Tony Mazzocchi convinced Ronnie Eldridge, the editor of Ms. Magazine, to cover the Karen Silkwood story. Eldridge assigned B. J. Phillips, who wrote “The Case of Karen Silkwood” for the magazine in the spring of 1975. Mazzocchi also worked with Howard Kohn at Rolling Stone, who in March wrote a more provocative piece titled “The Nuclear Industry's Terrible Power and How It Silenced Karen Silkwood.” Barbara Newman did a March segment for National Public Radio, updating her December report.
The Ms. connection ignited two feminist organizers, Kitty Tucker and Sarah Nelson, from the National Organization for Women , to pick up the Silkwood story. “It would be terrific if the women's movement does something about this,” Mazzocchi told them.
Tucker and Nelson set up Supporters of Silkwood . They made November 13, 1975, Karen Silkwood Memorial Day, and put her front and center in NOW's “Stop Violence Against Women” campaign. They mobilized local chapters to write to their senators asking for a congressional investigation. They circulated petitions. They notified the local press and held rallies and candlelight parades in several cities to the cry of “Who Killed Karen Silkwood?” Their superb organizing, coupled with increasing interest in the women's movement, drew the media.
When NOW leaders visited the Justice Department in August 1975 to demand a thorough investigation of Silkwood's death, according to one account “nearly 100 reporters and TV crew members were waiting in the corridor and on the stone steps.”
The activists shepherded Silkwood's cause through congressional hearings and into a 1979 civil trial pleaded by Danny Sheehan, an idealistic young lawyer, and the more seasoned and famed attorney Gerry Spense. After the longest civil trial in Oklahoma history, the jury awarded Karen's father and children a $10.5 million verdict against Kerr-McGee.*
- Kerr-McGee appealed, and in 1985 the Tenth Circuit Court ordered a new trial. Kerr-McGee then offered the family $1.38 million; the case was settled out of court .
Federation for Progress
The Federation for Progress was another attempt to create a new Marxist united front organization, much like similar efforts of the People's Alliance and the National Committee for Independent Political Action.
The FFP put a half-page ad in the "socialist" oriented weekly newspaper, In These Times in the July 14-27, 1982 issue, p. 8, entitled: "A natural follow-up to June 12: A national conference July 30-August 1 at Columbia Un., in New York City".
It was a follow-up conference to the major "anti-defense lobby" march and protest in New York on June relating to the U.N. Second Special Session on Disarmament.
The FPP Interim Executive Committee consisted of;
- Judy Chu - Professor Asian-American Studies, Los Angeles
- Michio Kaku- nuclear physicist
- Frances Hubbard - teacher of community health and social medicine, City University of New York
- Dr. Arjun Makijani - nuclear disarmament activist
- Manning Marable - Professor of Political Economy
- Musheer Robinson - Executive Director, Black and Latin Workers Health & Safety Resource Center, Newark, NJ
- Tony To - Federation For Progress National Staff
- Kitty Tucker - Non-Nuclear World, Supporters of Silkwood
- [Workers Viewpoint May 27, 1982]
- The man who hated work, and loved labor