EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this tribute to a veteran Berkeley activist is her daughter-in-law.
Longtime Berkeley and Mendocino area activist for social change, Anne Weymouth Deirup, died Oct. 30 from cancer. Her understanding of the need for change, her strong principles and her organizing skills made her a mentor for many others.
She was born in 1918 on the Stanford campus into a family of scientists. Her parents were Frank Weymouth, head of the Physiology department at Stanford, and Alice Jenkins Weymouth, a scientific illustrator.
She married Torben Deirup in 1937. They soon moved to Berkeley where they attended UC. Anne started out in Architecture, and graduated with a degree in city planning.
Her main interest in life was pursuing and promoting social change, and in city planning, she saw the potential to facilitate change. After a stint working in a city planning department, she became disillusioned with how decisions were made. She became a draftsperson and worked for many engineering firms over the years.
She and Torben had four children: Caroline Grimes, Karl, Paul and Nancy Deirup. Karl died in 1972.
Anne and Torb were active in union organizing and the beginnings of the civil rights movement.
Anne was very active in Berkeley politics, especially focusing on school improvements. Her involvement in Berkeley public schools started when Caroline was a child. Caroline found racist books in the school library, and together they would work to get those books out of the library. She continued to do whatever she could to promote equality in the school system and was very active in the movement to integrate the schools.
During the 1950s, Anne was involved in civil rights struggles including integrating Woolworth’s in Berkeley. She was one of the last witnesses in the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in San Francisco, and her speech to the committee was broadcast in the Rotunda of City Hall and over to Civic Center Plaza, where crowds of students were gathered.
Here is an excerpt from her testimony:
“I consider the members of this committee to be dedicated people, and I would very much like to cooperate with this committee. But…I’m even more convinced that you’re dedicated to the destruction of the freedom of thought, the freedom to speak and of assembly and of association. You are dedicated to the preservation of white supremacy and of segregation and of lynchings.
“I, too, am a dedicated, principled individual, dedicated to the preservation of democracy, freedom of thought and association, equality and dignity, for all our people! I am dedicated to the promotion of better education for all of our children. And for peace!”
As the students became agitated, the riot police came and turned fire hoses on the crowd, including Caroline and Karl, who were washed down the steps of City Hall.
During the 60s and 70s, she was involved with many progressive political campaigns, including the campaign to elect Louise Stoll to the School Board. She and Torben visited China and Mongolia on a Teachers’ Union tour in 1972.
Anne was also active in the Gray Panthers and Women for Peace. She was a lifelong feminist.
In 1980 she moved to Mendocino, where she continued her activism in the Gray Panthers, Save the Redwoods and other groups. She toured the Soviet Union with the Gray Panthers Peace Cruise.
She is survived by Torben Deirup, Caroline and Joe Grimes, Paul Deirup and Cameron White, Nancy Deirup and Jon Haagen-Smit, and grandchildren Michael Pozos and Brenda Santos, Nathan and Anja Grimes, Kirsten and Keith Deirup, Tora and Sonja Haagen-Smit, and Tristan Peterson, and great-grandchildren Miguel, Marcello and Mireya Pozos and Tassilo Grimes.
Her many years and experience in various struggles made her a role model. Her friend Mattie Scott wrote in a poem about her:
Gentle warrior: fierce friend…
Early in the morning singing your song of justice
And late at night when the many strong voices are spent,
Still we hear your music:
We will hear it in our dreams.
There will be a memorial service in Mendocino on Sunday, Nov. 30, and another gathering in Berkeley on Jan. 11. Friends should call (707)937-4310 or (510)526-2939 for information.