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June Finer. Vicki Gabriner. Anyone? Let's Not Forget!

On January 21, the Forward published an article about how Obama's presidency is renewing Jewish activists' memories of the civil rights movement, offering personal vindication for some of the central experiences in these Jewish activists' lives. The article draws attention to the disproportionate number of Jews who "threw themselves into work for civil rights as organizers, lawyers, marchers, journalists, and in other ways." It continues by profiling several of these activists, every one of whom in the article is male.

Um, hello?! Is the Forward wearing blinders? Has it forgotten that a *huge* proportion of Jews who were involved in the civil rights movement are women? Do the names Barbara Jacob Haber, Dottie Zellner, or Jan Goodman ring a bell? How about Trudy Orris, Harriet Tanzman, June Finer, or Carol Ruth Silver?

In (belated) commemoration of MLK Day, in celebration of Barack Obama's inauguration, and in anticipation of Black History Month, the Jewish Women's Archive is featuring reflections from civil rights activist, Vicki Gabriner - a JWA Women Who Dared honoree - as its podcast of the month. I'm struck by Gabriner's recollection of both the risks and intensity of her work in the rural American South. Even more, I am inspired by her feeling of being "held in a national energy" that was so palpable, so urgent, and so defined by collective struggle. I don't think I've ever felt the sense of connection or urgency in my own activist efforts to the degree to which Gabriner describes.

Listen to Gabriner's podcast, and check JWA's feature on Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement.

Topics: Civil Rights
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As someone honored to have had Vicki Gabriner in my life for some years as variously friend, co-worker, and political fellow-traveler, I thank you deeply. You've brought her back for me this evening to the world of the living through the immediacy of hearing her own words, profound and pithy and heartfelt as her words were wont to be, & here delivered in that inimitable, unforgettable speaking voice of hers. She did so much so well for so many. VG, ¡presente!

Yes, there are a lot of women who were involved in the civil rights movements. Trudy Orris comes to mind immediately. A remarkable woman.

I was lucky enough to live in Atlanta one of the same years (1977) that Vicki did and was even fortunate to be able to work with her on some committees on Lesbian Rights. I was also there when a fundraiser was done to collect money for her appeal in Boston (in fact I still have the poster for the fundraiser that was right outside my newly-arrived in Atlanta apartment on N Highland Ave -- what a twist of [lucky] fate). "Ms. Gabriner" is one of the most admirable and inspiring women I have ever met (she certainly always inspired me, even after she left Atlanta, through her writing) and truly is "a woman who dared" In my opinion, the JWA Award could not have gone to a more deserving and articulate woman. I look forward to listening to her podcast.

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How to cite this page

Namerow, Jordan. "June Finer. Vicki Gabriner. Anyone? Let's Not Forget! ." 23 January 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 3, 2024) <http://jwa.org/blog/vicki-gabriner-podcast>.