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Victor Rabinowitz

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Victor Rabinowitz died at the end of last year. He was an amazing man. In 1944 Rabinowitz established his own law firm. Later he took on a partner, Leonard Boudin. Both men were committed radicals and they represented union leaders prosecuted under the Taft-Hartley Act.

In 1949 Rabinowitz and Boudin successfully represented Judith Coplon who had been charged with espionage. They also represented several artists persecuted as a result of McCarthyism. This included challenging government efforts to prohibit Rockwell Kent and Paul Robeson from travelling.

Victor Rabinowitz also helped administer the Rabinowitz Foundation which gave away more than $3m to research and scholarship. Rabinowitz was a strong supporter of the Civil Rights movement and provided funds for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He also travelled to the Deep South to take part in Freedom Summer. It was during this work that he met and married the African-American historian Joanne Grant, the author of Black Protest: History, Documents, And Analysis 1619 To The Present (1968) and Ella Baker: Freedom Bound (1998).

In 1960s Joanne Grant worked for the left-wing New York weekly, National Guardian. This included reporting on the Jim Crow Laws, Freedom Riders, Freedom Schools, Freedom Summer, Selma March and the March on Washington. As John J. Simon has pointed out: "She was not just at mass demonstrations, she was there in isolated communities where black students, conducting voter registration drives, were often rewarded with bloody beatings. Grant visited small towns in rural Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia in the early 1960s, at a time when assaults, killings and lynchings were common. As a black reporter this took courage, but Grant faced those dangers, filed her dispatches, got herself arrested, and became a member of the most militant of the civil rights groups, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)."

In 1960 Rabinowitz became the legal representative of the Fidel Castro government in Cuba. This included defending Cuba against corporations' attempts to seize Cuban property in the United States. Rabinowitz later served in the same role for the Salvador Allende government in Chile.

Rabinowitz was also involved in the protest movement against the Vietnam War. This included defending Daniel Berrigan, Daniel Ellsberg and Benjamin Spock. Rabinowitz was a founding member of the National Lawyers Guild and served as its president for three years.

Joanne Grant died on 9th January, 2005.



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