RESISTANCE CINEMA Presents “THE LADY IS A FIGHTING LION” A Tattooed Egg Production, Produced and Directed by Laura Collins, (2011, 47 min)
WHEN: Sunday March 4, 2012 1:15 pm
WHERE: Community Church NY, Gallery Room 28 East 35th st. btwn Park & Madison
ADMISSION: Free, donations appreciated
SPECIAL GUESTS: MARIE RUNYON & filmmaker LAURA COLLINS
“THE LADY IS A FIGHTING LION” is a documentary film about the life of an extraordinary woman, Marie M. Runyon. Now in her late 90’s, she has been politically active in New York City for over fifty years.
Born in the Blue Hills of North Carolina, Marie begins to understand the issue of racism through an incident at the tender age of eight. On to college, she develops her life long inclination to ask questions and challenge why things are the way they are.
In 1946 she moves to New York with a job as copyreader at the New York Post. She eventually marries her boss and has a child. After a divorce she is on her own and her life as a political activist begins. She has a job with the ACLU and is involved in the emerging Civil Rights movement. But it is in 1961 that the course of Marie’s life is changed dramatically. She receives an eviction notice from her landlord. In this case her landlord was none other than Columbia University.
Marie rallies the tenants in the building and they begin a battle against the University that will last more than 40 years. In the end, Columbia throws in the towel and names the building situated at 130 Morningside Drive, “Marie Runyon Court”.
Her clashes with Columbia University also include her marching in solidarity with the students of the 1960’s who staged an historic series of protests and sit-ins. She is there in the thick of it and for the whole decade she is thrust into the raging politics of the time. Her activism brings her into contact with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Pete Seegar, Benjamin Spock, Leonard Bernstein and Ossie Davis and many more. She and Davis organized fundraisers for the Black Panther Party legal defense which became the “scandal” of the town.
In the 1970’s Runyon has a brief stint in the New York State Assembly but has problems because of her independence and unwillingness to be a “team player”. In 1977 she co-founds the Harlem Restoration Project in which she pours an enormous amount of energy dealing with all varieties of housing issues for poor people. When the Iraq war broke out it was not surprising that Marie would be involved in protests and in 2005 she is arrested along with others from the Granny Peace Brigade when they try to enlist at the Army recruitment Center in Times Square.
Her current outward appearance as a fragile old lady with a head of wavy white hair and a Southern accent captivates people, but her outspoken, feisty, take it to the streets grass roots brand of activism lies underneath her surface appearance. Her life is chronicled on a wall in her home which is covered with a huge number of the activist buttons she has accumulated over the years.
Marie M. Runyon continues to fight the good fight and inspire all who are around her.