Miriam Sherman

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Miriam Sherman, was the eldest of Isador Brooks daughters. Sh was born March 26, 1915. She attended Theodore Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, where she was an honors student. Although she had fulfilled all the requirements for graduation in 1931, she was denied a diploma because she refused to sign a paper saying she would no longer be a member of the Young Communist League. As a consequence, Miriam was denied entrance to college.[1]

Activist life

In November 1932 Miriam was the International Labor Defense (ILD) youth delegate to the World Congress of the International Red Aid in Moscow, as part of her activities on behalf of the "Scottsboro Nine." Also in the delegation were: J. Louis Engdahl, head of the ILD, who died in the USSR; Mother Mooney (Tom Mooney's mother); and Ada Wright (the mother of two of the Scottsboro Boys).

Miriam attended music classes at Chapman College in 1935. Both Miriam and Eleanor Brooks became professional artists, Miriam as a pianist and Eleanor as a dancer. Both worked in the UCLA Physical Education Department, Eleanor as a dance teacher and Miriam as a piano accompanist. Eleanor was a dancer with the Lester Horton Dance Company.

Miriam first married Jack Moore, a Communist Party USA functionary who worked to organize cannery workers in San Pedro, and with whom she had daughter. Miriam's second husband is Allen Sherman, who was expelled from the International Machinists Union in the 1950s because he was accused of being a communist.[2]

"Los Angeles Ten"

In October 1948, a federal grand jury investigating Communist Party USA activity in Los Angeles called Miriam and nine others in for questioning. Upon refusing to answer questions, the "Los Angeles Ten" were arrested, jailed, and held without bail for an indefinite term. Ben Margolis and John McTernan were the attorneys for the "Ten". Miriam was released on her own recognizance at the lawyer's request she be allowed to return to her three year old daughter. Chief Justice Denman, of the San Francisco U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that the terms of imprisonment were unconstitutional and the ten were released, having been held for over a week. Called a second time, and again refusing to answer questions, the "Los Angeles Ten" were then accused of contempt of court and sentenced to a year's imprisonment. This case, which expanded to the "Los Angeles 21", used the Fifth Amendment rights of the defendants as the basis for not responding to the grand jury. All of the "21" were released on bail. This was the first use of the Fifth Amendment in the anti-Communist cases of the era. The Justice Department appealed the release of the "Los Angeles 21" to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a separate but similar case from Denver, the Supreme Court ruled that grand juries could not compel answers to questions such as those posed to the "21". Similar cases during this period, where those who refused to answer questions invoked their First Amendment as protection, were not successful.[3]

In 1949 the University of California implemented a policy of requiring loyalty oaths from faculty, many of whom objected to the practice. During the resulting controversy, California State Senator Jack Tenney launched a campaign against Miriam for her past voter registration with the Communist Party USA. She was fired from UCLA in 1950, ostensibly for violation of a university anti-nepotism employment policy.

Miriam remained active in education and music, working for decades at Children's Music Center.[4]

References