Part of The Action
River Park activist still fighting the good fight
By Jessica Laskey
Billie Hamilton was born to be part of the action. The River Park resident has spent her life educating people and fighting for causes. At 93, she’s going strong.
“I’ve always been an activist,” Hamilton says.
Her history proves the point. She’s a member of the Sacramento chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and has been involved with the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, American Friends Service Committee and National Organization for Women.
When Hamilton wasn’t marching or getting friends involved in various causes, she taught elementary school for more than 40 years in New York, Indiana, Michigan and California. The avid musician has directed choirs and taught the recorder to kids and adults. She sees teaching and activism as intertwined interests.
“Looking at what I’ve done all my life, everything seems to point to educating others,” she says.
When she came to California, Hamilton taught at a private Quaker school near Grass Valley and became deeply involved in the Quaker faith community with Sacramento Friends Meeting.
At the time, she was keenly interested in going to Washington to lobby congressional representatives to reduce Pentagon spending and address issues affecting the poor. Eight years ago, she realized her dream with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change solutions. The Sacramento chapter is one of 587 around the world.
“One of my friends was involved with CCL and invited me to come to a meeting,” Hamilton says. “I met Jennifer Wood (Sacramento chapter leader at the time) and she said they needed somebody to go to Washington, D.C., to lobby. I knew nothing about the group, but I thought this is my opportunity to go to Washington, so I took the challenge. I found it really exciting.”
Hamilton has traveled to Washington with CCL four times to lobby for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307). She has served on the group’s advisory board as treasurer and liaison to Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento). Prior to the pandemic, she attended CCL conferences that left her with “a wonderful feeling of hope and love and care and kindness” thanks to the nonprofit’s culture of respect, which fits with her Quaker beliefs.
The acronym for the Quaker Testimonies “is SPICES—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship,” Hamilton says. “I can apply all those things to CCL. They respect, they don’t bully, they care about people and the relationship of building political will.”
Post-pandemic, Hamilton is looking forward to resuming her full schedule of CCL conferences, singing in the choir at Sacred Heart, performing and teaching recorder with groups that include the Sacramento Recorder Society (which she founded in 1987) and singing protest songs at marches as part of the international social justice activist organization Raging Grannies.
“I never got depressed during the pandemic because I’m so involved in my interests,” Hamilton says. “Doing something all the time makes me hopeful.”
For more information, visit sacramentoccl.org.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.