Magazine article Monthly Review

Remembering Beadie Magdoff

Magazine article Monthly Review

Remembering Beadie Magdoff

Article excerpt

For more than three decades, visitors to Monthly Review's Manhattan offices would be greeted with the slightly raspy, always cheerful "Hi ya" that Beadie Magdoff offered to cabinet ministers, students, revolutionaries, workers, political exiles, and internationally renowned scholars. They came to work with the editors, to join the lunchtime discussions, and, of course, to leave with the latest Monthly Review Press books that Beadie made sure they bought. Beadie was an instrumental part of the daily life of MR, indefatigable not only in the small tasks she took on, but in her insistence on an unyielding passion for social justice as well as a clear focus on the case for socialism.

Beadie came to MR when her husband, Harry Magdoff, joined Paul Sweezy as co-editor in the late sixties, bringing her contagious humor and activist stamina honed over decades, reaching way back to her working class South Bronx neighborhood. It was there that she imbibed the spirit of protest and rebellion against injustice. Her parents and their neighbors were workers and devoted union members. Like them, the young Beatrice Greizer, called Beadie by her friends, understood the workers' struggle. Like them, the fight for the interests of the working class was at the core of her experience. Her mother never missed picket line duty during a strike and so, from preschool days, Beadie marched too. Beadie was educated in the New York City Public School system and the then-tuition-free municipal colleges, earning a Bachelor's degree from Hunter College and a Master's from City College. But when asked about her education she made sure that the inquirer knew that she also had been a student at the Yiddlisher Arbeiter Universitat (Jewish Workers University), a center for Yiddish speaking activists to study Marxism, socialism, and the history and culture of the struggle.

Beadie was an activist all of her life. She took part in May Day parades, in demonstrations in support of the unemployed, the Spanish republic, the civil rights movement, and against the Vietnam war, to name but a few. Beadie continued to march and to demonstrate as long as she could walk. While at Hunter College she helped organize the National Student League. When strikers in Harlan County were shot by police, Beadle and her comrades went to Kentucky to demonstrate with the Students League in support of the strikers.

When she was fifteen, Beadie met Harry Magdoff and three years later, in December 1932, they were married. As they liked to tell it, the wedding took place between meetings of the National Student League and Youth Against War and Fascism.

With the advent of the New Deal, the Magdoffs, like so many others appalled by the depredations of the Great Depression, went to Wasbington to do something about it. They lived in suburban Virginia where, at first, Beadle was occupied with raising their sons Michael and Fred. But as soon as she could, she joined the League of Women Voters, in those days the most progressive organization in reactionary and Jim Crow Virginia. She was elected vice president of the Virginia League and spoke widely at public meetings and on the radio.

With the end of the Second World War, the Magdoffs returned to New York where Beadie was a school teacher, working mainly with early innovative special education programs. …

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