Victor Rabinowitz

Victor Rabinowitz

Victor Rabinowitz was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 2nd July 1911. His father was a Jewish immigrant who had devised machinery to sew fasteners on women's foundation garments.

Rabinowitz graduated with a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1934. He joined a New York law firm where he specialized in trade union cases. He also became a member of the American Labor Party. Later he joined the American Communist Party.

In 1944 Rabinowitz established his own law firm. Later he took on a partner, Leonard Boudin. Both men were committed radicals and they represented union leaders prosecuted under the Taft-Hartley Act.

In 1949 Rabinowitz and Boudin successfully represented Judith Coplon who had been charged with espionage. They also represented several artists persecuted as a result of McCarthyism. This included challenging government efforts to prohibit Rockwell Kent and Paul Robeson from travelling.

Victor Rabinowitz also helped administer the Rabinowitz Foundation which gave away more than $3m to research and scholarship. Rabinowitz was a strong supporter of the Civil Rights movement and provided funds for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He also travelled to the Deep South to take part in Freedom Summer. It was during this work that he met and married the African-American historian Joanne Grant, the author of Black Protest: History, Documents, And Analysis 1619 To The Present (1968) and Ella Baker: Freedom Bound (1998).

In 1960 Rabinowitz became the legal representative of the Fidel Castro government in Cuba. This included defending Cuba against corporations' attempts to seize Cuban property in the United States. Rabinowitz later served in the same role for the Salvador Allende government in Chile.

Rabinowitz was also involved in the protest movement against the Vietnam War. This included defending Daniel Berrigan, Daniel Ellsberg and Benjamin Spock. Rabinowitz was a founding member of the National Lawyers Guild and served as its president for three years.

Victor Rabinowitz died on 16th November, 2007.