Tag Archives: Martin Luther King

Working Single Mother: Maintaining Her Sanity, by Ruth Persky

9 Aug

Ruth Persky was born in the Bronx N.Y. in 1934 to a somewhat observant Jewish family, which had immigrated to the U.S. in 1920 from Russian-occupied Poland. In 1943 the family moved to L.A. by train. Ruth attended after-school Hebrew School; joined a religious Zionist youth organization at 12; and spent a year in Israel from 1951-52.  Married twice, she reared two sons and her cousin’s two daughters.

In late 1965 I separated and was adjusting to single motherhood. Because of financial needs, I also had to find part-time work.  At that time I wasn’t focused on politics. Instead, I was maintaining my sanity, between work and single parenthood, through international folk dancing, dating, and occasional college classes.

The only political activity I did at the time was when Women Strike for Peace* had a demonstration. (I found out about it through my cousin-in-law.) A very large  middle-class contingent of women gathered at City Hall in a peaceful protest. WSF later opened a store-front office near my home.

Vietnam.Women Strike for Peace           Vietnam.Women Strike for Peace Anti-war demo

I participated occasionally in anti-Vietnam War demonstrations that I heard about through friends. The Peace and Freedom Party** was starting at that time, and I hosted a meeting at my home. But soon enough one of the children had a serious problem, and I realized I needed to focus on the kids, not on political activities.

Still, I did listen to the news but didn’t pay much attention. One morning, however, as I was driving the kids to school, I heard the news that  Martin Luther King, Jr. was going to lead the sanitary public-works employees in a march. All of  a sudden I had the thought, “Gee, it would be terrible if something happened to him.”  I don’t know what made me have that thought; very likely, even without focusing, I had picked up the tenor of the times. As we know, tragedy struck and he was assassinated that day. I remember being very sad and near tears when I picked up my kids after work. As soon as I arrived home, I went next door to the home of a black family to express my sorrow to them for their loss. Of course, it was a loss for us all, but especially so for African-Americans.


* Women Strike for Peace was founded by Bella Abzug and Dagmar Wilson in 1961. It was initially part of the movement for a ban on nuclear testing and to end the Vietnam War. They used many tactics that were different forms of legal pressure that include petitions, demonstrations, letter writing, mass lobbies, lawsuits and lobbying of individual Congressmen. They also had a few forms of illegal, nonviolent direct action activities that included sit-ins in congressional offices, and statements of complicity with draft resisters aimed at tying up the courts.

Vietnam.Women Strike for Peace.Bella Abzug           Vietnam.Women Strike for Peace logo

They played a crucial role, perhaps the crucial role (according to Eric Bentley), in bringing down the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), promoted the adoption of the Limited Test Ban Treaty (1963 and 1964), and were among the first Americans to oppose the Vietnam War. On November 1, 1961, at the height of the Cold War, about 50,000 women brought together by Women Strike for Peace marched in 60 cities in the United States to demonstrate against nuclear weapons. It was the largest national women’s peace protest of the 20th century.   [Source: Wikipedia

** The Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) is a nationally organized left-wing political party. The California branch was founded on June 23, 1967, after the riot in the wealthy Century City section of Los Angeles. The Peace and Freedom Party went national in 1968 as a left-wing organization opposed to the Vietnam War. It nominated Leonard Peltier for President in the 2004 U.S. Presidential election;  Ralph Nader for President in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election; andRoseanne Barr for President and Cindy Sheehan for Vice President in the 2012 presidential election. According to its main website, PFP “is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality” and tries “to build a mass based socialist party throughout the country.”  It is a strong advocate of environmentalism, aboriginal rights, rights to sexuality, health care, abortion, education, housing, employment and a socialist-run economy. [Source: Wikipedia]