Doris “Granny D” Haddock made a spiritual appearance at Keene State College Friday through the play “Go Granny Go.”
“Granny D’s spirit is certainly in this room tonight,” Jim Rousmaniere, former editor and president of The Sentinel, said after actress Barbara Bates Smith and musician Jeff Sebens performed “Go Granny Go” in the Mountain View Room.
Haddock, of Dublin, was in her 90s when she became interested in politics, primarily campaign finance reform, in 2000. After caring for eight children, as well as her husband who fell victim to Alzheimer’s disease for 10 years, she decided it was time to make a difference in American government. She died in March 2010 at age 100.
The play gave a quick re-enactment of the time in Haddock’s life that she traveled 3,200 miles over 14 months, using four pairs of shoes, from Santa Monica, Calif., to Washington, D.C., all the way up to her final years. Her walk was to call attention to the need for campaign finance reform, and shortly before her death, she expressed dismay over the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Citizens United, which opened the floodgates for corporations to pour money into political campaigns with virtually no restrictions.
The event at Keene State was sponsored by PACE — Promoting Active Civic Engagement — a group formed by Haddock’s friends and supporters following her death to continue the work she had started.
Bates and Sebans captured the essence of Haddock by reading portions of her journals and reciting her speeches. The play was both sentimental as well as humorous. The audience gathered in patriotic songs and even campaign raps from Haddock’s voyage.
“I certainly hope they go away inspired to be more active in making a difference in any issue in their community,” Ruth Meyers, a fellow campaigner and friend of Haddock’s, said.
Haddock’s main issue, and the reason for the cross-country trek, was to advocate for campaign finance reform. She had a problem with corporations funneling money into campaign fundraising for elections.
Daniel Weeks, executive director of Open Democracy, said he is still trying to advocate for Haddock’s “moral cause.” He met Haddock when she visited his high school in Peterborough and he became addicted to her ideas: so addicted that he ended up joining her in her campaigns for a short time. Open Democracy states the American government no longer works for American people, according to its website.
“As Granny D used to say, ‘Democracy is not something you have, its something you do’ “ Weeks said.
The crowd brought up other issues Haddock would have been involved in if she could, such as computer voting discrepancies, teachers’ involvement in the Granny D’s in Schools Committee, and putting a tax on businesses’ campaign donations that would go to public elections.
“I thought the play was really, really good. They did such a great job of capturing her. She was such an inspiring person, if only because, its amazing at her age she would care that much and put her life on the line for it that much,” said Sindiso Mnisi Weeks, Daniel Weeks’ wife.
Bates read from Haddock’s journal, “We should all remember that democracy is a running game, you huddle and you go back in, you keep going.”