Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #71

Emma Goldman (1869 – 1940)

71 Emma Goldman

The Broadway musical Ragtime features a song called “The Night That Goldman Spoke at Union Square,” touching on the fiery influence anarchist and orator Emma Goldman had on thousands of followers. In history, there were several such nights, as Union Square was a common and popular place for political protest and Goldman was a frequent contributor to the national dialogue on topics such as free love, capitalism, suffrage, equal rights, and atheism. Publisher of Mother Earth, a magazine focused on labor, education, and government, Goldman was occasionally more actively involved in protests and uprisings, frequently being arrested and occasionally jailed for her involvement. Eventually, in 1919, she was deported to her native Russia where she saw the Revolution in action and was soon disillusioned with Soviet practices, writing about this experience for The New York World. A captivating and charismatic character, Goldman has been depicted in several works of drama, most notably by Maureen Stapleton in her Academy Award-winning performance in Reds.


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