Maggie Kuhn Quotes

August 3, 1905 - April 22, 1995

Maggie Kuhn in DC, 1981
Mickey Adair/Getty Images

Maggie Kuhn is best known for founding the organization often called the Gray Panthers, a social activist organization raising issues of justice and fairness for older Americans. She is credited with the passage of laws prohibiting forced retirement and with reform in health care and nursing home oversight. She worked for many years with the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in Cleveland and then with the United Presbyterian Church in New York City, doing programming for social causes including on race, women's rights, and the elderly. (Note: the organization called Gray Panthers was officially known at first as the Consultation of Older and Younger Adults for Social Change.)

Selected Maggie Kuhn Quotations

• My goal is to do something outrageous every day.

• Few people know how to be old.

• Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind—even if your voice shakes.

• We who are old have nothing to lose! We have everything to gain by living dangerously! We can initiate change without jeopardizing jobs or family. We can be the risk-takers.

• A healthy community is one in which the elderly protect, care for, love and assist the younger ones to provide continuity and hope

• We're missing a historical perspective that older people can provide. My generation has to be heard and heeded

• Learning and sex until rigor mortis.

• When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say.

• There is a pervasive societal bias in the U.S., which contends that old age is a disaster and a disease.... On the contrary, it is a part of the continuum of life and oug

•  We've had enormous success all out of proportion to our numbers. We have set a pace. We've been very outspoken in our positions, and we've caught the attention of the media.

• Power should not be concentrated in the hands of so few, and powerlessness in the hands of so many.

• Many things started by a person disappear when the person dies, but I'd consider my job a failure if that happened.

• [What] I dream of and yearn for is that the Gray Panthers will continue to be on the cutting edge of social change, and that the young and old together will continue to work for a just, humane and peaceful world.

• about a protest in Washington, DC: The police came on their horses and rode right into us, you know. That was frightening, those enormous beasts and those hard shoes. A blow could kill you.

• about the name Gray Panthers: It’s a fun name. There’s a certain militancy, rather than just a docile acceptance of what our country’s doing.

• Old age is not a disease—it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses.

• I'm an old woman. I have gray hair, many wrinkles, and arthritis in both hands. And I celebrate my freedom from bureaucratic restraints that once held me.

•The worst indignity is to be given a bedpan by a stranger who calls you by your first name.

• If you are not prepared, retirement at 65 makes you a non-person. It deprives you of the sense of "community" that has previously defined your life.

• By the year 2020, the year of perfect vision, the old will outnumber the young.

• Old people as "elders of the tribe" should be seeking and safeguarding the survival of the tribe—the larger public interest

• Men and women approaching retirement age should be recycled for public service work, and their companies should foot the bill. We can no longer afford to scrap-pile people.

• There must be a goal at every stage of life! There must be a goal!

• What she wanted on her tombstone:  "Here lies Maggie Kuhn under the only stone she left unturned." 

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Maggie Kuhn Quotes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, August 26). Maggie Kuhn Quotes. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Maggie Kuhn Quotes." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).