SPEAKER: Mims Butterworth
If an honorary award were given for a Blue Wave Fest Democracy Champion—someone who has practiced and defended democracy the longest—Mims would be our recipient. Mims is 100 years old, a longtime Connecticut Democratic Party leader, a former President of Hartford College for Women, former PUCA Chairwoman appointed by Gov. Ella Grasso, and a former West Hartford Town Council member. She is also the author of three books that articulate how one person’s life has been centered on democracy and the need to participate in it, defend it and challenge the forces that wish to defeat it.
Mims’ life trajectory was propelled by her early experience in Germany in 1938 during Hitler’s rise to power. She wrote about it in 2017, in her book, Lull Before the Storm, a harrowing report on people and conditions in 1938 Germany just prior to World War II where she spent a summer studying at the University of Heidelberg and traveling widely experiencing the beginnings of Nazi fascism—a summer that informed her commitment to democracy for the rest of her life.
After returning, Mims participated in the American Youth Congress of 1939 in Washington, D.C., where she met Eleanor Roosevelt and became concerned about such issues as segregation and the witch hunts of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Opposition to McCarthyism in the 1950s led her on an amazing journey that took her to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, to the Paris Peace Talks in 1971, to Beijing on the Women’s Peace Train in 1995, and to the Hague Appeal for Peace and Justice in 1999.
Mims has been a long-time anti-war campaigner against the Vietnam War, the Central American Wars and the Iraq War. Her two most recent books “Just Say Yes,” (2010) a cultural and political history of the Twentieth Century; and “My Felonious Friends,” (2015), about her active and forthright advocacy for prison reform, are a remarkable tribute to the power of compassion, involvement and life-long activism.
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