Chatham Woman Named Mercy Otis Warren Cape Cod Woman of the Year

Juliet Bernstein, of Chatham, was named the 18th Mercy Otis Warren Cape Cod Woman of the Year Award recipient.

BARNSTABLE – A Chatham resident has been named the 2019 Mercy Otis Warren Cape Cod Woman of the Year.

The selection committee, in partnership with the Barnstable County Commissioners, announced that Juliet Bernstein will be the 18th recipient of the award.

The award recognizes a woman who exemplifies the traits of leadership in the community and has made significant contributions while embracing the ideals of patriotism.

The 105-year-old Bernstein started the Cape Cod Chapter of Fellowship of Reconciliation, an international peace and justice group.

She wrote the groups newsletter until she was 100, brought internationally important speakers to F.O.R. events, helped initiate the Olive Branch Award for outstanding activism in peace and justice, and started the F.O.R. peace poetry contest at Nauset Regional Middle School.

Bernstein also served as president of the League of Women Voters Cape Cod Chapter, fought for teachers’ rights in strikes, pushed resolutions to make Cape Cod towns “nuclear free zones,” and successfully advocated for women to participate in the Chatham Town Band.

In 1993, she received the Unsung Hero Award from the Cape Cod Chapter of the NAACP in “recognition of her unyielding dedication to human rights.”

“She’s always looking out for other people,” said Judy Walden Scarafile, the selection committee chair. “Even if it is a small thing like getting women in the Chatham Town Band.”

Bernstein recalls accompanying her mother in a horse drawn carriage to the polls in the early days of women’s voting rights.

She was encouraged by her mother’s progressive thinking, she earned a bachelor’s degree and Brooklyn College and a master’s degree from Columbia University Techer’s College. Bernstein taught in the New York public schools for many years.

“Juliet’s activism began when she was very young and her mom was a wonderful role model for her,” Scarafile said.

Scarafile said Bernstein is the modern day embodiment of Mercy Otis Warren because of her lifelong activism for peace.

“She really covers a whole range of smaller town-related issues or national and international issues,” Scarafile said.

Former Mercy Otis Warren Cape Cod Woman of the Year Josephine Ives (2008) called Bernstein “the social conscience of the Town.”

Ives said Bernstein is kind to everyone – even individuals who are against what she is advocating.

Bernstein was nominated by Lee Roscoe.

The presentation of the award will be made June 5 at 7 p.m. at Tales of Cape Cod, Olde Colonial Courthouse in Barnstable Village. The event is free and open to the public.

Previous recipients include: Marion Villeumier (2002), Jean Gardner (2003), Eugenia Fortes (2004), Felicia Penn (2005), Bonnie Snow (2006), Lynne Poyant (2007), Josephine Ives (2008), Mary LeClair (2009), Gloria Rudman (2010), Susan French (2011), Judy Walden Scarafile (2012), Dorothy Savarese (2013), Mary Lou Petitt (2014), Michelle DeSilva(2015), Ann Williams (2016), Dolores Daluz (2017), and Nancy Viall Shoemaker (2018).

Mercy Otis Warren was born in West Barnstable in 1728. She was a playwright, a historian, a pioneer in women’s causes, a champion of liberty, an advocate of the Bill of Rights and a patriot.


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