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George Wald, Scientist and Activist

Nobelist George Wald, who discovered that Vitamin A was a component of the retina and crucial to good eyesight, was born in New York to Jewish immigrant parents on this date in 1906. The first member of his family to attend college, Wald was doing a postgrad fellowship in Switzerland and Germany when Hitler came […]

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Igal Roodenko and the Freedom Rides

Igal Roodenko (1917-1991), a pacifist and a gay Jewish activist (center in photo above, with suitcase), was among sixteen men, eight black and eight white, who began a “Journey of Reconciliation” on interstate buses through the segregated South on this date in 1947. As members of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), they planned to […]

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November 8: William Davidon and the FBI Break-In

William Davidon, the Haverford professor who led the March 8, 1971 break-in at the Media, Pennsylvania FBI office, which resulted in public disclosure of COINTELPRO, the agency’s program of targeting the Black Panthers and other radical and anti-war groups for disruption, disinformation, and murder, died at 86 on this date in 2013. According to The […]

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February 24: 1199 Against the War

Local 1199, the Drug and Hospital Workers in New York led by Leon Davis, became the first U.S. labor union to oppose the war in Vietnam by sending a telegram to President Lyndon Baines Johnson on this date in 1965. In August, Jesse Olson, a vice president of the union, would testify before Congress during […]

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October 7: John and Yoko’s Lawyer

The U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the deportation order for John Lennon on this date in 1975, ruling that Lennon, who faced deportation because of a 1968 cannabis conviction in Great Britain, had been denied due process. Lennon’s key attorney in the lengthy case was Leon Wildes, an observant Jew who began his career as […]

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April 23: Shut It Down!

Several Jews were among the leaders of the student movement that took over the campus of Columbia University in New York City on this date in 1968 in protest of university involvement in military research during the Vietnam War, as well as against expansion of the campus into Morningside Park. Bob Feldman, a Students for […]

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October 8: Days of Rage

The Weathermen faction of a splintered Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) launched its “Days of Rage” protest in Chicago on this date in 1969, based on John Gregory Jacobs’ call to “bring the [Vietnam] war home.” Three days of “direct action” against businesses, homes, cars, and cops grew out of a resolution written by […]

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October 21: The Mobe

Approximately 100,000 people marched on Washington on this date in 1967 to protest the Vietnam War, after a year-long organizing effort by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War, a coalition of some 150 groups. Among the lead organizers were several Jews, including Robert Greenblatt, a Cornell professor, Sidney Peck, a Western Reserve University […]

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October 1: The Free Speech Movement

The Berkeley Free Speech Movement began on this date in 1964 when Jack Weinberg, an alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley, was arrested for violating new campus rules forbidding solicitation for “off-campus political and social action.” Weinberg, who had a long record of civil rights activism, went limp and was carried to a […]

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