Local anthropologist/feminist activist passes away

When I interned at the Post-Gazette in college, one of my assignments was an obituary of an Oakmont doctor, T.J. Ferguson. I was really nervous about the assignment because it’s a tall order to sum up someone’s life, especially who you’ve never met.

But it turned out to be one of my favorite assignments. By the end, I was wishing I HAD met Dr. Ferguson.

That’s how I feel about this woman, whose obit ran in the PG today: Carol McAllister.

She was a professor at Pitt, which is how I first noticed the item at all. But wow — it sounds like she did some truly amazing things:

  • director of the University of Pittsburgh Women’s Studies Program and was active with the Thomas Merton Center, the Women’s Resource Center for Greater Pittsburgh and the Social Justice Action Team of the First United Methodist Church, Pittsburgh
  • work with Early Head Start, a component of Head Start which helps low-income mothers and families prepare sooner for the health and education of their children.
  • gave the children in these communities disposable cameras and told them to chronicle their lives. Her work and their photos were published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2005.
  • organized a conference with speakers from Rwanda, Israel and Canada that focused on the roles that women can play in conflict resolution and rebuilding war-torn communities.

I am so sorry for her family’s loss, a loss for the community and world as well. And, I find her story truly inspiring. I would be proud to do half as much in my own life.

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