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Maggie Kuhn writing Gray Panthers on chalk board

Listen to the Sidedoor podcast "Wrinkled Radicals" from the Smithsonian Institution

When Maggie Kuhn was forced to retire from the job she loved at age 65, her colleagues gave her a sewing machine as a parting gift. Outraged, she shut the sewing machine in a closet and, instead, stitched together the first-ever movement against ageism in the U.S. The Gray Panthers would galvanize gray haired citizenry and youth alike to challenge the way Americans think about aging.



Katherine Ott, curator and historian in the Division of Medicine and Science at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History


Emily Krichbaum, founding director for the Center for Girls' and Young Women's Leadership at Columbus School for Girls and scholar of women’s history


Paul Nathanson, founder and former executive director of Justice in Aging (formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center), a national advocacy group for the elderly poor


Jack Kupferman, president of Gray Panthers NYC

The Gray Panthers Movement

From 1974...

The Gray Panther movement was initiated in 1970 when Maggie Kuhn and five of her colleagues experienced forced retirement and looked for new ways to address social issues which had concerned them throughout their careers.


Today the Gray Panthers can best be described simply as a rapidly growing network of people old and young drawn together by deeply felt concerns for human liberation and social change. The old and young live outside the mainstream of society. Agism – discrimination against persons on the basis of chronological age – deprives both groups of power and influence. The Gray Panthers believe that the old and the young have much to contribute to make our society more just and humane, and that each needs to reinforce the other in goals, strategy, and action.

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