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May 14: Emma Goldman

Lawrence Bush
May 13, 2010

Emma_Goldman_GraveJewish anarchist and feminist revolutionary Emma Goldman died in Toronto on this date in 1940 at age 70. She was founding editor of Mother Earth, which published monthly from 1907 to 1917, and the author of Anarchism and Other Essays, My Disillusionment in Russia, and Living My Life, among other books. Goldman was an eloquent, passionate advocate of anarchism, free speech, birth control, sexual freedom, atheism, gay liberation (she was, said sexologist Magnus Hirshfeld, “the first and only American to take up the defense of homosexual love before the general public”), prison reform, and labor activism. She paid a steep price forher beliefs, with numerous arrests, deportation, and a life of poverty, harassment, and constant pressure. Goldman was rediscovered in the 1970s by American feminists and became a much-admired, much quoted figure. To see her being interviewed late in her life, look below.
“Idealists are foolish enough to throw caution to the winds. They have advanced humankind and have enriched the world.” —Emma Goldman

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.