A tribute to the life of Wanda Alston

A friend of the murdered D.C. activist recalls her dedication to the fight for GLBT equality, a legacy that cannot be diminished by her life's sudden and senseless end.

BY Advocate.com Editors

March 18 2005 12:00 AM ET

How do you say
goodbye to someone you’ve known for nearly 20 years,
whose life was such a testament to the things that we should
all strive for and whose untimely death in such a
horribly violent and senseless manner leaves you numb
and speechless? Wanda Alston was more than a devoted community
activist who fought tirelessly for the equality of the
GLBT communities, the rights of women and
youth—she was my comrade and my sister in the
struggle. But most important, she was my friend. I don’t really remember the first time I
met her, but I do remember that we became fast friends
on that first meeting. Wanda and I didn’t talk
on a regular basis, but whenever we did, it was as if
no time had passed. Wanda was one of those friends who you might not
maintain constant contact with, but when something
important happened (or if you needed her), she was
there! I can’t begin to find the words to say goodbye
to my friend. And why should I…? I find it even harder to find the words to
express my rage at the thought of her last minutes of
life. To be in her home, her place of warmth and
safety, and have someone invade that sanctity and force her
into a fight for her life. Wanda was a fighter, but
it’s hard to imagine how frightened and alone
she must have felt. I can only hope that she
didn’t suffer long. But I don’t want to focus
on how Wanda died; I would much rather remember how
she lived! She lived life to the fullest. To my friend I can say only that you are
terribly missed; your zest for life and tremendous
contributions to the struggles of marginalized people
will not be forgotten. To the coward who ripped such a
strong black lesbian and a genuinely good human being
from our midst, I can only hope that your captors will
be kinder to you than you were to my friend. Wanda, I love you, and may you rest in peace! I
know that you’ll continue to fight for the
marginalized and I’ll see you again! Your friend and sister in the Struggle! —Vallerie

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