Hanging 10 on the Blue Wave! {Guest Post}

My Path to BWPM, by Nancy Berman

On November 8, 1960, when I was five years old, my mom took me into the voting booth and let me check John F. Kennedy’s name on the ballot.  “Participating” in this way for a candidate we were incredibly excited about instilled in me a commitment to vote, and I have in every election after my 18th birthday. 

My formative years were bookended by the assassinations of John, Martin, and Bobby.  I still mourn the loss of these great men. I was nine when JFK was assassinated and remember my family, like so many others across the country, being glued to the TV for the next week.  I naively thought that this could never happen again.  

I grew up in a middle class suburb of Los Angeles.  From a young age, my parents and our synagogue were committed to Tzedakah (Hebrew for charitable work and giving).  I don’t recall all the projects we did in Sunday School, but vividly remember cooking Thanksgiving dinners with my mom and delivering them to struggling families.  And, even though Watts seemed like a world away in sprawling LA, we were deeply affected and disturbed to learn of the horrific living conditions and discrimination that Blacks had to contend with every day.  For the most part, growing up in LA was a blast. I had the pleasure of experiencing the greats - from The Beatles and Rolling Stones to UCLA games starring Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Sandy Koufax pitching for the Dodgers. 

The anti-Vietnam War and anti-establishment movements gained steam when I was in junior high and high school. My parents took me to protest rallies at UCLA, whose student body was active and influential during the 1960’s.  At my high school, a group of us wore black armbands and refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance to protest the War.  We also supported and marched alongside our high school teachers when they were on strike for a decent wage.  

Our family was thrilled when Bobby Kennedy announced his candidacy. My parents took me to see him speak in March 1968. While I don’t recall his exact words, I’ll never forget how his love and commitment to our country resonated with me, as well as the hope he instilled so soon after Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated.  On June 6th, I went to bed thrilled that Bobby would be the Democratic nominee, only to awake to the horrific news a few hours later.  Although devastated by these assassinations, I continued protesting the War as I transitioned from high school to college.  I also became involved with advocacy efforts with my fellow UCLA Bruins. The Watergate hearings and Nixon’s resignation restored my hope that the system could work.  But when Ford pardoned Nixon, those hopes were dashed.  During this time, I also spent eight months at my mom’s side as she lost her brutally painful battle to ovarian cancer.  So, at the ripe old age of 21, I was completely disillusioned with and cynical about politics and life.

I met my husband in 1982 and, in 1983, we  moved to New York City - he worked on Wall Street and I got my law degree. Ultimately, NYC wasn’t for us and we moved to Boulder in 1991.  After our daughter was born in 1992, I got a great job practicing employment law from home and worked on many discrimination cases.  While we supported Democratic candidates, voted, and attended a rally against firearm violence following Columbine, our primary focus was on raising our daughter, work, music, and tennis.  

blue wave postcard movement

In 2011, my life changed dramatically when I contracted a rare, life threatening lung illness and severe asthma. Because my illness is incurable, I’m still plagued by debilitating flare-ups, and have had to learn to live with many restrictions.  Reducing stress as much as possible is imperative, and I’ve been under doctor’s orders to limit, among other things, how much news I watch or read.  I’ve managed for the most part to find a good balance, but that became more difficult as the 2016 election approached.  Before the election, I occasionally looked at Twitter, and based on the vitriol and hatred incited by Trump, I became convinced that he’d win -  my family and friends thought I was crazy, and I wish I’d been proven wrong.  During Trump’s presidency, I felt like the air we all breathed - even in liberal Boulder - was tainted, and woke up each morning with a sense of dread.  But my lung condition prevented me from doing much.

About five or six months before the 2020 election, however, I found out about a postcard group and started participating in Blue Wave Zoom meetings.  Even though we met virtually, I was impressed by the group’s dedication and commitment to our country, as well as how friendly and welcoming the participants were.  After being on lockdown since early March, I found a “no stress” way to make a positive impact: writing postcards.  

Between COVID-19 and the wildfire smoke, I couldn’t leave my home, and when Blue Wave began targeted campaigns, writing postcards became my mission:  I ended up writing more than 9,000 cards for the general election and Georgia runoffs. I also helped Ning and Faith finalize our campaigns by editing and proofreading the pre-printed postcards, instructions for writers, and web content.  This was a blessing:  I was able to help these two wonderful women, who often worked 24/7 to launch campaigns, and also use my editing and advocacy skills toward an important cause.  

While I thank God each and every day that Biden is now our President, I’m disgusted that the polarization in Congress, which reached its zenith during the Trump administration, hasn’t changed.  This makes passage of meaningful legislation, like the For the People Act, difficult at best, impossible at worst.  Plus, the federal judiciary, whose decisions could reverberate for generations, is incredibly disturbing and scary.  It would be easy to again become engulfed by hopelessness and step back from politics, but I believe in what Biden and Harris are trying to accomplish.  And I love that BWPM volunteers remain optimistic and dedicated to making a lasting and positive difference, especially for the most marginalized people in this country.  I’m honored to be part of this amazing group, which has helped me turn my disillusionment into action to protect our democracy.  

“God it’s so painful, when something that’s so close is still so far out of reach.” ~Tom Petty

-Nancy Berman

Back to blog

Contribute to our blog!

We want to learn about your experiences with Blue Wave and political activism.