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Thomas Jefferson High School
Thomas Jefferson High School

Welcome to
Dreamers and Fighters

This is the Web site of the in-production documentary, Dreamers and Fighters: 
The NYC Teacher Purges

This Web site is an attempt to further reach out — to those familiar with the impact of McCarthyism on a local level in New York City, and to those who would like the know more about it. Click your way through for a look at the History of the period, video clips from the Documentary, Multimedia Archive from teachers, and for ongoing developments about the documentary and related Current Events. And don’t forget to join the conversation on the Message Board.

The documentary originated with Sophie-Louise Ullman as an effort to honor the members of the New York City Teachers Union. Her parents, and many other New York City teachers, were members.

The Teachers Union was founded in 1916, and forced out of existence in 1964, a victim, together with many of its members, of a blacklisting effort that paralleled the one conducted in Hollywood. Far less known than the show business red hunts of the McCarthy years, the effort by New York’s Board of Education to weed out teachers it considered politically unfit to teach the city’s children ultimately led to investigations of some 1,100 teachers. More than 400 were forced out of their jobs through forced resignations and retirements and outright dismissal.

The Teachers Union and its members sought, and fought, to improve the education and better the lives of the children in their classrooms. They fought for better pay and better working conditions for teachers. At no time in the two-decade campaign against them were any of them charged with bringing their politics into their lesson plans.

Dreamers and Fighters will tell their story, and the story of their union. And as this Web site develops, it will add information on what they went through and how they fought back. We welcome your participation in building it, and we welcome your stories and your memories of some very tough times.

On this Web site, Sophie-Louise Ullman explains the inspiration for Dreamers and Fighters.  Her daughter, Ginny Browne, will tell Sophie-Louise’s story and producer
Lori Styler will talk about the story behind the documentary, Dreamers and Fighters:
The NYC Teacher Purges.