Nancy Weinbeck
Nancy Weinbeck

Today’s older adults have lived through tumultuous times, and many have witnessed or have been victims of societal injustice. The stories are sad and we know them too well, but the resiliency of our elders gives us hope for the future.

When I was just out of college, I saw Maggie Kuhn (1905-95), founder of the Grey Panthers, speak at a bookstore in Philadelphia. She fought against age discrimination and was an inspiration for many. Maggie once said: “A healthy community is one in which the elderly protect, care for, love and assist the younger ones to provide continuity and hope.”  She also said, “Power should not be concentrated in the hands of so few, and powerlessness in the hands of so many.”

Dr. Dorothy Height (1912–2010), called the godmother of the civil rights movement by Barack Obama when he awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, continued to fight for civil rights up until her death at the age of 98. She led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years and was one of the March on Washington’s main organizers where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. Height shared “Progress comes from caring more about what needs to be done than about who gets the credit.”

Some of our loudest voices of protest come from our older adults, who have the wisdom, perspective, and experience to fight for a more just society. With age comes freedom from expectations and responsibilities that can often weigh down younger generations.

Kuhn said, “We who are old have nothing to lose! We have everything to gain by living dangerously! We can initiate change without jeopardizing jobs or family. We can be the risk-takers.” Many of our residents at Bayview continue the fight for civil rights and a better nation and a better world. They have much to teach us, and I for one am listening.

— Bayview CEO Nancy Weinbeck has a B.A. in anthropology and an M.S. in nonprofit management, with additional academic background in gerontology and clinical psychology. She has spent over 25 years in the field of aging, the last 19 with Bayview.