Monday, October 8, 2007

Blog Entry 2 - Emma Goldman - Jenny Walton

Jenny Walton
Blog Entry 2: Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman, (1869-1940), was an extremely controversial figure in American history, particularly when it came to rights for women, the right to free speech and opposition to all forms of government.
Emma was born in the midst of major political unrest in Russia, or what is known today as Lithuania. In her childhood, Emma grew up in a Jewish ghetto and was used to the culture of uneasiness and discontent in Russia not to mention the oppression of Jews. Emma was no religious but her determination to be free from domination was life long. She took this radical thinking to America with her sister at age 16 and began working in a garment factory. She soon became outspoken for workers rights and advocated for unions and eight-hour workdays.
Emma was very outspoken on many unpopular ideas such as birth control, sexual freedom, women’s equality and independence. She had many enemies with her writings and speeches on anarchism, which is the opposition of all forms of government and the freedoms of thought and expression. Out of her work with the first Free Speech League, the American Civil Liberties Union was formed. Emma served jail time for her beliefs and giving air to them as well as in her writings, which were generally banned in America. She was considered dangerous for her anarchist thinking and was arrested frequently. Goldman also served a two-year prison term for speaking out against mandatory drafting of men into World War 1. Her U.S. citizenship was denied and she was deported. Emma later married a man from Wales and spent her days traveling Europe, lecturing as she had done so in America.
I had never heard of Emma Goldman before WS 200. I am amazed at her tenacity and her spirit. Even though she was not appreciated for her outspokenness and blatant thinking on sexuality and other taboo subjects, Emma did contribute a great deal to America, with the right to freedom of speech, workers rights, birth control and equality for women, to name a few.
Emma's intensity is emphasized in the following quote: "I want freedom, the right to self-expression,everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things."

Information on Emma Goldman can be found at:
wikipedia (Jewish Women's Archive)

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