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Still Working for Civil Rights

Although she’s been retired for seven years, Claire Naughtan has never been busier. She ran for state representative in 2006, pitches in on local political races, and advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trangender (GLBT) rights.

Naughtan, who taught family and consumer sciences for nearly 40 years in Attleboro, Massachusetts, has been involved with politics throughout her career. She was the legislative political action team coordinator for the Massachusetts Teachers Association before she made her bid for office, running—in part—to help pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Naughtan received 49.2 percent of the vote. Despite the loss, she continues to receive support from the GLBT community and remains involved with the Democratic Party.

Some questioned her avid support of same-sex marriage, says Naughtan, who isn’t gay, but says, "It’s about civil rights"—an issue that has always been important to her.

In November, Naughtan worked on a local political race, participating with her husband in phone banks and hosting one for a day at their home. Naughtan says her activism has introduced her to dozens of people whom she may not have met otherwise. "I have more friends now than I have ever had in my whole life," she says. "They believe what I believe, and those are the best kind of friends."

--Emma Chadband

A Tradition of Service

Failure isn’t normally a career high point, but retired Alabama educator Gerald Waldrop, says flunking out of law school sparked his devotion to education and service. Waldrop retired from the classroom 16 years ago, following a 30-year career teaching history and political science at Alabama’s Jefferson State and Gadsden State Community Colleges. "I would not trade my teaching career for anything," he says.

Waldrop’s interest in history and political science goes beyond teaching. It’s his passion. In 1970, at the age of 27, he won election to Alabama’s state Legislature. Four years later, just as the nation began legislating some of the gains won during the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s, Waldrop was elected to the Alabama state Senate. "It was a historic time as we worked to move from a segregated society to an integrated one," Waldrop says.

Waldrop also became active with the Alabama Education Association (AEA), championing several worker rights bills. The activism became a lifetime commitment and Waldrop served as AEA state president and was a delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly 34 times.

Married to Callie—a retired educator who was raised by educators—Waldrop passed his passion for education and union involvement to the couples’ daughters. Leigh is AEA’s UniServ Director and her younger sister Natasha holds the same position for the Texas State Teachers Association. "Unionization is really strong in our family," says their dad.

Realizing that the struggle for educators is far from over, Waldrop urges fellow retirees to fight for education through political involvement. "We still need to keep abreast of education issues and look closely at the candidates for state and federal office," he says. "There’s more to be done."

— Edward Graham





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