Peggy Lipschutz

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Peggy Lipshutz

Template:TOCnestleft Peggy Lipschutz, the wife of Clarence Lipschutz is a Chicago based artist and socialist activist.

Early life

Born in England in 1918, Lipschutz studied art as a young girl, and learned social awareness from her parents. Her father, a wool merchant, put out “a little anti-fascist paper.” But he decided he could do more in the U.S.[1] “My father came to this country to fight fascism,” she said. “He saw Hitler long before most people.”

Her family settled in New York. Lipschutz, age 19, went to work. It was before and during World War II when many jobs opened up to women for the first time. In one job, she edited and laid out training books for the Navy. She had to “explain simple machinery to guys who only had high school math.” It started her on a lifetime path of using simple line drawings to deliver a message.

Artistic activism

Friends invited Lipshutz to go to Chicago to work with the Abraham Lincoln School for Social Science[2], a progressive school aimed at workers, especially the thousands of Black workers who had come up from the South, many with little formal schooling. “They hired me at around $1 an hour to do their publicity,” she recalled. One project was a textbook, “Why Work For Nothing?”— a “beautiful simple explanation of Marx’s theory of value for people who could barely read.”

“I laid out this whole book and illustrated it — that was my first big cartooning job.”

"But when the House Un-American Activities Committee came to Chicago, rich people who had supported the school took their money elsewhere, and the school dissolved.

Lipshutz went to work for a progressive print shop where, she said, “I learned more than I learned in art school.”

Progressive Party

In 1948, at a rally for the Henry Wallace Progressive Party presidential campaign, Lipschutz was to illustrate Wallace’s 10-point program. “Somebody else can do the talking, I’ll do the drawing,” Lipschutz told the organizers. The talker didn’t show up, so Peggy wound up doing her first chalk-talk[3].

Later activism

In the years that followed, Peggy Lipshutz took her drawings with a message to union halls, PTAs and other organizations. Along the way she married and raised three children.

In 1960 she began working with musician Vivian Richman, drawing to songs. They started doing concerts at Jewish community centers, combining Jewish and American folk songs. “Then we really took off,” doing concerts at schools and senior centers with themes of conflict resolution, equality and justice. “There was always a social content,” she said.

It was hard work, researching topics, finding the right images and music, and dragging a big easel board around. To do this, she said, “You have to be an artist with a passion for something.”

Over the years Peggy Lipshutz and her “Songs You Can See” were part of the struggles of Chicago’s Wisconsin Steel workers, the Harold Washington mayoral campaign and scores of others. When she joined the staff of the Communist Party USA paper Labor Today, at the center of the rank and file upsurge of the 1970s and ’80s, her illustrations became, for a generation of labor activists, synonymous with the publication’s message of labor unity, democracy and struggle.

One of that generation, Scott Marshall, calls Lipschutz “a Chicago institution in the labor movement and the people’s movement.” Marshall, now an activist in the Steelworkers retiree group SOAR and chair of the Communist Party’s Labor Commission, recalls a “star-studded” concert in the early 1970s to raise money for Labor Today, where Peggy joined Studs Terkel andPete Seeger on stage.

Marshall recalls, “Peggy had this big white artists’ pad. She would do several drawings at a time, rip them off the pad and throw them on the floor. Those became treasures around town framed in people’s homes and offices today.

Lipschutz currently travels to public schools with musician Barbara Armstrong with a program about the Holocaust[4].

Chicago Citizens Committee to Save Lives in Chile

The Chicago Citizens Committee to Save Lives in Chile sent twelve Chicago-area leaders to Chile, February 16-23, 1974. The delegation included Bea Lumpkin, two local legislators: Anna Langford, veteran Chicago City alderman and Doris Strieter, village board member in Maywood. Abe Feinglass, UFCW international vice president and Ernest DeMaio, UE district director, brought a strong labor voice. Academics included Geoffrey Fox, University of Illinois, Chicago; Father Gerard Grant, Loyola University, Chicago; George Gutierrez, Northern Illinois University and Joanne Fox Prazeworski, University of Chicago. From religious organizations were James Reed, pastor of the Parish of the Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, Chicago; Jane Reed, of the board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church, and Dean Peerman, managing editor, Christian Century.

