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Cleta Bradwell on “Good Trouble” and Book Club Reunions

Cleta Bradwell knows the value of an open conversation. Whether it was in her work registering people to vote in the Civil Rights Movement or in one of her four diverse book clubs (including Senior Planet’s own virtual book club), Cleta uses interpersonal connections to get into “good trouble.”

What motivated you to join Senior Planet’s Book Club?

“I love to read. But I come for the discussions where I get to hear different interpretations that I did not consider. I have a big problem with people who don’t know how to have a discussion if you disagree with the other person’s opinion. That’s something I like about Senior Planet’s Book Club; the fact that all the members are open to discussion.

Beyond meeting new people, the Book Club helped you connect with someone from your past, right?

“Yes! We were talking about a person* who was very active in the Civil Rights Era and one of the other ladies in Senior Planet’s Book Club said “Oh, I know his sister!” and I shouted out, “me too!”

“She put me back in touch with her and we’ve been corresponding over email since! It was over twenty years since we’d lost touch.

* Senior Planet was asked to keep the identity of this person anonymous.

What was your involvement in the Civil Rights Movement?

“I was very, very active when I was in college. I was involved in a voter registration drives in a small towns and now I want to continue to do “good trouble.”

“I’ve been sitting for a minute but there is so much going on now that reminds me of the Civil Rights struggle. Maintaining voting rights is a big issue for me and also health issues in the African American community.

“I want to be a part of the solution and if I just sit quietly then I’m a part of the problem”

“I want to be a part of the solution and if I just sit quietly then I’m a part of the problem. So I’m going to be getting in some trouble! I always intend to speak truth to power. How I do it? I’m not a marcher. I know marching has its place but in my opinion it’s like a pressure valve. It alleviates the steam but doesn’t get anything done.

“Because if you stay in your own stew, how do you know somebody else’s stew won’t taste better than yours?”

How can place like Book Club where you get a group of people who might not interact otherwise help bring about change?

“I still believe that one-on-one, grass roots, is the way to go. You learn to listen and it helps you to process another person’s thought process. Even if you don’t need to come to an agreement – if you just process what they are saying, it helps open your mind.

“Because if you stay in your own stew, how do you know somebody else’s stew won’t taste better than yours?

Last question: What does aging with attitude mean to you?

“Oh, I wish you could see me snap. I want to stay up on my feet and I may not be able to do it in high heels anymore, but I still want to turn heads!”



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