Sally Mack raised her children with a belief in nonviolent activism, and they in turn led her to join their protest of nuclear weapons. In 1986, Mack’s youngest son brought his parents and siblings to a protest in Mercury, Nevada, where they were arrested for trespassing on a nuclear test site. Mack and her husband used the Nuremberg Defense, which forgives crimes committed to prevent greater crimes against humanity, but they lost their appeal. Rather than pay the fine, Mack spent five days in jail. The experience empowered Mack to assume leadership roles in other social justice movements, and she helped found a group called Families in Action in the Nuclear Age. Mack’s social activism also impacted her work as a perinatal social worker, helping newborns: she became a leader in the social work community and was involved in fighting for legislation to allow parents to stay home with sick children. Sally Mack was honored at the 2000 Women Who Dared event in Boston.
Sally talks about her Orthodox Jewish upbringing in Oil City, Pennsylvania. She grew up in an environment where there was a clear divide between Jews and non-Jews. Sally was supported by her family and set up for success. She was expected to take a pre-med path, but since that was a limited option for women, Sally earned a degree in social work instead. While she was exposed to politics in her youth, Sally only began to get involved after college. In 1955, Sally got joined the Quaker community. She was drawn to their values and ended up taking a trip to Israel with a Quaker group. Sally’s sons, who were very politically active in college, inspired her to take a more active role in her community. Sally, and her family were arrested in 1986 for protesting at a nuclear test site. She discusses the impact this event had on her, saying that it gave her a “deep sense of community” and a new understanding of herself as a person. She ended up spending five days in jail, learning a lot from the other women there. She interviewed all of the women she met in jail, to see how their stories differed. Sally participated in many other social justice and activist groups throughout her life. Finally, she describes how activism is connected with spirituality for her and the various Jewish communities she has been involved in throughout her life.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Sally Mack. Interviewed by Judith Rosenbaum. 3 August 2000. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 1, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/mack-sally>.
Oral History of Sally Mack by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.