Emma Goldman, 1869 - 1940
In February 1940, Goldman suffered a stroke that left her unable to speak. After her death on May 14, 1940, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service allowed her body to be re-admitted to the United States, where she was buried in Chicago near the Haymarket anarchists who had so inspired her. Thousands of mourners flocked to see her casket, and tributes poured in from every corner of the world.
Decades after her death, Goldman's presence remains with us in many ways. Her pioneering advocacy of workers' rights, women's rights, and sexual freedom helped to shape modern American society, and her work contributed directly to the advance of free speech and the legalization of birth control in the United States. Her own experiences, moreover, closely anticipated debates on some of today's most important political and social issues, such as the rights of immigrants, the value of dissent, and the true meaning of patriotism.
Goldman's passion, dedication and determination continue to inspire activists of all stripes. Even those who disagree with her ideas can find much to admire in her indefatigability, her zeal, and her unwillingness to adhere to anyone else's script. Her life proves that struggles pursued with resolve and resilience can indeed create change, even in the face of seemingly insurmoutable opposition. Despite constant obstacles, she never stopped fighting, and repeated disappointments never destroyed her belief in America and its possibilities. As her friend and lawyer Harry Weinberger said at her funeral, "You will live forever in the hearts of your friends and the story of your life will live as long as the stories are told of women and men of courage and idealism."
- "Emma Goldman and the Spanish Civil War," on the website of the Emma Goldman Papers, accessed September 13, 2002, available at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Exhibition/spanishcivilwar.html
- Quotation from Harry Weinberger, Emma Goldman (The Oriole Press: Berkeley Heights, NJ, 1940).