Woman's History Month


March 16, 2021 at 7:41 AM

By: john whitfield

PEACE & JUSTICE RALLY, (This Sat. Mar, 20th, 2021)

This Saturday, March 20th at noon

at Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams

Peace and Justice rally

March 20 is the 18th anniversary of the United States' government’s invasion and occupation of Iraq

Demands include:

** End State Repression & Institutional Racism

** Promote an Economy That Serves Working Class People

** Housing, Food, Education & Healthcare are Human Rights

** We Have the Right to Control Our Bodies

** International Peace & Human Rights

** Protect the Planet, Protect Us All

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said when he famously broke with the Democratic Party, calling out "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government":

"There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America.... I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such....

"This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

From "Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence," delivered at Riverside Memorial Church, April 4, 1967

PLEASE NOTE: Proper use of masks is required to participate in this event. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please respect others by NOT attending.

This event is endorsed by 16 organizations including the Chicago Anti-War Coalition (CAWC)


March 31, 2021 at 3:03 PM

By: john whitfield

Life Story: Emma Goldman (1869-1940) Radical Activist Among Progressive Reformers

Emma Goldman was born on June 27, 1869 in Kovno, Lithuania. Harsh restrictions on Jewish mobility and economic activity made it almost impossible for many Jews, including the Goldmans, to escape poverty. Emma had a difficult childhood. Her father was violent and abusive and her mother struggled with depression.

Emma moved with her family to St. Petersburg, Russia, when she was 12 years old. It was there that she first encountered the growing revolutionary movement in Russia and got her first taste of political radicalism. Soon after, however, she moved to Germany to live with her grandmother and attend school. After only four years in the school, 16-year-old Emma returned to Russia to go to work as a seamstress in a corset factory. In 1885, her father sought to arrange a marriage for her. She fled the match and her abusive father by immigrating with her sister to the United States.

The sisters settled in Rochester, New York, and found work in a garment factory. Emma’s interest in political radicalism only grew with her experience as a laborer in the United States. The long hours, unequal pay, and suppression of workers’ rights added fuel to a growing fire within the young activist and agitator.

While in Rochester, Emma married a young Jewish immigrant and naturalized citizen named Jacob Kerschner. The marriage lasted less than a year, as Emma quickly realized she wanted more than a married life in a small city. By the age of 20, she was divorced and living in New York City.

Emma was particularly drawn to the idea of anarchism. She believed that human nature was inherently good and that people would naturally organize communities around common interests. She saw government systems as creating unnecessary competition among well-meaning individuals. Anarchists also believed that with the destruction of the capitalist-driven government, everyone would be equal regardless of gender or race. Emma, however, departed from this part of the ideology. She argued that women needed to advocate for their emancipation from men. It was this belief that made her a specific champion of women’s rights.

In 1892, Emma’s reputation as a violent and infamous radical took shape when she and her partner Alexander Berkman plotted to assassinate the industrialist Henry Clay Frick. Emma and Alexander were outraged by Frick’s violent treatment of steel mill strikers in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Alexander shot Frick in Frick’s office. Although Frick survived, Alexander was sentenced to twenty-two years in jail for attempted assassination. Emma was arrested, but avoided jail time because there was not enough evidence to prove she had been involved in the plot.

In the years that followed, Emma built a career and reputation as an anarchist agitator. She spoke on street corners and at mass meetings, attended radical discussion groups, and built connections among the bohemian circle of Greenwich Village (for more resources see: The Armory Show at 100). In 1906, she launched the magazine Mother Earth, which featured articles on politics, anarchism, free love, birth control, and feminist ideologies.

Emma’s combination of feminism and anarchism made her a truly unique thinker among the reformers of her era. She criticized what she saw as a narrow, misguided view of women’s rights. She was wary of the suffrage movement because she believed that participation in politics was participation in a corrupt system that promoted inequality; women could vote just as unjustly as men. There was no guarantee, she argued, that women voters would fix political corruption.

Instead, Emma wanted women to turn their attention to issues beyond suffrage. She trained as a nurse and midwife. She was often arrested for promoting birth control publicly and breaking other decency laws of the time.

Emma built a career and reputation as an anarchist agitator.

Emma also practiced and advocated for free love/sexual freedom, and she publicly criticized the institution of marriage as hypocritical and oppressive. She firmly believed that there was no way for two people to know if they truly loved each other without living together first. She also felt that if two people stopped loving each other, they should not be forced to stay together. In 1893, she told Nellie Bly in an interview that Americans should do away with marriage all together. In an age when the cult of domesticity continued to reign, she worked to dismiss the notion that it was woman’s primary and natural role in society.

Emma’s ideas won her many admirers, and even more enemies. As a radical feminist, immigrant, and outspoken woman, she was frequently described as “unAmerican.” The government banned publication of Mother Earth because it promoted conscientious objection from the draft. She helped form the No-Conscription League and attracted thousands of people to her many anti-war protest meetings during World War I. In June 1917, she and Alexander were arrested and charged with conspiracy against the draft. They were each sentenced to two years in prison.

Emma was released from prison in September 1919. However, the Justice Department’s General Intelligence Division rearrested her less than two months later as an enemy alien. Emma claimed that she was an American citizen because she had married an American man back in Rochester. The government disagreed, stating that she had rejected her citizenship when she ended the marriage. On December 21, 1919, Emma and Alexander were part of a large group of 200 men and women exiled to the Soviet Union.

Emma continued her activism as an anarchist and women’s rights advocate throughout the rest of her life. She traveled and lived in various countries throughout Europe, including Sweden, England, and Spain. She also traveled to and worked in Canada, where she died on May 14, 1940.


anarchism: The political belief that government is unnecessary and that society would be better off if individuals took care of themselves and each other.

assassinate: Murder.

conscientious objection: Refusing to enroll in the military on the basis of personal beliefs and morals.

conscription: Forced enrollment in the military. A draft.

corset: A close-fitting undergarment for women that restricted and shaped the hips, waist, and chest to a specific shape.

cult of domesticity: A philosophy or belief system that upheld the idea that women belonged in the home.

emancipation: The act of freeing someone from a restriction.

enemy alien: An immigrant from a country with which the United States is at war.

free love: The belief that people should love whomever they wish for however long they wish without the institution of marriage.

ideology: Belief system.

naturalized citizen: An immigrant who completes the process of becoming a citizen in his or her new country.

radicalism: Extreme behavior and beliefs.

suffrage: The right of voting; in this era, suffrage often referred specifically to woman suffrage, or the right of women to vote.

suppression: Restriction.

Discussion Questions

How did Emma Goldman’s experience as an immigrant shape her political ideologies?

What were Emma Goldman’s critiques of the women’s suffrage movement, and why did she feel this way?

Why did Emma Goldman criticize marriage and view it as an obstacle to women’s emancipation?

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