One of the organizers of the 1963 Boycott, Roberta Galler (pictured above, center) passed away on Wednesday. She leaves behind a legacy of Civil Rights activism.
Retired Chicago teacher Fred Klonsky posted this on his blog:
Fellow Boycott organizers Don Rose and Rosie Simpson, both featured in our forthcoming documentary, sent us statements as well.
“Roberta’s death is a real loss. So smart, dedicated and competent. Working alongside her in numerous civil rights activities in Chicago was a pleasure, a privilege and a major learning experience. She is one of the few people who really made things happen while others stood before the cameras and took the credit. I was especially impressed when she told me about working “undercover” as kind of a spy in a white racist/anti-Semitic group–I believe for a Jewish agency. Took guts and courage in addition to all the qualities I mentioned above.”
“Roberta was an extraordinary person. Roberta was really committed to the movement and was an inspiration to a lot of people, especially in the SNCC office. She was a dynamic person. I’m grateful that our paths crossed, and her personality was just – I wish I could’ve had a personality like hers. She always smiled, was always upbeat, and always positive.”
“I was deeply saddened to read of the death of Roberta Galler. She was truly an instrumental and important part of the history of SNCC in Chicago and the boycott.”
Learn more about her life here.
I have had the pleasure of working with her nephew for 20 + years. I see where his caring thoughtful personality has come. Just from what Bruce has told me and the little I have read, I know she and I would have clicked instantly. My warm thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends that were lucky enough to know and love her. Pat McGuire
Roberta was remembered in Mississippi at the 9th Annual Conference of the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. During the part of our conference set aside to remember our Fallen Veterans, I read tributes from Curtis Muhammad, Ira Grupper and James Forman. Ira was present and appreciated being remembered along with Roberta for the work they did together to move forward the Disability Rights Movement. Curtis sent his greetings from Brazil. Jim’s words came from autograph he wrote in Roberta’s copy of his book “the High tide of Black Resistance”. Dorie Ladner, one of the first women activists in Mississippi SNCC/MFDP/COFO spoke of how great an influence Roberta was on her when she stayed with Roberta in Chicago when she’d gone to visit Clyde Kennard when he was very ill.
She spoke of how Roberta’s enthusiasm and ideas were very enjoyable and opened up ways of looking at the world. Rev Willie Blue, Chaplain of the Vets of the MCRM, also spoke of how helpful and supportive Roberta was to him when he was up in Chicago. Marilyn put this together, thanks to the support of Roberta’s nephew Bruce Galler and her close friends.
Roberta’s photographs appeared in the Souvenir Booklet of the 9th Annual VMCRM Conference.