Norma Becker Papers, 1961-1975 (bulk 1963-1968)


Political and social activist Norma Becker was born in the Bronx in 1930 to Russian Jewish immigrant parents. No doubt many of her later political and social ideas and actions were shaped by her father, a motion picture projectionist active in the socialist wing of the trade union movement. She attended Hunter College, married in 1950, and raised two children. In 1956 she began teaching on a part time basis at two private schools, Greek Hellenic Cathedral School and Kaliski School for Emotionally Disturbed Children. From 1959 through 1973 she taught at P.S. 84 in the Upper West Side.

Norma Becker first became involved in the civil rights movement in 1963. That summer she went south to teach in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The following year she was active in gathering support from New York City school teachers for the COFO Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. That summer she again went south, this time to Greenville, Mississippi, to teach. Out of these experiences grew her eventual conversion to a non-violent philosophy.

Beginning in 1965 she first became concerned by the U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam. That year she organized the Teachers Committee for Peace in Vietnam and assisted in the organization of the Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee. Then followed active participation in a number of national anti-war groups. In 1977 she organized Mobilization for Survival.