Florida students reclaim passion of Stoneman Douglas
CHICAGO -- It would, no doubt, repulse Marjory Stoneman Douglas to know that an unthinkable shooting at a high school bearing her moniker has sullied her good name.
But we can't let that horror recast such a remarkable woman's legacy -- she was far too accomplished to sacrifice her name to the worst possible bad news.
Marjory Stoneman was born in 1890 to an entrepreneur father and a concert-violinist mother. A child of affluence, she attended Wellesley College, where she majored in English, became involved in the women's suffrage movement and graduated in 1912.
Let's put this into context: In 1910, of all the bachelor's degrees earned by the tiny percentage of the population who was even able to attend college, only 23 percent were earned by women.
After graduating (and marrying, thus adding on the "Douglas"), Stoneman Douglas, at the ripe old age of 25, started writing for The Herald, the newspaper which would eventually become the Miami Herald, where her father had become the publisher.
From there she went on to serve in the American Red Cross in France, Belgium, Italy and the Balkans during World War I.
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Upon her return, Stoneman Douglas got rid of the husband (though she kept his name) and began editing at The Herald. There she progressed from assistant editor to writing editorials and eventually editing a literary column called ''The Galley.''
Another bit of context: Given journalism's current terrible state of gender equity in the leadership of newsrooms and opinion sections, this would be impressive even today.
From there, Stoneman Douglas amassed countless prizes, awards and other honors for her short-story writing, novels, a play, nonfiction books and articles in support of her passion for conservation of the Florida Everglades and other natural habitats.
In a 1952 review of her book "Road to the Sun," the New York Times critic Frank G. Slaughter said, "Marjory Stoneman Douglas knows South Florida and the Everglades intimately. ... Her genius, however, goes much deeper than the ability to evoke a particular setting. Her description of a region that is neither earth nor water will give the reader a sense of having visited the 'Glades in person."