Old stereotypes die hard.
We were reminded of that obvious fact on reading an Op-Ed in The New York Times over the weekend that managed to drag one of our Leagues—Dallas—and its members into the controversy surrounding the political culture in Dallas on the day that President John F. Kennedy was murdered 50 years ago this November 22.
We won’t go into what the author had to say about Dallas members, though if you want to read the article, it’s called “The City With a Death Wish in Its Eye—Dallas’s Role in Kennedy’s Murder.”
The point is that sometimes The Junior League and its members make easy targets for journalists and opinion writers who want to find ways to distance themselves from “the bad old days,” when America wasn’t as perfect as they might want. Think of it as the white-gloves-and-pearls stereotype on steroids.
The fact is, throughout our 112-year-history, Junior Leagues have reflected the times and moved forward with the times. Our founder, Mary Harriman, and early members like Eleanor Roosevelt worked with poor immigrants in settlement houses on New York City’s Lower East Side. League volunteers ran soup kitchens during the Great Depression. In the 1950s many Leagues helped develop children’s museums and innovative educational television programming. And today’s members are at the forefront of tackling society’s thorniest issues—addressing and acting as advocates on an array of critical issues like human trafficking, foster care, juvenile justice, teen self-esteem, cyberbullying, literacy and the environment, among others—for the purpose of enhancing the social, cultural and political fabric of our civil society.
By the way, here’s how The Junior League of Dallas recalls the 1960s…and President Kennedy’s death: “The 1960s were a time of change in Dallas and around the country—socially, politically and philosophically. From the sit-ins and civil rights demonstrations of the early 1960s to Vietnam protests and Woodstock later that decade, an atmosphere of change and unrest prevailed. Members cried at the assassinations of their leaders and celebrated when the first man walked on the moon.”
Which, for those among us who lived through the 1960s, pretty much sums it up.