Mary Jeffries Bruce brought the voice of wisdom, from prominent leaders, thinkers, authors and artists, to the citizens of our community, when in 1942 she accepted the leadership of a small public discussion group which came to be known as Sunday Evening Forum. As Chairwoman, she guided the Forum to great national prominence for 35 years, until her retirement in 1976. Mrs. Bruce herself became the very icon of Tucson’s emerging national identity.
Great Nations endure great challenges. In 1942, America had become the last great hope for freedom in a world torn by the terror of global war. In victory, America became the Leader of the Free World, and the hope for all the world. Our nation, our democracy, self-declared defender of the principles of human rights, civil rights, social and economic justice needed to embark upon a full measure of soul searching and self-examination, for with great power comes great responsibility .. the responsibility to get it right. The whole world is watching. The whole world is counting on us.
Sunday Evening Forum focused upon issues of deep concern – the fear of war in an atomic age .. racial and ethnic justice at home and around the world .. conduct of our large institutions .. stewardship of our natural resources .. serious and deliberative discussions which needed to be held. In a democracy, that need never goes away.
With the retirement of Mrs. Bruce in 1976, her foundation continued to conduct programs, but in a few short years, for various reasons, the flame went out.
In 2011, a small group of teachers and involved citizens, meeting occasionally for conversation and general venting, discussed creation of an on-line community forum. Our research uncovered the fact that, over the intervening years, no strong community leadership emerged with the energy and vision to continue the work. The community had stepped down.
We formed a publishing capability and secured the web address, ‘The Sunday Evening Forum’, and began developing the magazine, for as we reasoned, in the age of internet and cable television, “on-line” had become the most viable venue for revival of the public forum.
Another group later emerged, The Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, to also resurrect the Forum, and in 2014 purchased the web address “Sunday Evening Forum” and quickly held two spectacular presentations, featuring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and later, Tucson’s own Linda Ronstadt. We withdrew in favor of clearly a great and dedicated team of professionals; our hat’s off to them.
Fate is .. fickle. Recently, in 2018, we became aware that the very talented and successful community group, which we must all thank and admire for their special achievements, have withdrawn from the endeavor themselves. Their contributions to Mrs. Bruce’ legacy cannot be underestimated.
We made the decision to resume our earlier activities, and proceed with renewed determination. We are now in the early stages of creating our own community (non-profit) corporation, and hope soon to create a public leadership board to provide for the widest possible community involvement in this endeavor.
Indeed, Sunday Evening Forum is a legacy to the people of Tucson, to whom it truly belongs. Long-term success will only be possible with wide local support, and a clear demonstration of our focus.
Our commitment is to produce an on-line magazine/forum worthy of the name ‘Sunday Evening Forum’, to remain true to Mrs. Bruce’ vision by dedicating our efforts to bring attention to the truly critical issues of our times, and by honoring the Enduring Spirit of America to lead the world in progressive solutions for a brighter future for all mankind.
Thanks for attending.
Editors and Contributors for the new .. Sunday Evening Forum.