Re: [sixties-l] Beverly Axelrod dies (fwd)

From: William Mandel (
Date: Thu Jun 27 2002 - 17:32:39 EDT

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    I knew Beverly Axelrod, have the highest admiration for her, and am
    grateful to Roz for adding considerably to my knowledge of her. I simply
    wish to correct the statement that she "was one of the first woman
    radical defense lawyers in the nation." Perhaps her most important
    precursor was surnamed King (I am writing from memory and have no source
    handy), of which, as about the others, you can learn from the Meiklejohn
    Library in Berkeley. Another, who I knew personally 65 years ago, was
    Yetta Land in Cleveland. When, at that time, the Young Communist League
    sent me a short distance south to Akron, then the world center of the
    tire industry, there was a young woman who had just entered law school
    and, remaining in that city, came to perform the same function over the
    years. In San Francisco there is one -- I am really having a memory
    problem at the moment -- whose career began probably in the '40s and
    who, earlier this year, was the principal speaker at the very
    well-attended memorial for Bob Treuhaft. There was at least one such
    lawyer, an anarchist I believe, during the World War I period. The total
    number was certainly more than a handful, despite the very small number
    of women in the profession altogether. Very possibly that was because it
    took a radically independent character for a woman to dare to become a
    lawyer before the '60s.
                                                                    Bill Mandel wrote:
    > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    > Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2002 22:52:16 EDT
    > From:
    > To:
    > 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.
    > Roz Payne
    > Beverly Axelrod, 78, activist-lawyer, died at her Pacifica home on Wednesday,
    > June 19.
    > 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 Nixons personal counsel. Ms. Axelrod
    > often credited Mr. Garment with having introduced her to jazz and leftist
    > politics.
    > 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 Franciscos Auto Row and at the Sheraton Palace
    > Hotel.
    > 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
    > FBIs occupation, she played a pivotal role in ending the governments
    > 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 Childrens 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.


    ======================================================== My autobiography, SAYING NO TO POWER (Creative Arts, Berkeley, 1999), was written for the general reader. However, if you teach in the social sciences consider it for student reading. It is a history of how the American people fought to defend and expand its rights in my lifetime, employing the form of the life story of one who was involved in most serious movements: labor, student, peace with the USSR, civil rights South and North, civil liberties (I seriously damaged the Senate Internal Security Committee, the McCarthy Committee, and the House Un-American Activities Committee with spectacular testimonies that may be heard/seen on my website, ), the RADIO OF DISSENT (37 YEARS ON PACIFICA), with very extensive information on its history) and the feminist movement, although I am male. The book contains some fifty pages on my late wife, Tanya, appearing appropriately throughout the book. They may be found in the index under Mandel, Tanya. My activities began in 1927. I am 84. The book is available through all normal sources. If you want an autographed copy, send me $23 at 4466 View Pl., Apt. 106, Oakland, CA. 94611 ========================================================

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