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Judy Freespirit papers, 1971-1993 LSC.1956
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Judy Freespirit was born Judith Louise Berkowitz in 1936 in Detroit, Michigan to a working class Jewish family of Eastern European descent. She pointed to her early life as formative for her political and activist work and credits theatre and dancing as positive outlets for frustration. Judy Freespirit was a lifelong activist and advocate for Jewish, lesbian, and fat rights. With a background in radical therapeutic theory and practice as well as a community organizational ethic, she formed the Fat Underground in 1976, an organization devoted to both informing and mobilizing the public. Freespirit was also a writer and performer, lending her talents to a traveling Anti Briggs Initiative show and continuing to perform in both group and individual contexts. She continued to perform, educate, and counsel up until her death in 2008. This collection includes materials with her married name, Judith Ackerman because she continued to use it for legal purposes after her marriage. It contains written and published materials by Judy Freespirit, as well as other materials that are part of her personal collection of political writings and community information. The bulk of the writings in this collection are focused on Freespirit's fat activism, specifically through her involvement with both Radical Therapy practices and the Fat Underground.
Judy Freespirit was born Judith Louise Berkowitz in 1936 in Detroit, Michigan to a working class Jewish family of Eastern European descent. She often pointed to her early life as formative for her political and activist work and credited theatre and dancing as positive outlets for the frustration of being pressured to diet at the age of eight and the trauma of being an incest survivor. She attended Michigan State University for two years and majored in drama before marrying. She moved to Japan with her husband after he was drafted, giving birth to her son Joe abroad. She, Joe, and her husband moved to Los Angeles in 1960 where she finished college and began her work in the psychiatric field, completing her Master's Degree at the age of 35. Through her discovery of the Women's Liberation Movement in Los Angeles and her professional background, Judy developed and began to share her Radical Therapy skills with the feminist community in small group settings. During this period she came out as a lesbian and left her husband. Along with four others, Judy founded the Fat Underground in 1976. When she moved to the Bay Area she also founded the Fat Lip Reader's Theatre, a collective of fat women writing and performing comedic, dramatic and musical theatre. In 1978, Judy became involved in working to stop the Briggs Initiative and travelled around California raising awareness and funds for its defeat. After its defeat, she moved to the Berkeley/Oakland area and became more focused on her Jewish identity, involving herself in a Jewish Lesbian Writer's group in 1982 and performing and participating at the Jewish Feminist Conference in San Francisco. After struggling with asthma and the discovery of severe allergies, Judy became active in the disability movement, working with the World Institute on Disabilities. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Judy wrote and performed prolifically, creating one-woman shows dealing with her life as a fat, Jewish, lesbian incest survivor with disabilities. She published in journals, spoke at health conferences, provided counseling, and made people laugh. Up until her death she remained an advocate, calling for more visibility of the gay and lesbian community in elder care housing, specifically in San Francisco's The Jewish Home where she passed away in 2010.
0.6 linear feet (1 document box, 1 half-sized document box)
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