In Memoriam: Lucille Perlman

Lucille Perlman

As remembered by Bill Perlman

January 15, 2016
Sadly, my mother, Lucille Perlman died early this morning at home. She was 101.

She was a gentle warrior working for causes that supported her philosophy of justice and civil rights. Most significantly she volunteered for the ILD in the 1930s, and for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s and was on, and chaired the board of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Both her sons followed her lead. Lee, who passed away a couple of years ago as a crusading journalist in Portland, Oregon and Bill who was SNCC staff and still performs with the Freedom Singers.

She stayed true her beliefs through the end. She died peacefully in her sleep with her family by her side.

My mother had actually become a staff member of SNCC a year or a year and a half before I did. She worked in the New York office, and her job was to maintain the mailing list, which at that time was kept on metal plates. And so, she worked there and did that as part of publicity and fundraising aspects, sending out mailings, keeping the list up to date, etcetera.

I was in high school and I was a member of a Lower Manhattan Students for Peace in high school, which was a group that was primarily protesting against testing of nuclear weapons. But since she was at the New York SNCC office, I would go there a lot and help out, and I met many of the SNCC people while I was still in high school. We also hosted fundraising parties. We had a house out on Long Island, and some of the field secretaries would come out for a rest.

I had been playing the guitar since about age eight and singing, and there was one fundraising party out there, and they didn’t have a Freedom Singer available, so I played some songs. Jim Forman was there, and Forman told me — this was just as I was turning eighteen, I guess — that the Freedom Singers were looking for a guitarist, they were looking for a white guitarist, and would I be interested. And that’s how I started in 1965. [from an interview Bill gave in 2010].

Lucille Perlman’s brother was [civil rights lawyer] Victor Rabinowitz.
(Source: Civil Rights Movement Archive)

Lucille Perlman