Hers was a life of service, of dedication to the good and the true, to decency, to justice. Oak Park lives on as her legacy for it was her vision put into action that made Oak Park what it is today — the most truly American of places. To Bobbie Raymond, it was not status, nor money, nor skin color that mattered, but content of character and worth of soul. Hers was a life of love — true love, love manifested in action. She did not sit on the sidelines. She — always — rolled up her sleeves, jumped in, made things better, forged ahead. She found Oak Park a broken place, of isolation, of looking backward, a place of fear, and she left it whole.
All the experts knew it couldn't be done; white is white and black is black, separate and unequal. Integration was the time between the first black family moving in and the last white family moving out.
Who was she to prove them wrong? Little did they know the dynamo that was Bobbie Raymond. She turned the ship of this state around, harnessing newfound strengths for a future for all. She knew, and lived, that we must never compromise with evil, must never normalize bigotry, must draw a line in the sand of our lives as she did and say hate has no home here. She held nothing back. She gave it her all.
Honored and blessed to have lived in her time, to have basked in the brightness of her soul, we remember her grit, her grace, her courage. It is up to us now to follow the path she made, determined as she was determined, to move always toward the light.
Joe English has lived in Austin, Oak Park's neighbor, for 49 years. For 45 years he was a close friend of Bobbie Raymond.
Answer Book 2019
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