24 April 2013

RAG RADIO / Thorne Dreyer : Yippie Pioneers Judy Gumbo Albert and Nancy Kurshan 'Tell It Like It Was'

 Judy Gumbo Albert, left, and Nancy Kurshan, photographed in Hanoi, January 2013, were our guests on Rag Radio April 13, 2013.
Rag Radio podcast:
Sixties activists and original Yippies
Judy Gumbo Albert and Nancy Kurshan
Judy and Nancy discuss their recent trip to Vietnam and reminisce about their experiences in the Sixties, the legacy of the Yippies, and their lives and work in the ensuing years.
By Rag Radio / The Rag Blog / April 24, 2013

Writers and activists Judy Gumbo Albert and Nancy Kurshan, who were original members of the historic Youth International Party (Yippies) -- the theatrical New Left activist group that was founded in 1967 -- were Thorne Dreyer's guests on Rag Radio, Friday, April 13, 2013.

Rag Radio is a syndicated radio program produced at the studios of KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin, Texas.

Listen to or download our interview with Judy Gumbo Albert and Nancy Kurshan here:

Judy and Nancy -- and their respective partners at the time, Stew Albert and Jerry Rubin --  were original Yippies, along with Abbie Hoffman, Anita Hoffman, and Paul Krassner.

The Yippies were an anarchist-leaning Sixties group known for their street theater and symbolic political actions that merged New Left and countercultural values. They gained mass exposure through actions like throwing money onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and running a pig for president.

Early this year, Albert and Kurshan visited North Vietnam as part of a delegation of activists who had originally visited the country during the war and were now celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords. The two of them had also been part of a Yippie trip to North Vietnam in 1970.

In a photo essay about the recent trip -- which was published in The Rag Blog -- Judy wrote: "Everywhere we traveled we were warmly welcomed. The Vietnamese still feel grateful to the U.S. peace movement. I came to understand that while my trip in 1970 was life changing, this trip was life affirming."

Judy and Nancy discussed their trip to Vietnam with the Rag Radio audience, and also reminisced about their experiences in the Sixties and the legacy of the Yippies, and about their lives and work in the ensuing years. They also reflected on sexism in the Yippies and other Sixties groups and addressed continuing issues like women's reproductive rights and prison reform.

Nancy Kurshan, left, and Judy Gumbo Albert in Vietnam, 1970.
Judy Gumbo Albert, Ph.D., who also wrote for underground newspapers the Berkeley Barb and the Berkeley Tribe, helped stage the Women’s March on the Pentagon and the Mayday demonstrations in Washington D.C., in 1971.

In 1975, Albert discovered a tracking device on her car and was part of a lawsuit that successfully challenged warrantless wiretapping. She recently won an award for an essay, "Bugged," about the incident; her story will be included in an upcoming anthology of women's writings about the Sixties and seventies.

Albert has taught Sociology and Women’s Studies at East and West Coast colleges and for years was an award-winning fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. She is co-author of The Sixties Papers: Documents of a Rebellious Decade (1984) and is currently completing her memoir, Yippie Girl. Judy lives in Berkeley Cohousing in Berkeley, California.

Nancy Kurshan was a staff member of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, helped organize the 1968 Democratic Convention protests, and worked on the Chicago 8 trial. She attended the 1970 Stockholm Peace Conference and helped stage anti-war demonstrations outside the U.S. Consulate in Moscow and elsewhere. Nancy was also a founder of the feminist guerrilla theater group, W.I.T.C.H.

Nancy was a social worker for 20 years in the Chicago public schools. A prison reform activist, she was a founding member of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown; her prison work has focused on racist aspects of incarceration, the issue of political prisoners, and the proliferation of long-term solitary confinement. She is the author of Out of Control: A 15 Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons published by the Freedom Archives in January 2013.

See Jonah Raskin's fascinating and revealing Rag Blog interviews with Nancy Kurshan and Judy Gumbo Albert. Also see "Writing for the Hell of it" by Judy Gumbo Albert on The Rag Blog.

Rag Radio has aired since September 2009 on KOOP 91.7-FM, an all-volunteer cooperatively-run community radio station in Austin, Texas. Hosted and produced by Rag Blog editor and long-time alternative journalist Thorne Dreyer, a pioneer of the Sixties underground press movement, Rag Radio is broadcast every Friday from 2-3 p.m. (CDT) on KOOP, and is rebroadcast on Sundays at 10 a.m. (EDT) on WFTE, 90.3-FM in Mt. Cobb, PA, and 105.7-FM in Scranton, PA.

The show is streamed live on the web by both stations and, after broadcast, all Rag Radio shows are posted as podcasts at the Internet Archive.

Rag Radio is produced in association with The Rag Blog, a progressive Internet newsmagazine, and the New Journalism Project, a Texas 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Tracey Schulz is the show's engineer and co-producer.

Rag Radio can be contacted at ragradio@koop.org.

Coming up on Rag Radio:
THIS FRIDAY, April 26, 2013:
Activist and radio host Pedro Gatos and Val Liveoak of Friends' Peace Teams' Peacebuilding en las Americas on changes in Cuba, Venezuela & the Global South.
May 3, 2013: Free-form radio pioneer Bob Fass of Pacifica Radio's WBAI-FM in New York, with filmmaker Paul Lovelace (Radio Unnameable).
May 17, 2013: Political economist Gar Alperovitz, author of What Then Must We Do?
May 24, 2013 (RESCHEDULED): Amsterdam-based poet John Sinclair, legendary founder of the White Panther Party and former manager of the MC5.

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