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Standing up for justice for all! Carol Rogoff Hallstrom

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BWE Womens Empowering Radio

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The Making of an Activist

Carol Rogoff (Hallstrom) grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Like many of the children of Russian Jewish immigrants, she developed a strong sense of social justice early in life. 

Her father, Jacob Rogoff, was a native of Ukraine whose parents brought him to the United States when he was five. Jews in Eastern Europe had long endured persecution, and the beacon of liberty shone brightly on immigrant families who escaped the pogroms, beatings, political oppression, and other forms of discrimination.

When, as an American, Jacob performed well in school, he was not persecuted, as he would have been in Ukraine, but instead offered a scholarship to Yale University. From there he went to medical school, also on scholarship, where he won the Campbell Gold Medal as the graduate with the highest ranking of all students. And, like so many first-generation immigrants, he remained in awe of the freedom and opportunity that the United States offered him—and, in theory, every American.

Reared in such an atmosphere, Carol’s recognition of social injustice made it impossible for her to close her eyes to the blatant victimization of black Americans. While still a college student she began working with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on Freedom Rides and sit-ins. The summer after her graduation from Beaver College (now Arcadia University) outside of Philadelphia, she became a fulltime member of the SNCC staff working on desegregation efforts, first in Maryland’s Eastern Shore and then in southwest Mississippi.