Meetings at Maddenfest: Mover & Shaker-Norma Hodges-Murphy

Firey Norma Hodges set Brentwood High School buzzing in 1941

Norma Hodges-Murphy is a never-give-up lady. She spent her high school day making a mark on Brentwood then went on to make a mark on the world around her. Her laughter is contagious, her personality is warming, her generosity is amazing.  Norma has been a free spirit, a pioneer and activist, yet she is the glue holding the fantastic four friends of Brentwood High School Class of ‘41 together.

The Hodges family moved to Brentwood in 1938 during the Great Depression. They were the third family in new Manhasset Village. By the time she reached Brentwood High School, Norma had attended 13 schools. Through her travels she had developed two distinctive characteristics; she never met a stranger-she made a friend and she embraced a strong sense of justice. Both of these attributes gave her ability and courage to confront anyone or anything she knew to be unfair.

One such incident put Miss Norma Hodges on the front page of Brentwood’s local newspaper. Hearing of a plan to break the contract of a beloved history teacher/coach, she rallied the troops. Several girls and guys, with all the basketball team, planned a strike. On a set day they would stand in front of the school refusing to return to class until the district agreed to retain the coach. Well, the basketball team showed up, Norma showed up and the press showed up. In a flash, she and the basketball team were front page news! The coach was kept on until the end of the school year…then he decided to move on.

Norma didn’t stop at small issues. At graduation ceremony in 1941, a full 13 years ahead Martin Luther King, she made an amazing speech. To the shock of some or to the applause of others, Norma talked about people, all kinds of people. She insisted all people should be allowed to go anywhere. Everyone, no matter the color of skin or the place they come from, should be able to live where they want to live. They should be able to work where they want to work. They should be able to eat wherever they want to eat. They should be able to achieve whatever they are willing to work hard enough to achieve. No one should be limited by the preconceived ideas of anyone. She said every individual has value. Sadly, as a result of that speech, even some of her own family will not speak to her.

Norma chose to stick to her principles no matter what others said or did not say!

Norma Hodges-Murphy is the portrait of a lady with the spirit of a stallion.

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