Emma Goldman, 1869 - 1940

portrait of Emma Goldman
Ca. 1911

Born: 27 June 1869 (O.S. 15 June), Kovno, Russian Empire (now Kaunas, Lithuania)
Died: 14 May 1940, Toronto, Canada

Born in an Orthodox Jewish family, she was whipped by her father for her behavior. He felt that a Jewish girl needed only to know how to prepare gefilte fish, cut noodles, and make babies, so she was not provided with any education beyond elementary and what we would call middle school while they were living in Germany. The family then moved to Saint Petersburg. One of her half sisters had married and moved to Rochester, New York, in 1885 her oldest half sister and she followed, after a dispute with her father. A year later the rest of the family was forced to follow as anti-Semitic behavior intensified. She became active in anarchist causes, writing and speaking to large crowds, and frequently being arrested. She worked as a seamstress for quit a while, then went to Europe and gained a certificate that allowed her to work as a midwife. She was arrested once for advocating birth control, once for "inciting to riot" during a labor dispute, she was held for two weeks of questioning when President McKinley's assassin credited one of her speeches as his inspiration, and she was in prison for two years for advocating refusal to register for the draft in 1917. She founded and published Mother Earth from 1906 until it was shut down in 1917. She came to oppose all violence in politics, and was one of the first to publicly oppose prejudice against homosexuals. She was a committed atheist and an advocate of absolute free speech. Goldman was one of 249 "aliens" deported to the Soviet Union in 1919 (she was administratively stripped of her citizenship to make this possible), two years later she was writing about how poorly the Soviet system lived up to its promise. She suffered a debilitating stroke on 17 February 1940, leaving her able to hear but not speak. A second stroke followed less than a week before she died, the US allowed her body to be returned to Chicago for burial. Please note: "Red Emma" was an important character and a prolific author and deserves a place in our database. That doesn't mean I agree with all of her philosophy or any of her atheist theology.

Biography from Wikipedia and Biography.com

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