with action, based on thought, and fused with feeling.

We should be singing; we should be working; we should be thinking; we should be speaking. 

We are singing. We should be singing for our lives! 

Image Credits:
Personal photos by Gary Patton


  1. Thank you for posting this. Though I did not know Marge, two friends of mine knew Marge well and they always speak of her with tremendous admiration and affection. This is lovely.

  2. I just saw this comment, Rochelle, as I searched out this posting for someone who mentioned Marge to me. She was a wonderful person and a powerful force for good in this world!


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