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Harriet Sheila Tanzman

October 12, 1940 May 5, 2020
Harriet Sheila Tanzman
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Obituary for Harriet Sheila Tanzman

Harriet Sheila Tanzman was born in Brooklyn, NY, October 12, 1940 to Abraham and Miriam Tanzman and died May 5, 2020 at Manhattan Nursing Home in Jackson, MS following a stroke and a fall.

While a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Harriet began her lifelong activism for civil rights and peace with the W.E.B. DuBois Club and the Congress of Racial Equality, then with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Atlanta and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Gadsden and Selma, AL. During Freedom Summer 1964, she worked in Holly Springs, MS, then in Holmes County with MS Freedom Democratic Party elections, and against the Vietnam War in 1966.

In 1968, Harriet set up the audio tape archive at Highlander Center in Tennessee, then worked in progressive, alternative media for many years in San Francisco and New York. She conducted dozens of interviews with Holmes County activists and others that are in the McCain Library at the University of Southern MS, the Tamiment Library, and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive.

Since returning to live in MS in April 2004, Harriet participated in many organizations and served on the Board of Directors of Veterans of the MS Civil Rights Movement.

Harriet Tanzman is quoted extensively in Debra L. Schultz, Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement, Pamela S. Nadell, ed., American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader, and interviews with the League of Women Voters of Mississippi and the Veterans of the MS Civil Rights Movement.

She is survived by her nephews, David Tanzman and John Tanzman (Bridget), her nieces Robyn Ochs (Peg Preble) and Jill Steinberg (Scott), her sister-in-law Rozzy Tanzman, grand nieces and nephews, many cousins and dear friends. She was predeceased in 2018 by her brother, Daniel Tanzman. The family would like to thank friends Sally Fran Ross, Sheila O’Flaherty, and Jan Hillegas for their extraordinary support and thoughtful care during Harriet’s recent years.

“Don`t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don`t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” Albert Camus

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