I write with the news that after a very full and rich life of 95 years, our founder, our friend, our mentor and our leader has passed away. Connie Hogarth passed away peacefully in her sleep last night at home surrounded by loved ones. A lifelong peace, justice and environmental activist, Connie was the co-founder and Executive Director of WESPAC for 23 years until 1996.
Her efforts in the years at WESPAC included educational and activist work to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, NY; active support for ending apartheid in South Africa and local efforts in the broad areas of human rights, LGBTQI rights, civil rights, affordable housing and equal educational opportunities.
From 1984 to 1989, she was on the board of the National Rainbow Coalition and played an active organizing role in the two presidential campaigns of the Rev.Jesse Jackson. She was also a longtime member of the board of the Lower Hudson Valley Civil Liberties Union.
Shortly after her retirement from WESPAC, she was honored with the establishment at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, of the Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action, dedicated to training students to move from academics to activism, combining conscience, career and social change. The Center occupied a major part of her activism, working for peace education, human rights, environmental justice, criminal justice, and a broad perspective on the U.S. role in the world. She was the co-chair of the annual Anti Death Penalty lectures held at Manhattanville College, co-sponsored by the Connie Hogarth Center and the Civil Liberties Union.
Her environmental focus of the past few years centered around climate change and the dangers of global warming. She was one of the founding members of the Climate Crisis Coalition, launched in 2004 and based in Lenox, Massachusetts.
She served on the board of Defending Dissent, the national organization based in D.C., to defend the Bill of Rights and particularly the First Amendment, which has become more urgent than ever in these times.
After many years living in Westchester, she and her late husband, Art Kamell, moved to Dutchess County, in a house facing their beloved Hudson River and Storm King Mountain. Pete and Toshi Seeger were their close neighbors for many years, and with their inspiration, Connie became closely involved in the Beacon Sloop Club, an offshoot of the boat The Clearwater Sloop and its organization.
She became an active member of the Dutchess Democratic Committee and the Fishkill Democratic Committee and was honored for her social and environmental activism. She was also an active member of the NAACP for many years and, after moving to Dutchess County, became active in the Southern Dutchess branch. She helped to reactivate this NAACP branch and worked on many NAACP programs.
Another focus for Connie was the MidHudson Progressive Alliance, a Beacon and Southern Dutchess peace and justice group which lobbied on issues such as ending the wars, funding human need priorities and health care reform, particularly advocating and working for a single payer system.
She was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award from the Westchester Human Rights Commission in 2010 and the Westchester Martin Luther King Institute Award and the Clara Lemlich Award of the Labor and Triangle (Shirtwaist Factory Fire) Coalition.Overriding for her was a belief in nonviolence, alternatives to war, justice in all its faces, and working to leave an earth for our children and for generations ahead. Let us collectively continue to keep her spirit alive as we work to end injustice in our world forever and ever.
Andrew Courtney put together this beautiful film in honor of Connie which he shared with her last fall on her 95th birthday: