Category Archives: Progressive Activism

1969-1985: 200 Claremont Avenue

When Sheila first moved to New York in the summer of 1968, she shared an apartment with another young woman in the movement, but several months later she moved in with George.

George had been sharing an apartment at 200 Claremont with a few other Columbia students for several years, and then some LNS folks, but in the years that followed, the roommates left and the apartment was filled up with Sheila and George’s children instead.

During the 1970s, in response to the abusive behavior and neglect of the building by the landlord, Sheila worked to organize the tenants, and helped lead them to cooperate on rent strikes, to take legal action against the landlord, and eventually to take control of the building themselves when the landlord was forced to abandon it to City ownership.

Eventually the building at 200 Claremont completed the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board’s Tenant Interim Lease Program and became an HDFC cooperative, allowing the tenants to buy their apartments for a nominal sum.

200-Claremont

1988: Anti-Nuclear Protest

In 1988, Sheila volunteered with the coalition organizing an anti-nuclear march and concert in Central Park.

The event coincided with the Third United Nations Special Session on Disarmament. The coalition says it endorses the abolition of nuclear weapons, self-determination for all nations, an end to military intervention and a shift from military buildups to global economic development.

— From “Disarmament Rally Is Biggest Since 1982“, New York Times, June 12, 1988

2008, 2012: Campaigning for Obama

In both 2008 and 2012, Sheila and George went on road trips to nearby swing states in an effort to get out the vote for Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Her first signs of weakness emerged while she was doing campaign field work near Philadelphia the weekend before the election — although we didn’t know that the weakness was due to cancer for several weeks after that.

As she grew sicker, she continued to take pride in a sense that she and George were responsible for some infinitesimal fraction of Obama’s electoral college votes for Pennsylvania and Virginia.