---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2002 22:52:16 EDT
Subject: Beverly Axelrod dies
My dear friend Beverly Axlerod died and the following was written. Over the
past two years I visited with her and did a 5 hour video interview with her
about her life.
Beverly Axelrod, 78, activist-lawyer, died at her Pacifica home on Wednesday,
Ms. Axelrod was one of the first woman radical defense lawyers in the nation.
She influenced generations of civil rights activists, including past and
current San Francisco mayors Art Agnos and Willie Brown.
It was on the Law Review at Brooklyn Law School that she worked with fellow
student Leonard Garment, later Richard Nixonís personal counsel. Ms. Axelrod
often credited Mr. Garment with having introduced her to jazz and leftist
Ms. Axelrod was an active member of the National Lawyers Guild since 1948.
She became president of the Modesto NAACP in 1952 and subsequently worked as
their defense counsel in San Francisco. In 1953, as an attorney for the
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), she walked Louisiana parishes to register
voters. She represented Eldridge Cleaver and their correspondence formed the
basis of the book Soul on Ice. She was an active participant during the
formation of the Black Panther Party. In 1964, she was lead counsel in the
defense of hundreds of civil rights demonstrators arrested while protesting
racial discrimination on San Franciscoís Auto Row and at the Sheraton Palace
Her commitment to Civil Rights was lifelong and crossed borders and races.
She traveled to Vietnam in 1965 to meet with Foreign Minister Madame Binh to
organize the first anti-war protests that included women and children. Ms.
Axelrod was also a United Farm Worker (UFW) volunteer striving to improve
conditions for migrant farm laborers. In 1966, she represented Yippie Jerry
Rubin before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
In 1968, she moved to Espanola, New Mexico, to work as a defense attorney for
Alianza, the Chicano land rights movement. She co-founded the newspaper El
Grito del Norte with writer and community activist Elizabeth Martinez.
In 1973, she was one of the attorneys who represented Native Americans at the
Pine Ridge Reservation. As principal negotiator between the Wounded Knee
Legal Defense Committee and members of the federal government during the
FBIís occupation, she played a pivotal role in ending the governmentís
occupation of the reservation. From 1975-1985, she was an administrative law
judge for the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board. In 1978, she
founded Ace Investigations, a private investigation firm and worked as its
managing partner. She went on a fact-finding mission to Israel and the
Occupied Territories in 1990 with the Middle East Childrenís Alliance.
Despite increasing ill health in her later years, she kept up her travels,
including many trips to satisfy her passion for camping in nature.
She has been a loving mentor and mother. She is survived by her son Douglas
Axelrod, daughters-in-law Jill Matosich and Lani Kask, three grandchildren
and two great-grandchildren. Honored by many organizations for her historic
civic rights contributions, Ms. Axelrod operated without fanfare, directing
her resources and energy to the struggle for social justice.
The family prefers memorial donations to Mission Hospice, 151 West 20th
Avenue, San Mateo, CA.
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