Abby Leibman interviewed by Jared Otto, October 28, 2016, Los Angeles, California, Oral History # 5922, transcript, Women Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.
An oral history of Abby Leibman, founder of the California Women’s Law Center and current President and CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. The purpose of this interview is to gather information regarding women in grassroots, activist movements in Southern California. This interview is part of an oral history project, the Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Project. Specifically, this interview talks about Leibman’s childhood in the San Fernando Valley; describes growing up Jewish in a small Jewish community; notes instances of anti-Semitism; discusses the importance of politics in her family; describes her parents impact on her values and political ideals; notes her frustration of that her parents limited her participation in Jewish practice; discusses her years at UCSD; describes her transition from a biology major to a social science major; notes that she decided to pursue law because she saw a career in it; describes her time at Hastings Law School; discusses the impact of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk’s death on the law school and San Francisco community; discusses moving back home to attend UCLA law school after transferring from Hastings; notes that she wanted to work for change; describes her job with Senator Alan Sieroty; discusses her move to the Commission for Sex Equity for the L.A. School Board; describes the difficulty in advocating for women’s rights; notes that this is the starting point for the rest of her advocacy career; describes how anger and victories are what keeps her motivated; discusses how Judaism influences her activism; describes the Jewish ideal of Tikkun Olam; discusses her co-founding of the Women’s Law Center; notes that it came out of a need for a place that advocates solely for women and girls; describes the impact of her sister, Nina’s, murder; notes the difficulties of becoming a single parent; discusses how she then understood what she was advocating for at the Women’s Law Center; describes her move to consultant work for the sheriff’s department and the Los Angles Jewish Federation; discusses how she came to work for MAZON; describes the challenges she has faced since working at MAZON; discusses the issues she is fighting for today; notes the difficulties of Jewish based activism; describes her leadership style; reflects on what it takes to be a successful activist; notes that her greatest accomplishment was the creation of the Women’s Law Center; discusses views on the presidential race of Hillary Clinton; describes what Hillary Clinton’s run means for women; notes that she thinks it is important for women to be involved with politics because they bring a different view to the table; shares her thoughts of what she would say to a women who wanted to become involved with politics and activism; reflects that her two sisters had the significant impact in her life and served has her role models.
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