The twelfth member was Frank Teruggi, Sr., whowanted to find out who had killed his son, Frank Teruggi, Jr., during the coup. When he returned, he said that his questions had been answered. He believed that his son had been detained in the National Stadium and murdered there, perhaps on order of the U.S. government.

The delegation spent one week in Chile. They gave a dramatic report on their return. Over 800 Chicagoans paid admission to hear their report and to support solidarity with Chile. For those who could not attend, Peggy Lipschutz and Bea Lumpkin produced an illustrated booklet with the highlights of the report.[5]

New American Movement

In 1981 the Lucy Parsons Chapter of the New American Movement and friends honored Milt Cohen and Vicky Starr for their many years of activity in the causes for people's progress and democracy. The members of NAM listed were: Alba Alexander, Bill Barclay, Dan Gilman, Roger Gilman, Debby Holdstein, Rob Persons, Miriam Rabban, Ralph Scott, Julie Skurski, Peg Stroebel, Monty Tarbox and Ed Kucinsky. The friends of NAM listed were: Florence Green and Ben Green, Bob Reed of Seattle, Judy MacLean of San Francisco, Max Gordon of NYC, Quentin Young and Ruth Young of Chicago, Clarence Lipschutz and Peggy Lipschutz of Evanston, Miriam Bazell, Florence Gibbon of Chicago, Bronwen Zwirner of New Bedford, Leonard Lamb and Constance Lamb of Astoria, Helene Susman and Bill Susman of Great Neck, Corinne Golden of Chicago, Robert Havighurst and Edythe Havighurst of Chicago, Sara Heslep, Sandy Barty, Clara Diamont, Pete Seeger, Steve Nelson, Hannah Frisch, Sue Cohen, Gil Green of NYC, Joan Powers, Clarence Stoecker and Rebecca Hobbs of Chicago, James Bond of Oakland, Pat McGauley, Gabby Rosenstein of Santa Monica, Karl Cannon and Fay Cannon of Camarillo, Loriel Busenbard and Steven Starr, Daniel Starr, Beth Starr and Bob Starr (children of Vicky Starr) were listed as friends of the Lucy Parsons Chapter of the New American Movement.[6]

Communist Party reformer

In 1991 Peggy Lipschutz, Illinois, was one of several hundred Communist Party USA members to sign the a paper "An initiative to Unite and Renew the Party"-most signatories left the Party after the December 1991 conference to found Committees of Correspondence.[7]

CoC National Conference endorser

In 1992 Peggy Lipschutz, artist, Chicago, endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.[8]

Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights

In 1992 Peggy Lipschutz was a member of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, a long time front for the Communist Party USA, then dominated by members of the newly formed Committees of Correspondence.[9]

Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s

The Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s was the Committees of Correspondence's first national conference held in Berkeley, California July 17-19, 1992.[10]

Workshops that were held at the conference on Saturday, July 18 included:[11]

People's Art How to combat defunding, denial of access and cooptation?

Committees of Correspondence

In 1994 Peggy lipshutz, Evanston was listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence, an offshoot of the Communist Party USA[12]

In 1995 Lipschutz was listed[13] as one of the "CoC members and friends" donating to Committees of Correspondence. She contributed $50.

Paul Robeson 100th Birthday Committee

In 1998 Peggy Lipschutz was listed as a volunteer and intern of Paul Robeson 100th Birthday Committee.[14]

Honoring Frank Wilkinson

Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights organized a "Celebration of the The Dynamic Life of Frank Wilkinson (1914-2006)" on Sunday October 29, 2006. Wilkinson had been a leader of the Communist Party USA, the New American Movement and Democratic Socialists of America[15].

Honoring Committee members included Peggy Lipschutz.

DSA member

In 2009 Peggy Lipshutz was a member of Democratic Socialists of America[16]


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