Susan Blake

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Drawing by Gary Ivan (C) PeaceSmiths, Inc.

Please leave a message in our on-line guestbook for Susan.To see the page with the life celebration invitation (from Jan 2008) go here.
xx

Susan June Blake
June 18, 1953 -October 2, 2007

lovexxx

Susan Blake at the Long Island Peace Summit, speaking out against the Iraq War and possible war with Iran.

The event was held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock. May 24, 2007. (The same venue as Susan’s life celebration event was held.)

Poem about Susan Blake by Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr., Nassau County Poet Laureate

Interview with Susan Blake
June 22, 2007

Third Grade, Lutheran school’s
only African-American child just enrolled.
Betty Blake, Susan’s mother, hears on the phone,
“We want your daughter to make her comfortable.”
Susan shepherds Debbie for first days at school.

Truly, Betty Blake˜s daughter.
“Got a lot of my social conscience from my mother.”
Betty fixed on Nixon hearings. “We shared these.”

“What is Sunday school telling us?
Wicked to tell kids to be afraid of doing wrong thing
and telling us we will be found out.
At five I rejected concept of sin.”

At eight left the church.
“I am interested in all cultures.”

Later–
“Jesus, great revolutionary.
Luther had guts to nail those theses on door.”

High school:
coordinator for activism,
“not just politics,
but to allow learning in the community,
get credit for music,
apply knowledge to real life.”

“Almost leading the teachers.
They knew we were the smart kids. . .
We were breaking cultural barriers down.
Mother’s hanging with us.”

University of Rochester (1971-75).
“Knew exactly what I wanted.”
Designs her major,
Performing Arts in Education and Social Change.
“Lots of spontaneous theatre actions that had a message.”

First year lived in dormitory.
Down the hall Black students.
“They played music loud.”
Comes ’round petition “telling them to be quiet.
I wouldn’t sign. Let them get it out. . . their rage.
Clear moment for me.”

“My proudest moment!
Psychology 101.
Professor shows film explaining electric shock treatment.
I stood up. . .
How can you show this?”

Back on Long Island:
drama and music for Rotary summer camp,
recreation therapist, Brunswick Hospital, 1975-77.
“Got people not just playing banjo and games.
Challenged them, demanded more.
Fired for too good a job.”

Shoreham — Organizes first anti-nuclear demonstration,
beginning full-effort activism–everything else second.

“I made mistakes with relationships,” she says at 54.
“I regret not having focused on finding a partner
to have a child with.”

“I was trying desperately to keep PeaceSmiths going.”

PeaceSmiths, founded 1972.
Office later, 90 Pennsylvania Avenue, Massapequa,
home of near 100-year old activist Katharine Smith.
“Katharine loved what I was doing.”

Coffee house idea
sprung from South Shore visit of Pete Seeger’s “Clearwater.”
Monthly in Katharine Smith’s living room,
hearth, old comfortable chairs . . .
1985 in Margie’s basement, then George Ciproni’s home,
thirteen locations.
Finally, First United Methodist Church, Amityville,
Topical, A-Typical, Folk Music, Poetry and Whatever Coffeehouse.

“Definitely a Pacifist!” she said of herself.
1978 started using term.
“You have to be what you are.
not push against other people,
Don’t use words like ‘anti-imperialist.’
But do not let them repress your energy.”

Stage 4 breast cancer:
“I’m supposedly in terminal stage. . .
tumor has eaten away my breast.
I’ve done my own breast mastectomy.
Now trick is to downgrade it to stage 3. . .
or maybe live healthfully with it. . .
Nothing is really terminal. . . . . .
I’m still able to be a full person.”

“I want PeaceSmiths to be a stable organization.
I fear I will not live long enough.”

Susan Blake’s life–song for peace and justice and love!

Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr. ©

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Charli  |  December 11, 2008 at 2:59 am

    How sad that such a vital woman died of such a hateful disease. I didn’t know her but from this site and her pictures I can tell she must have been a wonderful woman.

  • […] Video: PeaceSmiths/World March for Peace event Posted on October 4, 2009 by kwilder [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TIkPNVuz1I] About the video: host-Sonny Meadows; singer/songwriter Ken Krumenacker*; candle ceremony and poetry by Sister Jeanne Clark; singer/songwriter Gerry McKeveny; sound by Bill Breitenbach; videographer-Kimberly Wilder; technical assistance-Ian Wilder. video produced by http://onthewilderside.com. Video dedicated to the memory of Susan June Blake. […]

  • 3. Carl Pizzo  |  February 3, 2010 at 5:17 am

    What happened to Susan? I knew her and I had moved away. I am back and was going to talk to her about a fund raising idea. Do you still have meetings? Please advise. Thank you and I will say an extra prayer tonight. Geez, I see her so vibrant in my last visions of her. I hope I can help in her memory.

  • […] Reflections on the life and work of Long Island activist Susan June Blake: here. […]

  • 5. gayle  |  December 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    ode to susan, what a wonderful person, woman,advocate!

  • […] at the time, to date myself.  I had started going to the PeaceSmiths Coffeehouse regularly.  Susan Blake, the longtime organizer of PeaceSmiths, served up a monthly blend of music, poetry, and politics. […]

  • […] news is posted in remembrance of a local treasure, Susan Blake, who was protesting the conditions at the Nassau Jail before anyone was paying attention.  Susan, […]

  • 8. Roberta A. McQueen  |  February 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Susan, I am richer for having known you. You were a wonderful woman who just happened to have cancer. I remember you at the cancer support meeting at the rainbow center and I wished you well. I’m so happy you provided a place for poetry and music that helped to enrich others. May God Bless Always. Love, Roberta A. McQueen

  • 9. suzanne ernst  |  January 19, 2014 at 12:54 am

    I did not meet you while you were here…
    You’ve been here, now you are here and there…I know you are still helping planet Earth wherever you are…Thank you Susan Blake.

  • 10. richard quigley  |  September 24, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Katharine Smith was my great Grandmother. I have a handful of good memories of the house in Amityville, long before it became the PeaceSmith House. I wonder if you could share any memories that you have of my Nana. My last memory of her was at her birthday party (100) in Asilomar, CA, but my favorite memories are of her eightieth in Amityville, on Easter Sunday, but I don’t remember the year.

    I remember Katharine (my Nana) telling me the stories of when she took all the grandkids (my Dad included) across the country, just to see the sights.

    Thank you for all you have done, for Nana and everyone else…

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