a brief personal memorial by co-worker Gail M. Koehler
I can't think of April Browning, who passed suddenly April 7th, without remembering her commitment to her family. The ones that come to my mind might be different from yours: her son, Elijah, her partner John, her mom Janie and sister Amanda and dad Bob—because I know there were yet other aunts and nephews and cousins and uncles who were part of her extended family — and that they all were a part of her universe of those closest and most dear to her.
What's remarkable about that personal note is that she brought such a similar commitment to the issues of justice she was so passionate about. Every person who was dealt a raw deal, she felt for and worked for. Every injustice she saw, she worked to change in the ways that she could. I never heard her voice shake when she spoke truth. What I remember about April was her passion for that truth.
When I was looking at photos to share with her family, I was reminded of an action from the holiday season—during CKCPJ's "Looking for a Home" Posada Procession last Christmas,
April spoke to the need for a living wage. Here she is pictured with a megaphone in hand, which many of us remember as utterly characteristic. Spending some time on the Facebook tributes to her I see a long line of pictures of her in action in public spaces, speaking out, shouldering her contribution to protests, rallies, speak outs, community events that contribute to our shared sense of holding those in power accountable.
I think of April, too, as a student: the kind of student whose study of fairness and the righting of wrongs is activated and renewed on a continuing basis. When a news story broke, I could count on April's quick response, her immediate mastery of the many issues involved, and on her clear articulation of key points. That she managed all this and everything else too constantly amazed me.
As someone with two of my own boys, she and I shared our struggles to be the best mothers we could to our children. I valued every conversation we shared in this part of our lives, too. We reminded each other that so much of our commitment to a more just and equitable world was based in our desire to give our children the best possible world our efforts could produce.
What kept us from being overwhelmed was our conviction that all who love justice are stronger together; that our banding together provides strength we don't have on our own. April's great generosity was that she helped us all remember this, no matter the situation, no matter the size the task before us, or the wrong that needed righting: she stayed firm, and focused.
There are so many things that will remind me of April: I think of her strong voice leading the Occupy Lexington chant "The people! united! will never be defeated!" Here's to all of us remembering April when defeat threatens. Her commitment and willingness to lend us her strength is something we can all carry forward.
We will miss you, April, forever. But we were so fortunate to have marched with you and known you and your love for your family and truth and justice. Thank you.
This note was published just before the Saturday, April 12th tribute and memorial to April held in Woodland Park, a favorite of April's. The author is looking forward to hearing many of April's family and friends offer their own memories and legacies from April.