Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) was an Russian-American anarchist and labor organizer. She was an anarcho-communist who was an early supporter of atheism, gay rights and feminism.
Goldman fought for women’s rights and equality, workers' rights, queer rights, and anarchism (anarchism is the belief that society should be run without authorities or a government). She was also known for being one of the first women’s reproductive rights activists. In addition, Goldman wrote many books. Her most famous book, “Living My Life,” is an autobiography.
Goldman was born in a part of the Russian Empire, which is now known as Lithuania. She moved to the United States with her family when she was 17. She was upset by the way workers and labor activists were treated in the US. In 1889 she moved to New York. In New York, she joined an anarchist group. In the anarchist group, she met a new friend and someone she would work with for a long time, Alexander Berkman. In 1892, they attempted to assassinate (kill) Henry Clay Frick, for the way he treated workers. Berkman was unsuccessful and spent fourteen years in prison, but Goldman was not punished.
Later, in 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist who said he was inspired by Goldman. Goldman defended the murderer by saying “if the people want to do away with assassins, they must do away with the conditions which produce murderers."
Besides being a defiant radical, Emma was very well known for being incredibly influential in women’s reproductive rights activism. She fought for women’s sexual and economic freedom. Goldman was a nurse and midwife and taught other women about birth control. She was imprisoned in 1916 for this because at the time spreading information about birth control was illegal.
Goldman faced many legal troubles. In 1893 she was convicted of starting a riot and spent a year in prison. She was arrested in 1901 for allegedly conspiring in the assassination of President McKinley, but was never found guilty. In 1917 she was arrested and spent two years in prison for not supporting World War I.
Back to RussiaEdit
In 1919, Goldman and Berkman were sent back to Russia because the American government thought they were too dangerous. The Russian Revolution had just happened and Goldman was hopeful that Russia might end up being a good place. She ended up deciding that the revolution in Russia was not as good as she thought and that the Bolsheviks tricked many of the people in Russia. She thought the Bolsheviks were too controlling and were too powerful. She also did not like that the Soviet Union put lots of anarchists in jail for not agreeing with them.
Moving to EuropeEdit
She and Berkman left after two years and Goldman lived in many places in Europe, including England and France. In 1936 she moved to Spain to help the anarchists fight the fascists during the Spanish Civil War.
- "Emma Goldman (1869-1940) | American Experience | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
- "Birth Control Pioneer". www.lib.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2022-04-21.