From the March-April 2015 issue of News & Letters
In February, Geraldine Blankenship died at the age of 90 in Flint, Mich. As a teenager, she worked with her parents and the United Auto Workers to organize the Flint Sit-Down Strike. The strike lasted from Dec. 30, 1936 to Feb. 11, 1937, when GM agreed to recognize the union as a bargaining group for plant workers. She is the last surviving member of the Women’s Emergency Brigade, which organized “to protect our husbands and sons from violence” when police confronted striking workers. She continued to be an activist for workers’ and women’s rights and asked that memorial contributions be made to Planned Parenthood.
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Since 2003, Feb. 6 has been the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a UN-sponsored awareness day. This year’s theme was “Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation” since healthcare workers have performed FGM on 18% of victims, with this rate reaching 74% in some countries. However, programmatic evidence suggests that FGM can be stopped in one generation, and activists worldwide have used social media to spread awareness of the dangers of FGM and its presence in Western countries including the U.S.
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Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, called “the Most Dangerous Woman in America” in 1902 by the U.S. Attorney General, was the most well-known labor organizer of the early twentieth century. The Working Women’s History Project has announced the opening of a Mother Jones Museum in the Mt. Olive, Ill., town hall in June 2015. It will include participatory exhibits explaining the struggles of immigrant workers, including activist women, in the nearby coal mining towns. The Museum is located near the Historic Mother Jones Monument and the Union Miners Cemetery where Mother Jones is buried alongside those she said had “died for industrial liberty.”