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Civil Rights

Alice Springer Fleisher Liveright

A woman from an affluent background who devoted her life to the underprivileged, Alice Springer Fleisher Liveright was part of a new generation of female professionals who helped to transform reform work from a pastime for middle-class women into a livelihood. This sense of professionalism, combined with left-leaning ideals of social justice and an outspoken manner, led her to work for equal rights for women and African Americans, and social welfare for children and poor adults.

Jacqueline Levine

Jacqueline Levine is an outstanding example of female activist leadership in American Jewish life. In over five decades of service to the Jewish community, she has combined her powerfully deep liberal political beliefs and activities, which benefit the poor and disadvantaged, with her concern for the vast needs of specific Jewish communities.

Yehudit Karp

Yehudit Karp is widely acknowledged for her determined pursuit of truth and justice. Throughout her career as a lawyer she has acted with grit in the Israeli and international spheres, to preserve moral standards and to ensure human rights in general and women’s rights, children’s rights and victim’s rights in particular. She has received awards from the Israeli Bar Association for her special contribution to the advancement of the status of women in Israel and from the National Council for the Child for her contribution to the status and welfare of children in Israel.

Hannah Karminski

During the mid-twenties and the thirties in Germany, Hannah Karminski was the “soul” of the League of Jewish Women (Jüdischer Frauenbund, JFB), founded in 1904 by Bertha Pappenheim (1859–1936). She served as secretary of the League and, from 1924 to 1938, as editor of its newsletter. After the forced liquidation of the League in 1938, Hannah Karminski decided to remain in Germany and to continue her work in the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (Reich Association of Jews in Germany).

Régine Karlin-Orfinger

Régine Karlin’s resistance activities would alone have warranted esteem and recognition, but she did not desist from further work. Totally bilingual in French and Dutch and even polyglot, since she was also proficient in both English and Russian, she had a brilliant career as a lawyer, characterized by her militant and unwavering support of causes that she considered just.

Geri M. Joseph

Geri M. Joseph, a pioneer in the acceptance of women in journalism and politics, was a prize-winning newspaper reporter in an era when women were typically assigned to the society pages. She was U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Carter administration, and she was the first woman to be elected to several business boards in Minnesota.

Libby Holman

“I always have to break a song over my back. … I just can’t sing a song; it has to be part of my marrow and bones and everything,” Libby Holman explained in a 1966 interview. Daring, dark, and impetuous, Holman led a rich public life that touched a dizzying array of people, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Montgomery Clift, from Alice B. Toklas to Jane Bowles. A musical and sexual revolutionary from the 1920s to the 1960s, Holman succeeded at two different musical careers. Known as the “Statue of Libby,” she carried one of the smokiest torches of American music hall society in the 1920s and 1930s, and was the inventor of the strapless evening dress. From a deep sense of personal commitment, she later made significant contributions to the civil rights movement as both an artist and a wealthy benefactor. However, murder, millionaires, death, and suicide were morbid recurring themes in Libby Holman’s life, reaching tabloid proportions.

Ellen Phyllis Hellmann

Dr. Ellen Hellmann has devoted her life to South Africa and all its peoples. Her services to Africans are recognized and appreciated in South Africa and internationally; her devotion to public duty is amazing. She is an outstanding authority on race relations and is in the forefront in the battle for African advancement.

Ida Espen Guggenheimer

Born on December 8, 1866, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ida Espen Guggenheimer was the oldest child of Jacob and Fannie (Bachman) Espen. She had one brother, Frank, and two sisters, Hannah and Sophie. Her father and his brother were importers of lace. She was educated at the Friends School in Philadelphia and attended school in Dresden, Germany, when her family traveled in Europe.

Ruth Gruber

Ruth Gruber was born on September 30, 1911, in Brooklyn, the fourth of five children of David and Gussie (Rockower) Gruber, Russian Jewish immigrants who owned a wholesale and retail liquor store and later went into real estate. She graduated from New York University at age eighteen and in 1930 won a fellowship to the University of Wisconsin, where she received her M.A. in German and English literature. In 1931, Gruber received a fellowship from the Institute of International Education for study in Cologne, Germany. Her parents pleaded with her not to go: Hitler was coming to power. Nevertheless, she went to Cologne and took courses in German philosophy, modern English literature, and art history. She also attended Nazi rallies, her American passport in her purse, a tiny American flag on her lapel. She listened, appalled, as Hitler ranted hysterically against Americans and even more hysterically against Jews.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Civil Rights." (Viewed on December 10, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/civil-rights>.

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