loretta-starvus-stack

Loretta Starvus Stack, 1913-2001

Loretta Starvus Stack, 1913-2001

Loretta Starvus Stack, 1913-2001
A native of Connecticut, at age 14 Loretta Starvus was working under dismal conditions as a silk weaver in a “company town.” She soon became a “lieutenant” of union leader Ann Burlak, “The Red Flame”. At 17, Loretta co-led a strike, protecting 300 women and children from police. Determined to organize, she joined the Young Communist League and received training in Moscow. After World War II, Loretta married Walter Stack, a longshoreman and participant in San Francisco’s Big Strike organized by Harry Bridges in 1934. She organized for Ahren’s Bakery, and as California State Organizing Secretary for the Communist Party, Loretta was one of 11 arrested by federal agents who aimed to “destroy the US Communist Party in the west.” Loretta and her co-defendants were charged Under the Sedition (Smith) Act of 1940 that made it illegal to willfully teach and advocate the overthrow of the government, opening the gates for the McCarthy Era. Her case went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1957. Because the First Amendment “allows discussion, [and] advocacy, no matter how obnoxious and antagonistic such views may be,” all convictions and the Smith Act were overturned, helping to enable the peaceful protests of today.

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  1. Loretta Starvus Stack, 1913-2001
    A native of Connecticut, at age 14 Loretta Starvus was working under dismal conditions as a silk weaver in a “company town.” She soon became a “lieutenant” of union leader Ann Burlak, “The Red Flame”. At 17, Loretta co-led a strike, protecting 300 women and children from police. Determined to organize, she joined the Young Communist League and received training in Moscow. After World War II, Loretta married Walter Stack, a longshoreman and participant in San Francisco’s Big Strike organized by Harry Bridges in 1934. She organized for Ahren’s Bakery, and as California State Organizing Secretary for the Communist Party, Loretta was one of 11 arrested by federal agents who aimed to “destroy the US Communist Party in the west.” Loretta and her co-defendants were charged Under the Sedition (Smith) Act of 1940 that made it illegal to willfully teach and advocate the overthrow of the government, opening the gates for the McCarthy Era. Her case went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1957. Because the First Amendment “allows discussion, [and] advocacy, no matter how obnoxious and antagonistic such views may be,” all convictions and the Smith Act were overturned, helping to enable the peaceful protests of today.

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