Activist dies after stroke at protest resisting the further regulation of women’s bodies and deprivation of women’s healthcare
July 13, 2013
Anne McAfee, a longtime Democratic activist who suffered a stroke during Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster during an abortion debate on June 25, passed away Saturday morning at her home in Austin. She was 82.
Born Anne Elizabeth Castleberry on Oct. 15, 1930, McAfee was a lifelong Austinite and became interested in politics as a child, volunteering at age 13 on Minnie Fisher Cunningham’s 1944 gubernatorial campaign.
In the following decades, McAfee worked on a variety of issues from the advocating for the environment, to protesting against nuclear atmospheric testing, to protecting Barton Springs, to pushing for voting rights, Susan McAfee Raybuck, her daughter, said.
“She was very active in trying to make sure people of all races and colors could vote, even while the poll tax was in effect,” Raybuck said. “She was very opposed to anything that kept people from being able to exercise their right to vote.”
She was also heavily involved in civil rights issues and was an anti-war activist.
She was also passionate about women’s issues, which brought her to the Capitol on June 25 for Davis’ filibuster, Raybuck said. It was not immediately apparent that night to people around her that she suffered a stroke, Raybuck said. But after bystanders realized she was ill, she was taken by ambulance to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where she underwent surgery.
Following the procedure to remove a blood clot from her brain, McAfee was alert and talking, but she suffered a heart attack a few days later, Raybuck said.
She became unable to speak sometimes, but she used sign language to spell out “I love you,” and “How lucky I am,” Raybuck said.
While she was in the hospital, she received hundreds of cards and letters from people that had been at the Capitol when she had the stroke. Raybuck said that their favorite was one written on the back of a protest placard. It said: “You are a badass.”
McAfee’s health continued to decline before she ultimately passed away. Friends and family were by her side.
“Activism was just as much a part of her as the color of her hair and her big smile,” Watson said. “It was just who she was.”
A public memorial will be held for Anne McAfee at 2-6 p.m. July 20 at Green Pastures, her childhood home, located at 811 W. Live Oak St. in Austin. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Safe Place and Planned Parenthood.