Call Me Phae­dra: The Life and Times of Move­ment Lawyer Fay Stender

  • From the Publisher
January 1, 2013

Call Me Phae­dra: The Life and Times of Move­ment Lawyer Fay Sten­der chron­i­cles the extra­or­di­nary life of a Jew­ish activist dur­ing the McCarthy Era, the Civ­il Rights Move­ment, Free Speech Era, the rise of black pow­er, and the Women’s Rights Move­ment. A child prodi­gy at the piano, Fay quick­ly became the cen­ter of atten­tion in her extend­ed Bay Area fam­i­ly of Ortho­dox and Reform Jews. Her immi­grant Pol­ish grand­fa­ther taught her by exam­ple the Bib­li­cal injunc­tion to help the needy. Fay strug­gled with her Jew­ish iden­ti­ty through­out her life, aban­don­ing reli­gion in col­lege, and return­ing to its solace in her late forties. 

Rad­i­cal­ized in col­lege, she became a rare female crim­i­nal defense lawyer and ground-break­ing pris­on­ers’ rights advo­cate, most famous for rep­re­sent­ing black mil­i­tants Huey New­ton and George Jack­son. Her work won her inter­na­tion­al acclaim as a top Move­ment lawyer but pro­pelled her to a trag­ic end. At her funer­al, she was hailed as a true men­sch, com­pelled to act on a strong sense of right and wrong in an era of white-male monop­oly power.

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