Susan Maze-Rothstein

b. 1956

Susan Maze-Rothstein’s childhood experiences of injustice led her to help create a more just world for her children and her students. Growing up Jewish and biracial in a white neighborhood, Maze-Rothstein was dismissed by her teachers but earned a place for herself at Cornell, where she became involved in student activism, which eventually led her to a law degree. She became an administrative law judge at the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents and senior faculty at Northeastern University School of Law, where she manages community social justice projects. Through these projects, students donate 15,000 hours of pro bono work per year to social justice causes. Her commitment to serving the community has a more personal side as well: Determined that her sons have a more positive school experience than her own, she developed the Diversity Committee at the Driscoll School, creating a more supportive, multicultural environment through changes to hiring, curriculum, and cross-cultural social events. Maze-Rothstein sees her multicultural background as an asset, enabling her to bridge cultures and worldviews and to help others cross barriers of difference. Susan Maze-Rothstein was honored at the 2002 Women Who Dared event in Boston.

Scope and Content Note

Susan Maze-Rothstein shares her family background, experiences with Judaism, and activism in addressing diversity and anti-racist education. Her mother, an idealistic woman, converted to Judaism due to its social philosophy. Susan discusses the challenges of being an outsider in both the Jewish and African-American communities, emphasizing the lack of inclusiveness she feels in the Jewish community in Brookline, Massachusetts. Despite this, she remains connected to Judaism and values its emphasis on justice. Susan's activism includes her involvement in the diversity committee at her son's school and her commitment to creating an inclusive educational environment. As a lawyer and judge, she fights for social justice in worker's compensation law, ensuring fair treatment for employees. She teaches a course on critical legal analysis and community lawyering projects, where students address social justice issues through research and fieldwork. The interview further explores Susan's challenges in activism, including resistance from her law school and societal norms. She draws inspiration from influential figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, and Angela Davis, as well as the Warren Supreme Court. Susan encourages others to engage in diversity committees and use transferable skills to make a positive impact in their communities. The interview ends with Susan sharing a personal story about taking risks and feeling empowered. She offers additional materials and information for archival purposes, showcasing her work and encouraging others to continue the fight for justice and inclusivity.

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Susan Maze-Rothstein. Interviewed by Judith Rosenbaum. 25 January 2002. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 18, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/maze-rothstein-susan>.

Oral History of Susan Maze-Rothstein 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.