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Hollywood Reporter: Norman Lear’s Legacy of Inclusive Storytelling: “He Was a Conscience for America”

First published in the Hollywood Reporter

People For Founder Norman Lear delivering a speech
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People For Executive Vice President Marge Baker reflects on People For Founder Norman Lear's life and legacy.

Norman Lear was woke before “woke” became a derogatory smear. He was woke before it was briefly appropriated in mainstream parlance as a liberal badge of honor. Before he died on Tuesday at the age of 101, Norman Lear was one of the few people alive who entirely preceded the term, which can trace its origins to as far back as 1931 as a warning among African Americans to stay vigilant for racist threats.


Lear’s passion for social equity and justice led him to extend his reach beyond his day job as a television producer. In 1981, he founded the civic engagement nonprofit People for the American Way, an organization that continues to work to defend progressive ideals in democracy. “I think there’s a thread through all of Norman’s professional life,” says executive vice president Marge Baker. “His work in entertainment was based on his real concern about the frightening divisiveness and intolerance in our society, and he used his artistry and genius to help people understand what was going on. He thought if he could make them laugh, they would listen.”

Read the full article at the Hollywood Reporter.