On May 24th, 2021, our comrade, friend and former Nevada Cure Director (Secretary) Natalie Smith passed away from breast cancer.
I wanted to write about Natalie, because she meant so much to so many. She was a teacher and some called her a mentor, she was a fierce advocate and she was a writer. She was so much more than what we can write, and her energy lives in all the people and issues she touched.
Natalie once wrote: “My career was spent teaching high school in the 2nd biggest high school in Los Angeles, where I advocated for my poor/working class/immigrant students when they were being abused as well. Yes, that work made life a little harder than if I would have just sat back and watched the abuse. But it was worth it.”
I remember Natalie as an enthusiastic and driven person, giving all her strength to combating injustices, fighting for and with people who are marginalized. I got to know Natalie in 2009, when we were both fighting – together with prisoners and others – to get the dreadful and inhumane, cruel lack of medical care inside Nevada’s prisons to the attention of those who are supposed to represent the people. It was an ongoing fight.
In 2011, after John Witherow was released on parole, Nevada Cure was re-established by John and Natalie, with a new board of directors, organized to challenge the many human rights abuses that we also started gathering and disseminating on our website.
Natalie among many correspondences and other activities, transcribed many hundreds of testimonies of misuses of power, abuses, violence of guards to prisoners, which were published on the website, testifying what is actually going on inside the prisons.
There are many people Natalie reached out to, and so many things she undertook in her life, I can only write about my own experience with her, for me this means they were good and just things, brought to the world with her passion for justice.
In 2016 we met for the first and last time, when I was invited to stay at Natalie and John’s house. It was a wonderful time, she loved the California national wildlife parks, and the beautiful house and surroundings.
And I was lucky to experience her enthusiasm firsthand. She was also very proud of her children and grandchildren.
Natalie’s memory resides in power and strength.