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Clara Lemlich Sparks an Uprising

Clara Lemlich made a spontaneous speech at Cooper Union on this date in 1909 that sparked the “Uprising of the 20,000,” an industry-wide strike of shirtwaist workers mobilized by the new International Ladies Garment Workers Union. “I want to say a few words!” shouted Lemlich, a 23-year-old garment worker, in Yiddish, following AFL leader Samuel Gompers’ […]

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Radical or Liberal in 2017?

REGARDING FEMINISM AND LOTS MORE by Raina Lipsitz from the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   WHEN I WAS 17, I yearned for the “real” feminism of my mother’s era, the kind chronicled in Susan Brownmiller’s In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution, which came out in 2000, during my senior year of high […]

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Remembering the Waistmakers General Strike, 1909

In Memoriam: Clara Lemlich Shavelson (March 28, 1886 — July 25, 1982) Originally published in the November, 1982 issue of Jewish Currents. Read the original, in PDF with footnotes. WHEN CLARA LEMLICH SHAVELSON DIED in a Los Angeles nursing home July 25th, the death notice of the family in the New York Times July 30th […]

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Channel Esther: The Clara Lemlich Awards

by Esther Cohen Lemlich Award photos by Emily Holzknecht Every year, for one reason or another, I find myself at far too many events to count, to remember, or even to record. Many of these events are worthy. Most are not memorable. An exception, these last four years, is one of my favorite nights: The […]

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November 23: The Uprising of the 20,000

More than twenty thousand Yiddish-speaking immigrants, mostly young women, launched an eleven-week strike in New York’s shirtwaist industry on this date in 1909 — the largest strike by women in American history. Assaulted by goons, arrested by cops, lacking a substantial strike fund, the young women endured winter picketing, hunger, and harsh treatment in the […]

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November 22: Clara Lemlich

Clara Lemlich made a spontaneous speech at Cooper Union on this date in 1909 that sparked the “Uprising of the 20,000,” an industry-wide strike mobilized by the new International Ladies Garment Workers Union. “I want to say a few words!” shouted Lemlich, a 23-year-old garment worker (usually described as 19), following AFL leader Samuel Gompers’ […]

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May 27: The Meat Boycott of 1935

A boycott of Manhattan butcher shops began on this date in 1935, led by Clara Lemlich Shavelson, who at age 23 had sparked the 1909 “Uprising of the 20,000” garment workers strike with a militant speech at a meeting at Cooper Union. The 1935 boycott brought together the Communist-led Council of Working-Class Women and various […]

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