Ruth Bader Ginsburg is considered one of the brilliant legal minds of the century.
As pink ribbons are donned for the month of October, America has lost
two great icons to cancer: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionally known as the Notorious RBG, and superb actor Chadwick Boseman AKA Black Panther, King of Wakanda.
Justice Ginsburg died from pancreatic cancer and Boseman succumbed to colon cancer. October is Cancer Awareness Month and these two giants will be celebrated not only for their exceptional lives but for the dignity and
strength with which they handled and battled the disease.
In 2016, Boseman was diagnosed with stage-three colon cancer and the disease progressed to stage-four. Boseman battled the disease while making films such as: Black Panther, a Marvel comic superhero, and Marshall, a portrayal of Thurgood Marshall’s early years as an attorney before he became the first Black Supreme Court Justice. Boseman underwent many treatments and surgeries as he starred in these monumental pictures.
Black Panther became a cultural phenomenon. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, a first for a superhero movie. It is also one
of the highest-grossing films of all-time, according to multiple news sources.
RBG displayed the will of a cat (nine lives) for the past few years as the Justice went in and out of the hospital for various treatments. The 87-year-old would bounce back seemingly stronger than ever. She toured college campuses around the country, sharing her wisdom with the next generation of students. RBG is considered one of the brilliant legal minds of the century.
She is a feminist icon. She was married and mother of a child while going to Columbia Law School. She graduated and worked as a law professor in a male-dominated system. She successfully challenged unequal pay for women. And she rose to the highest court in the land. The small-statured woman with her fashionable collars worn on her judge’s robe was a fierce supporter of equal rights, social justice and the Constitution. She won many cases and lost some, but her dissenting opinions are also held to be legal brilliance that would require intensive study in the years to come,
said some legal scholars remembering this Justice.
Even as the country continued to reel under social unrest, possible voter suppression, healthcare and women’s reproductive rights challenges and a possible contested presidential race, RBG’s death-bed wish was that the next Justice’s appointment be delayed until after the presidential election,
reported her granddaughter. She did not get her wish. But this act reflected her ongoing concern for the country and the pending legal challenges.
Boseman, before his death, was also active in this coming election. Some of
his last Twitter posts were in support of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s #whenweallvote campaign. He also celebrated the history-making choice of Kamala Harris as the Democratic Party’s Vice Presidential candidate, according to media sources.
These extraordinary people have left their mark on the world and have impacted many people’s lives, be it with important rulings or portrayals of powerful people who help move America forward. They both have set a bright standard.
As I watched their lives from a cramped cell, I learned from them that you
may be suffering through something, but that doesn’t stop the work that needs to be done. You go through your battles with dignity and strength.
San Quentin’s Annual AVON Breast Cancer Walk this October was canceled
due to the impact of COVID-19. The Cancer Walk is a time when the incarcerated, administration, staff and volunteers share one focus: honoring loved ones who have survived or died from the deadly disease. That honor is symbolized by the pink and white shirts of the visitors, the pink ribbons worn by the incarcerated on gray baseball caps or white T-shirts, and the photos of loved ones displayed on tables or held in hands announcing who they are walking for.
The powerful speeches by survivors of the disease and the check donated from the money that gets raised— that reflects our San Quentin community. It doesn’t matter what your race, gender, sexual orientation or political
affiliation is or if you are free or in prison. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. So when you can, get tested.