Mason Library remembers the late activist’s birthday with readings, short plays and music
Senators, state representatives, staff, students and other members of the Keene State College community gathered together on Jan. 24 in the Redfern Arts Center Alumni Recital Hall to celebrate the life, mission and one-hundred and third birthday of the late Granny D.
Granny D, or Doris Haddock, was a well-known political activist and New Hampshire native who chose to travel across the country on foot from age 88, with the goal of campaign finance reform in mind.
The celebration featured speakers, a play chronicling the later years of Granny D, a performance and sing along with the band Tattoo and words of appreciation from members of the community.
The celebration opened with a two-act play titled, “Go, Granny, Go” presented by off-Broadway actor Barbara Bates-Smith. The play featured the reading of journal entries and speeches written by Granny D herself, recited by Bates-Smith. The show followed the character of Granny D from the beginning of her activism journey as she realized how she felt “helpless” among wealthy politicians running heavily funded campaigns.
The play followed Granny D as she walked all the way across the United States and gained numerous supporters on the way to her destination in Washington D.C.
Bates-Smith stated, while reading a journal entry of the late Granny D, “When you fully dedicate yourself to a good mission, the floodgates of heaven open up to you.”
Following the presentation, speakers included Senator Molly Kelly, State Rep. Chuck Weed, and the City of Keene’s Mayor Ken Lane, who remembered and spoke words of appreciation for Granny D.
Kelly shared, “I had the pleasure of spending a lot of birthdays with Granny [D] and I was with her on her hundredth as well. She just loved life, she loved what she did and she loved this county and we owe her so many things so to keep her message alive for others.”
Kelly added that she had brought a resolution on behalf of the Senate which recognized Granny D for, “being a trailblazing activist for campaign finance reform.” The resolution presented by Kelly also stated, “To walk across the U.S. in support of this great cause remains legendary. Be it further known that the New Hampshire Senate recognizes Granny D and be it that she remains an inspiration for everyone who cares deeply about how our nation’s campaigns are funded.”
Mayor Ken Lane also spoke words of appreciation for Granny D and her cause while also reading a message, on behalf of Governor Maggie Hassan.
In Hassan’s message, the date of Granny D’s birthday was declared Doris “Granny D” Haddock Day in the state of New Hampshire, while encouraging all present to “remember and celebrate this remarkable woman.”
The celebration was brought to the campus by the KSC Mason Library, PACE (Promoting Active Civic Engagement), and Granny D’s own organization, the Coalition for Open Democracy. Before the presentation concluded, the Mason Library Archivist, Rodney Obien, expressed his appreciation for Granny D as he explained that more of her materials will be archived in the Mason Library.
While Granny D’s walk across the country took place roughly between 1998 and 2000, she also ran for Senate in 2004, but lost to her Republican incumbent Judd Gregg.
Despite her loss for Senate and challenges faced while advocating for campaign reform, Granny D, as portrayed by Bates in the presentation, said that, “Democracy is a running game. You huddle and go back in. You keep on going,”
Pam Bump can be contacted at