An Out-Loud Rendezvous

Juanita Willmon-Goggins, 1934-2010

Do you know Juanita Goggins? If you’re black, female or interested in the history of American politics you should. If you don’t, you’ll learn about her posthumously here.

A native South Carolinian, after teaching in the school system, she entered politics in 1972 and was the first black woman to represent her state at the Democratic national convention. Not long after that, she was appointed to the U.S.’s civil rights commission. Two years later, the trailblazer beat a white man, winning a seat in the South Carolina legislature in Columbia. She said she was headed to Columbia to be a legislator, not just fill a “black spot in the House.”

After her political career, Goggins vigorously served on the South Carolina’s health and environment department, budgeting, finding funding for sick-cell anaemia research, and she fought to reform the educational system.

After all she did–these things only name a few–the 75-year-old became a recluse and on March 3 was found dead in her home of hypothermia. She died a lonely death. It wasn’t until about two weeks after she passed away, coroners expect, that she was found wrapped in blankets in her house that had no heat or electricity.

Members of Goggins’ family suspect this strong woman battled dementia and that she’d consistently put more distance between herself and those around her.

Isn’t it amazing how one’s life can be marked with such grandeur and impact but death be so quiet and virtually unheralded? The sentiment that it’s less about the dates on either side of the dash that separate your birth and date year but what you do with the dash proves to be profound in a situation such as this.

Maybe death isn’t all that important. And Goggins death has caused me to question rather or not I have a preoccupation with it. So I have decided that at the end of my life, I’d like to look back on it and be able to say, as Countee Cullen did, “I had a rendevzous with life.” If you’ve done nothing with your life, your death–quiet or otherwise–means little.

Rest in peace, Juanita Willmon-Goggins.


~ by MsInklination on March 15, 2010.

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