Age hasn’t stopped Anne Olson from remaining extremely active in her Atlanta community.
The 80-year-old is being honored by Charis Books and More (Charis), a feminist organization where Olson has volunteered for 16 years.
This month, Charis named Olson as its “July Book Curator.” Olson had to make a list of 15 of her favorite books. This list is placed at the front of the bookstore for customers to come in and view.
At the top of the list is her all-time favorite book, “Dog Whistle Politics,” by Ian Haney Lopez. The book tells the story of coded language against race, which is the practice that politicians use to send out a message that they know will be completely perceived differently to their audience.
Olson, who previously served on Charis Board of Directors, is an asset not only as an avid book lover but as an advocate for Charis.
“Anne is one of our best cheerleaders,” Angela Gabriel, co-owner of Charis, said. “She attends a variety of our programs, purchases all of her books through Charis and brings people [into the bookstore].”
Gabriel, who has known Olson for 15 years, said Olson also is being honored because of her extensive work as an activist.
Elizabeth Anderson, executive director of Charis Circle, said she has been inspired the eight years has known Olson because Olson continues to fight for her beliefs, despite her age.
“She is a humanist and is interested in the commonalities between people, instead of the differences,” Anderson said. “She serves as a reminder to me that aging doesn't mean giving up on your radicalism or your ideals. It can, in fact, mean growing into yourself as an activist and continuing to learn and change. I am inspired by Anne's willingness to push and grow.”
After she retired in 1999, Olson was inspired by her diverse group of friends to begin pursuing knowledge for human rights at the National Center for Human Rights Education. When asked why she decided to offer her efforts to human rights, Olson responded that mentioning is something that everyone can relate to, think about and discuss.
“Human is universal,” she said. “Everyone is a human being, except for corporations, of course. Ha.”
Olson has participated in various aspects of the movement, from her assistance in the implementation of Poor People’s Day for people of color to advocating for women’s reproductive rights. She also advocates for the lesbian and gay community, disabled citizens, classism and much more.
Olson also became a trainer and facilitator for Project South, aimed at helping people of color as high school students learn life lessons that they wouldn’t necessarily receive in school.
A human rights trainer, Olson is co-founder of Human Rights of Atlanta, an organization that does training at colleges such as Agnes Scott College in Atlanta.
Aside from her days as an activist, Olson has tapped into her lifelong dream of journalism and serves as editor-in-chief for Dancing Fox, a newsletter for her community East Lake Commons. Olson credits honing her writing skills to her deceased predecessor from whom she inherited the newsletter.
A mother of one boy and one girl, and a grandmother of two boys and one girl, Olson finds joy in watching her grandchildren grow up and wonder what it would like helping to raise them as they get older.
This friendly neighbor also finds delight in gathering with the people who live within her community to have outings.
Olson prides herself on being outgoing and passionate, and Gabriel agrees.
“She’s very happy, exuberant and passionate,” Gabriel said. “She’s an amazing person. I feel like I can learn so much from her.”
Red, white and blue never looked so good. Members of the Bruce Street Senior Center in Lithonia marked the country’s independence with a fashion show and ice cream social on July 3.
Seniors strutted their stuff on the runway, dawning the colors of the U.S. flag. While on the runway, contestants also cut a rug to singer-songwriter Pharell’s smash hit, “Happy.” At the end of the fashion show, first, second and third place winners were given gift cards for celebrating America in their own style.
First place was awarded to Elvera Winston, who is in her 60’s. Second place was given to Helen Thompson, who is also in her 60’s. George Humphrey, the only male in the competition, took home third place. Humphrey is in his 80’s.
But everybody was a winner because all in attendance got to enjoy some red, white and blue ice cream treats to help beat the summer heat, organizers said.
Center manager Erica Davis says the fashion show and ice cream social was a hit and will officially be an annual event at the center.
“This is our first time doing something for the 4th of July. Our seniors thoroughly enjoyed it. The seniors say they want something very similar, very soon,” said Davis, who has served as manager since December. “We are all pleased with how the event went. We didn’t want to do a major program, but today turned out to be something really special.”
The Bruce Street Senior Center has several events and programs for the young at heart. For more information on those programs, call 770-484-8759.