April 08, 2010

Gloria Steinem and Wilma Mankiller

Gloria Steinem reflects on friendship with Wilma Mankiller

By Sheila StogsdillThe women’s friendship spanned a quarter of a century, she said.

In addition to being political allies, the women spent vacations together and shared life’s ups and downs, including sicknesses and the death of Steinem’s husband in 2003.

The two women met when Mankiller joined the board for the Ms. Foundation for Women, a nonprofit organization, co-founded by Steinem in 1973.

"A year or so after I met her, she was becoming ill and needed her first (kidney) transplant,” Steinem said. "We bonded over transplant surgery that happened to another friend.”
And:"In a just country, she (Wilma) would have been president,” Steinem said.

The two women fought side by side on many issues, including American Indian and women’s rights.

"She was always inclusive and she personified the balance between men and women,” Steinem said. "She saw people as equal.”

Mankiller’s biggest contribution was that she could show political and social causes were connected and many issues were one in the same, she said.

"Her gift was to create independence, not dependence,” Steinem said.

Wilma paved a way for all young women, not just Cherokee women, she said.
Rob Capriccioso adds:What a story! I love the idea that these two legends of completely different worlds forged a bond, and ended up best friends. The scenario brings a smile to my face, and just makes me want to tell people: “Hey, get to know a Native American today. You might just end up buddies.”

Steinem, often known to wear a necklace given to her by Mankiller, is scheduled be a speaker at the ex-chief’s memorial in Tahlequah, Okla. on Saturday.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Wilma Mankiller Dies.

Below:  "Angela Davis, Wilma Mankiller and Gloria Steinem in 1998."

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