Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley Records
The Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley were based in Amherst, Massachusetts and chartered in 1980 as a local chapter of the national Gray Panther organization founded in 1970 by Maggie Kuhn. Kuhn was determined to form an activist group with a few friends who, like she, were forced into retirement. Rather than become a special interest group for the elderly, they formed an intergenerational group to promote peace, justice and equality.
For nearly twenty years, the Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley organized local and national initiatives and partnered with other groups in their reform efforts. In addition to their role as the original sponsors of the long-running weekly Amherst Vigil for Peace and Justice, the Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley tackled such issues as fair and affordable housing for people of all ages, nursing home reform, Social Security policy, universal healthcare, safe-sex, and age discrimination. They also worked to improve the everyday life of senior citizens and the community at large, often collaborating with other local organizations to address world peace, environmental concerns, improved child care, educational opportunities, and handicapped accessibility.
The group was administered by a local convener and a steering committee in accordance with national Gray Panther by-laws.
The Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley disbanded in late 1998.