This scarf of New York landmarks including the Statue of Liberty belonged to my grandmother, Harry Edmonds’ middle daughter Margaret. Sadly, even though she had grown up at International House and was surrounded by Harry and Florence’s ethos of tolerance, my memories of her are of someone who had very set views on who she would and would not tolerate, to the point of being uncomfortable and embarrassing. Her influence on me, if any, has been that I determined to be curious and interested in people no matter their background, religion or country of origin. I am however curious about what it is that either encourages us to be tolerant or to choose to be fixed in our views. I will never know what the switch was in my grandmother, but I do believe that International House allows for that exploration and hopefully residents are touched with a new level of tolerance as they go out into the world.
Joe Lurie kindly shared his informal history of I-House Berkeley with me again last week and as I was reading it I was struck by the piece about an amazing lady Delilah Beasley who was a black journalist on the Oakland Tribune in the 1930s. There was a great deal of protest at the House being built and the idea of having somewhere where people of all nationalities and races and both men and women living was very controversial. Delilah was never a resident of the House but she turned up when there was a big protest (c800 people) and passionately advocated the need to let the House be built. She also took on the local property developers who were unhappy about the House going up. She was in my view a champion of tolerance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delilah_L._Beasley