Tuesday, January 7, 2014


A few days ago, a big and wonderful surprise came to me by email. It brought to life our bond to freedom fighters across rivers of time. In this case, the bond links two people and their comrades in blood-spattered jail cells in Stamford, Connecticut on May 1st 1930 with one’s great granddaughter and another’s son (me).  It connected the first mass demonstrations for unemployment insurance (not enacted until the New Deal) to today’s fight to extend unemployment insurance over cruel reactionary opposition.

Here’s the email exchange:

January 4, 2014

Hello Mr. Wofsy,

I am the great granddaughter of Morris Fitch.  I was extremely surprised to locate an actual picture of him in a book you authored.  This previous summer I began to research my family and when I googled his name it led me to your book which I quickly purchased. The story was so interesting and insightful.  Morris's daughter was my grandmother Susan who was an orphan as her mother passed during her childbirth.  My grandmother was raised in a foster home.  Apparently he did not raise her but she knew him well and shared that he was an activist.  He died when she was in her teens. She passed away many years ago and had very little information about her family.  With the technology of today I fortunately have been able to locate much of our family history.

I am very grateful for your book and sharing this little known history. I am from Stamford as is the majority of my family.  Many were unaware of the events you documented.  I am writing first to express my gratitude for your work and to let you know my family is so appreciative to have found the picture of Morris and the story of his activism.  We would very much like to have a copy of the article with the picture from the book.  If possible can you please send a copy or advise as to how we can secure a clear and complete copy of the article featured in your book.

Thank you again and any additional information will be much appreciated.


Stephanie Paris-Cooper

As a side note I wanted to add that I am currently a school administrator
in the New Haven Public School System and found it interesting that you attended Hillhouse, a school in which I previously taught.

* * *
January 4,2014

Dear Stephanie Paris-Cooper,

I was thrilled to receive your note. This is an immediate response just to tell you how meaningful it is to me. I am now 92 and I've always been so proud of the legacy represented in that story from my childhood, almost 84 years ago. I've told it many, many times, and always the main heroes in my telling are my own father and the incredibly brave Morris Fitch.

I think I can find and send to you a print of the picture with caption that was in my book (Looking for the Future, 1995). Recently I retold the story in a blog:

I'll be in touch as soon as I can find the print.  I wish I knew more about your great grandfather, his life after May 1, 1930, and some of the history of his (and your) family. Thank you so much for writing to me!

Very warm wishes,

* * *

Here’s the picture (click on it to enlarge):

I’ve told the story before, so here’s just a brief reminder of background. The Mayor denied a permit for the demonstration, as he had done on March 6th when 7,000 demonstrated anyway in peaceful defiance, and several (including my father) were arrested when they tried to speak. My father was given a “confidential” message that there would be hell to pay if there was another demonstration on May 1st. So several, including Morris Fitch and my father, came ready to be arrested, and they were as each spoke up in succession from various places in the huge crowd. All was peaceful until they were in jail. The caption on the picture tells the rest. One addition: they were left to bleed without medical attention until word leaked out, and my mother brought our family doctor to the jail to demand access to the wounded.

My father, brutally beaten himself, always marveled at Morris Fitch who got the worst beating of all.

Need it be noted: how rare it was for comradeship between black and white in a time when Jim Crow ruled with virtually no challenge within white America?


  1. Mr. Wofsy, what a tremendously informative and powerful story about your father and his relationship/friendship with Mr. Morris Fitch. These are the stories usually left out of our history/herstory books. Thank you for posting. In Solidarity!

  2. this is indeed a wonderful story. thanks for telling it to us.


  3. What an incredible connection with the past. I agree with another comment that these are the stories left out of history books...the stories that would actually make history meaningful to our students. Wonderful reading.