Impatient for Justice

University of Mary Washington Magazine profiles Senator Nan Orrock in their recent issue:

Impatient for Justice

Equal rights visionary took unpopular stand

Just about every college student finds one person who shines through the crowd and influences classmates for the good. For me, that person was Nan Grogan. When I was a freshman in 1963, she was the super-serious junior who was pushing the rest of us to join the civil rights movement. At her urging, I tutored poor black Fredericksburg children in a YWCA after-school program. I didn’t really know Nan back then, but I never forgot her.

A few years ago I Googled her name and learned that since my first memories of her more than 50 years ago she has never stopped being an activist. Nan Grogan Orrock ’65 is among the South’s most veteran and well-respected advocates of social change. She is one of the longest-serving and most progressive members of the Georgia legislature and has left her mark on every sector of social justice: civil rights, women’s rights, worker rights, gay rights, environmental rights.

She’s chased after cross-burning Ku Klux Klansmen, cut sugar cane in Cuba, started an alternative newspaper, organized unions, led strikes, been arrested a bunch of times, and still stands on picket lines. At 70, she’s far from done. I had to finally get to know her. The week before Christmas, I flew to Atlanta and sat down with her at the State Capitol.

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