The Gustavian Weekly

St. Peter residents come together to celebrate late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - The Gustavian Weekly

By Carter Brown - Staff Writer | September 25, 2020 | News

Last Sunday, Sept. 20, a vigil was held for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in order to celebrate her life, recognize her achievements and call for change through the upcoming election.
The event was filled with personal stories, a musical ensemble in honor of Justice Ginsburg, a moment of silence followed by a Hebrew prayer of mourning and a visit from U.S. House Representative candidate Dan Feehan.
The event was organized by the St. Peter-Greater Mankato chapter of Indivisible.
“[Indivisible is a] widespread non-partisan group that supports a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable world,” Visiting Assistant Professor in History Misti Harper said.
Harper recounted her story about discovering what femininity meant for her and her road to womanhood. Growing up in the deep south, she remembers when she first heard of Ginsburg.
“I still thought of myself largely as…someone to be defined by my marital status or motherhood,” said Harper.
“When I first found out about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I was twenty-nine years old in graduate school. I knew the name, but the stuff I heard about her was through the lens of conservatism. Whenever I discovered who she was– this incredible person– who knew how to stand up for herself, be strong in the presence of men…Those were not the ways white Southern women were taught to be. When I saw those key differences, I was like… ‘whoa’,” Harper said.
Ginsburg was an important role model to many in attendance at the vigil. As the second woman ever to be appointed to the high court, she fought against gender discrimination, advocated for women’s reproductive rights and stood up for immigrants and saw success in many of these areas. Those at the vigil recounted her importance in their lives and what her advocacy meant to them.
Two of Gustavus’ students, Senior Mandii Braun and Junior Emily Falk, shared their connections to Justice Ginsburg that night as well.
Braun recited a speech she wrote on the complexities of grief. It is a story about Judaism and the first funeral she attended when she was nine years old. It recounts her feelings of anger towards her traditions when she was younger; as an adult, though, she realized how important those traditions were to her as well as how Ginsburg should be honored.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in no way perfect, and it would be unfair of us to believe that she was. What she was, however, was a woman. One that fought every day until her last to keep us safe,” Braun said.
“We should remember her for how she lived, and for who she was, not just for the things that she gave us. In reality we should not be expected to lean on her to keep us safe– she should be allowed to rest,” Braun said.
When Falk took the stage, she talked about how Ginsburg served as a role model to her, how influential she was to her personally and how her influence encouraged her to become a pre-law student.
At the end of her speech, Falk brought about a call to action.
“We have to step outside of our mind, body and soul and just get it done. It’s about more than your vote. What about after you cast your vote on November third, what’re you going to do? We cannot let any kind of regressive action to pass along… It’s keeping action, and we can never stop. We need to keep going, because that is what RBG would want us to do,” Falk said.
One of the most notable speakers of the night was U.S. House Representative candidate Dan Feehan, as he talks about what voting means to him during this election year and what Justice Ginsburg means to him and his family.
“The third person I voted for was my daughter. I think about the history of Justice Ginsburg and I think about her life, I think about her entire life as a fight up until her dying breath. And I think about my daughter. Because in some way, shape or form my daughter is going to learn about Justice Ginsburg,” Feehan said.
He ends his speech with a solemn, yet hopeful note about the future and what it holds.
“I wish this was a night that we could grieve, and grieve alone. But unfortunately, we can’t. We have to grieve and we have to fight. The times have found us. If that has not sunk in yet, let it sink in now. You find people in your life who believe their vote doesn’t matter and you convince them otherwise. You tell them who you are voting for, who you are fighting for every single day. We have hope, urgency, and agency,” Feehan said.
The event concluded with a classical music ensemble organized by Indivisible, in honor of Ginsburg’s favorite genre, and a moment of silence during a Hebrew prayer of mourning.

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