When Granny D Walked Across America
She faced the judge and read her statement: “Your honor, the old woman who stands before you was arrested for reading the Declaration of Independence in America’s Capitol building. I did not raise my voice to do so and I blocked no hall … Your honor, we would never seek to abolish our dear United States. But alter it? Yes. It is our constant intention that it should be a government of, by, and for the people, not the special interests … In my 90 years, this is the first time I have been arrested. I risk my good name, for I do indeed care what my neighbors think about me. But, your honor, some of us do not have much power, except to put our bodies in the way of injustice — to picket, to walk, or to just stand in the way. It will not change the world overnight, but it is all we can do.”
The judge could have imposed a six-month sentence on Doris and charged her $500. Instead he charged her $10, an administrative fee, and praised her for acting on behalf of the “silent masses.” He told her to “take care, because it is people like you who will help us reach our destiny.”
Our walk this morning has been brief, a mere three miles. Tomorrow morning, she will address the Rotary, and the next day she will be at a rally in Boston. Just the week before, she sat on a podium alongside Jane Fonda and Ted Turner at Emerson College, and together, the three of them received honorary doctorate degrees. Next week, she will be addressing the graduates. And in August, she will decline an offer to become the Reform
Party’s vice-presidential nominee. It’s the never-ending story of Doris Haddock.
In Doris’s back bedroom, big golden keys to dozens of cities across the country adorn the bureau and the closet pole sags with all the T-shirts and hats that were given to her a long the way. A bulging scrapbook holds the texts of all the speeches she delivered as she made her way across the country, including one on the floor of the United States Senate. Before her 89th birthday, Doris had never given a public speech in her life.
But now she is pushing 91, which apparently to Doris does not mean the end, but the beginning. “It’s the power of one,” she says. And then she adds, “Only in America!”