Dressed in stereotypical little-old-lady fashion with flowered hats and aprons, Joan Kelly and other grandmothers from the Sacramento area chapter of The Raging Grannies, engage in social protest in song. Sung to the melodies of well-known show tunes and patriotic songs, their lyrics convey a political message, such as those sung at a recent homeless march.
“We try to do it with love and humor,” said Kelly, who says the 18-member group – officially known as a gaggle – shows its support at local demonstrations promoting peace, social justice and environmental sustainability. Kelly says some of the “grannies” were once professional singers, while others sing off-key due to deafness.
“You don’t have to be a good singer to join our group,” says the retired preschool teacher. “We have grannies in wheelchairs, grannies with canes, hearing aides and the works.”
Kelly said the oldest member is 90.
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The Raging Grannies is an international nonprofit organization formed in 1987 in Canada. Kelly started the Sacramento area chapter 18 months ago with sponsorship from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
At 80, Kelly says she has been a political activist since the Vietnam War era. “It’s hard for me to do the long marches now,” she says. “But I’m still politically active and that’s been important for me all my life.”
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