My maternal grandmother was my most effective teacher. Her life and the decisions she made as a young adult served as a powerful example and inspiration. She came of age during the Great Depression and along with many of the other Jews in her community, she became an activist: she unionized textile workers on the East Coast, organized farmers in California’s Central Valley, and led thousands of hungry children in a protest. She was jailed at the age of 14, beaten by police several times, and harassed by the FBI for decades. Her commitment and perseverance, along with that of millions of others, gave us unemployment insurance, many workers’ rights, and social security. My grandmother never went to college (although she had always wanted to) and she never made much money, but she was proud of her accomplishments and her commitment to social justice. My grandmother was a member of the American Communist Party for thirty years and she and my grandfather rose to the highest levels of leadership. During the 1930s, the Communist Party led many of the protests and according to my grandmother, did a lot of good work. But by the late ’30s the Party became more