Yuri’s comments at the Bay Area memorial:
My friendship with Marilyn began over 30 years ago. After she went to prison I heard the stories of her bravery and her commitment to the struggle. She took strong principled stands against imperialism and racism. I began writing her letters and later visiting her in prison.
Even with all that she endured Marilyn didn’t turn bitter, she remained positive. She supported fellow political prisoners. She managed to stay informed and in touch with the fight for just justice all over the world. No bars could restrain her heart.
Marilyn loved red poppies. To Marilyn red poppies were a sign of life; a blaze of color, which Marilyn explained made death and honor one. Delicate, vulnerable, bringing smiles to faces. Marilyn lived for others.
She began her life of activism in Texas, and then moved around without stopping to fight racism, injustices and brutality. She became a leader, but was also a follower and a team player. Marilyn was a fighter. She was courageous. She was humble. She inspired. She never seemed to tire. She was a poppy that would not wilt.
Marilyn managed to provide arms to the Black Panthers. But she also wrote poems, lovely and powerful. She loved humanity. She loved life. She loved peace and quiet. She was a teacher when needed, but also a student. And most of all, she was a sister to all of us.
Today as we celebrate her life we carry her in our hearts. And as we leave here today, let us treat each other with kindness, and compassion. Let us be courageous as we stand against racism and injustice. And let us never give up.
Like Marilyn, let us be humble and powerful and beautiful, so that the seeds of this wild red poppy continue to bloom.