Happy birthday to the Gray Panther Party's inspired folkie, Malvina Reynolds. She was a Socialist/activist singer-songwriter who, along with her husband, was involved in left-wing causes and labor organizing for decades. She was also a writer, guitarist, social worker, feminist, civil & gay rights activist and mother.
Born into a Jewish family in San Francisco, Malvina Milder was denied a high school diploma by her school due to her parents opposition to WW1. In the '20s she played violin in a dance band before marrying labor activist Bud Reynolds in '34 and giving birth to future musician Nancy Schimmel.
Being a Jewish Socialist woman during the Depression, she found it difficult to get teaching jobs so she started writing as a columnist for Socialist newspapers. In the '40s her and her husband would start hangin' with Pete Seeger, performing at rallies and protests. In the '50s she studied music theory. She wrote several sings that would become hits for other artists, including the satirical "Little Boxes", which was a hit for Seeger in '63 (and featured on the recent TV show Weeds) and her 1957 lullaby "Morningtown Ride" was a hit for The Seekers in '66.
Her songs have been recorded by The Searchers, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Marianne Faithfull, Harry Belafonte, The Limelighters and more. She would perform alongside Country Joe, led sit-ins, participated in public boycotts, sang for causes, wrote children's music and recorded several albums for Columbia, Folkways and her own Cassandra label.
She became a member and booster of Maggie Kuhn's Gray Panthers Party founded in 1970, with an agenda that opposed ageism and was supportive of civil rights and feminist causes. In later years she composed songs for Sesame Street, as well as playing Kate on the show. She continued to tour and sing right until the very end.