History Revealed: Grace Holmes Carlson
March 4 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
History Revealed: The Fierce Life of Grace Holmes Carlson
A Conversation with Author Donna Haverty-Stacke
and Greg Poferl, Linda Leighton, and Mary Wingerd
History Revealed Series
March 4, 2021
Thursday, 7:00 pm
In partnership with the East Side Freedom Library
Live presentation on Zoom
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On December 8, 1941, Grace Holmes Carlson, the only female defendant among eighteen Trotskyists convicted under the Smith Act, was sentenced to sixteen months in federal prison for advocating the violent overthrow of the government. After serving a year in Alderson prison, Carlson returned to her work as an organizer for the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and ran for vice president of the United States under its banner in 1948. Then, in 1952, she abruptly left the SWP and returned to the Catholic Church. With the support of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who had educated her as a child, Carlson began a new life as a professor of psychology at St. Mary’s Junior College in Minneapolis where she advocated for social justice, now as a Catholic Marxist.
The Fierce Life of Grace Holmes Carlson: Catholic, Socialist, Feminist is a historical biography that examines the story of this complicated woman in the context of her times with a specific focus on her experiences as a member of the working class, as a Catholic, and as a woman. Her story illuminates the workings of class identity within the context of various influences over the course of a lifespan. The long arc of Carlson’s life (1906–1992) ultimately reveals significant continuities in her political consciousness that transcended the shifts in her particular partisan commitments, most notably her life-long dedication to challenging the root causes of social and economic inequality. In that struggle, Carlson ultimately proved herself to be a truly fierce woman.
Donna Haverty-Stacke, Professor of History at Hunter College of the City University of New York, is a historian of working-class and radical politics. She is interested in the intersection of that history with nationalism and collective memory, national security and free speech, gender identity, and Catholic activism. Her first book was America’s Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism,1867-1960 (NYU Press, 2009) and her second, which she discussed four years ago here at ESFL, was Trotskyists on Trial: Free Speech and Political Persecution since the Age of FDR (NYU Press, 2015).
Greg Poferl is a lifelong labor and Catholic social activist and a generous collaborator at ESFL. Last year, Greg wrote his memoir, Turning Points: Never Give Up on Anyone, Especially Yourself (East Side Freedom Library, 2020).
Linda Leighton is a lifelong labor activist who has played a major role in maintaining local memory of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters’ strikes.
Mary Wingerd is Emerita Professor of History at St. Could State University and the author of Claiming the City: Politics, Faith, and the Power of Place in St. Paul (Cornell University Press, 2001) and North Country: The Making of Minnesota (Minnesota Historic al Society Press, 2010).
To purchase titles from the History Revealed series, or other books of interest, see our partner, Subtext Books at https://subtextbooks.com/