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Carrie Barefoot Dickerson Dies at 89

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 15, 2006) Like many people drawn into activism, Carrie Dickerson started out as a mother with questions. When plans were announced to build a nuclear reactor near her home in Oklahoma, "Aunt Carrie", as she came to be known, wanted to know more about nuclear energy. After poring through documents sent her by the Atomic Energy Commission (now the NRC), she needed no further convincing of the dangers and began a nine-year battle in May 1973 to stop the Black Fox nuclear plant.

She succeeded, but only at enormous personal cost to her and her family's livelihood. She and her husband Robert, both farmers, lost their entire savings, their nursing home and almost the family farm as they fought through the law courts, at hearings and sometimes in rallies on the street. Along the way, Carrie founded her own organization, Citizens' Action for Safe Energy.

In her landmark book, "Aunt Carrie's War Against Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant," Dickerson, who never expected to become an activist, describes her hesitation in putting her story down on paper rather than simply getting on with her life: "Yet overriding my personal feelings was a feeling of obligation to society. I have a responsibility to the people who helped me stop Black Fox, to the victims of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, to the victims of other nuclear tragedies, including those in our own state of Oklahoma, and to potential victims of possible future nuclear disasters. Because of the widespread effects of the Chernobyl disaster, we now know that the problems of nuclear power can affect everyone, that there is no safe place. There are no fence lines, no boundaries, no safeguards, to contain radioactive fallout."

She remained active right up to the end. She authored a children's book "Harvesting the Wind: Fourteen Centuries of Wind Power" which was published just this year. Her friends started the Carrie Dickerson Foundation in her honor which awarded NIRS a generous grant recently. She even tabled for NIRS at a Bonnie Raitt concert from her wheelchair last year.

She died in her sleep in the same nursing home she had sold years ago. She was truly an inspiration to us all and we at the NIRS office greatly enjoyed our frequent telephone conversations with her.
In honor of her brave and benevolent spirit NIRS will be naming a lifetime achievement award after her.

Harvesting the Wind is available at: