AFSCME Retiree, 93, Supports Obama & Becomes Video Star

November 06, 2008

November 6, 2008

Margaret Stanton, a 93-year-old retired Maryland social worker and AFSCME retiree now living in Front Royal, VA, wanted to make her quiet voice heard in the midst of the Presidential election. She did – with a letter to Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama and a $40 contribution.

“I read your two books word for word,” wrote Stanton, a member of Maryland Retiree Chapter 1 (Council 67). “I hope and pray that you will become president.”

Given the thousands of letters Obama’s campaign receives each day, it was unlikely that Stanton’s letter would have gotten much notice, let alone generated a personal reply. But Stanton had actually sent her letter to the Virginia AFL-CIO in Richmond, which had sent her an Obama mailer.

“You never know how much a mail piece that we send or a phone call means to people,” says Doris Crouse-Mays, the union’s secretary-treasurer, who read Stanton’s letter. “This mail piece meant enough to Margaret for her to write a letter and send a check to the Obama campaign.”

Crouse-Mays sent the check on to the campaign and decided to meet Stanton personally. So she reached out to Stanton’s daughter, Vivien Blackford, an Obama delegate from Connecticut to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Stanton’s meeting with Crouse-Mays resulted in an AFL-CIO-produced video, called Margaret’s Letter, which also landed on YouTube. In it, Stanton reads from her letter and also reveals her remarkable personal story. Before coming to the United States from Holland in 1940, at 25, she worked with the Dutch resistance, which saved thousands of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. “I helped many Jewish people,” she said.

Stanton’s daughter says the Nazis discovered her mother’s activities and would have killed her had she not escaped to Genoa, Italy. There, Stanton boarded a ship to the U.S., where she earned a degree in social work from the University of Chicago. Later, she moved to Montgomery County, MD, where she worked for the state as a social worker. Stanton also was involved in the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s.

Of course, Stanton voted early for Obama. “I admire him,” she says in the AFL-CIO’s video. “I think that he’s honest. He works for the people. He’s blessed, and I believe in him.”

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