We Lost Another Giant – Healthcare NOW advocate Marilyn Clement.

I’m fully aware that some of you do know, but longtime health care activist Marilyn Clement died Monday at the age of 74. Her list of accomplishments would take up this entire space, but suffice to say she was one of the nation’s greatest advocates for universal, single payer health care. This means she was talking about it a long time ago, before the current debate.

marilyn.clement.Coretta Scott king
Coretta Scott King and Marilyn Clement

And she spoke up for single payer, universal health care right up until her passing. Marilyn Clement was national co-ordinator for the organization Healthcare-NOW. Universal care was her passion. I consider it one of the missed opportunities of my career that I never had a chance to interview her. And yet, she shares a lot with many of the great people I’ve met in my life.

One word links them, selflessness. That is, to think of the greater good beyond what’s good for you. Marilyn Clement had this in abundance. Whether it was her work with the civil rights movement or helping fledgling organizations like Progressive Democrats of America, she did the work not for personal celebrity, but for regular, just plain folks.

Check out her speech at the Judson Memorial Church in New York back in June…

It was an event to honor her, but something struck me while watching it. Conservative groups that are trying to kill any type of health care reform (let alone single payer) constantly rally their troops. They send out e-mails that say keep up the fight, that progress is being made.

So it was with Marilyn Clement, though obviously in the opposite direction. She told that audience at Judson that we don’t have single payer yet, but eventually, we will. That the fight must be kept up, and so must the spirits of those waging the battle. She said those words knowing she wouldn’t live to see the result. To me, that’s the true definition of selflessness.

Let’s be clear. What passes the Congress and gets signed into law by President Obama won’t be single payer health care. Supporters like Cong. Henry Waxman say universal care could never pass the Congress. Still, because of the work of Marilyn Clement and those she inspired to get involve, universal, single payer care is closer than it’s been in my lifetime.

So, rest in peace, Marilyn Clement. I didn’t know you, but I am one of those who is grateful for all you did, and deeply mourn your passing. Your legacy is with those you’ve left behind to carry on your good work.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Christian says:

    She will be missed. I thought I saw something about her passing on fark.com. I loved how she didn’t have a one-size fits all fix, but many different, possible fixes.

  2. sanda says:

    Thank you. Single payer is the BEST way to go. Repubs and Dems have been
    working to keep it from not being discussed, as well as the mainstream media.
    Obama was for single payer when he was a State Sen. in IL (see http://www.blackagendareport.com for the video).

    The public wants single payer. Also see http://www.pnhp.org Physicians for National Health Care Program (I hoped I typed it correctly – have trouble confirming google and not
    losing comment, sigh).

    I am glad Marilyn Clement got some kudos in her lifetime.
    “Grandpa” Al Lewis used to say that the battle for the things he believed in was the
    important thing and that he didn’t expect to see the issues of justice reached in
    his lifetime, but it didn’t matter. Working for the general good, such as Howard Zinn, is something that I wouldn’t call “selflessness”, but an awareness of our all being
    part of this world and to contribute to improving it for all of us. It certainly makes
    going to sleep at night easier.

  3. Charles Kiker says:

    I’ve known Marilyn Boydstun Clement since we were students in Tulia High School, Tulia, Texas way back in 1950. I was reacquainted with Marilyn at a high school reunion in 2000. Because I knew she was a social activist, I sought her out to tell her the story of the infamous Tulia Drug Sting. She provided invaluable contacts to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Randy Credico, and Sarah and Emily Kunstler. The media coverage they provided finally led to at least partial justice for the victims of the sting.

    Marilyn was nurtured in Tulia, Texas by Tulia High School, the Methodist Church before it was United Methodist, and by home town country Editor H. M. Baggarly and probably many others.

    She reached back to her roots all the way from New York City to help bring justice to her home town.

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