Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

In Memory of Pete Seeger


Pete Seeger and President Jon StraussPete Seeger and President Jon Strauss

On September 20th this past fall, Manhattanville College had the incredible good fortune of having folksinger Pete Seeger come and speak (and sing!). Pete’s visit was made possible by Connie Hogarth, Director of the Center for Social Action, and for those of us who were privileged enough to be there that night, it was a very special evening. With MFA Director Mark Nowak as emcee, we witnessed a timeless legend in action, whose musical talent and life philosophy inspired our students and community.

Seeger sang and spoke, and sang again, inviting the audience to join in, reminding us all of the joy of community singing, and of the importance of storytelling, of history, and the power of words and song. He ended the evening with a recitation of the Gettysburg Address from memory, reminding us all that November would be the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s most famous speech. One forgot in that magic hour, that our guest was 94 years old.

Pete Seeger died yesterday. And as we remember him, and that evening, what remains is his optimism – his unfailing cheerful vision about what lies ahead. He did not speak of this era with discouragement. Instead, he exhorted us to see the positive. “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” Pete Seeger did that – his legacy to us is that he invited us to join him.

Jean Strauss
First Lady, Manhattanville College

Here is a video clip of Pete Seeger’s Manhattanville visit: