Frida Berrigan Book Discussion: From Daughter of Radicals to Rebellious Mom

Tax Day protest
Frida Berrigan participates in an anti-nuclear protest before the Federal Building in Baltimore, Maryland, 1979.

How does one become a “radical mom”? As the daughter of peace activists Philip Berrigan and Liz McAlister, Frida Berrigan probably has a clearer sense of this than most. Among her earliest experiences include the periodic imprisonment of her parents for protest actions. Phil was arrested over 100 times and spent more than eleven years behind bars over the course of his life. Liz, who was imprisoned when her children were still toddlers, wrote over a hundred loving letters to them during the span of 1976-1977. In her 2001 Pax Christi speech, Frida recounts the “seeds” of social consciousness planted in her youth. She describes a childhood of reading Barefoot Gen stories about the Hiroshima bombing, wearing secondhand clothes, carrying placards at protest rallies, and summers spent working in homeless shelters.

In her new book, It Runs in the Family: On Being Raised by Radicals and Growing into Rebellious Motherhood, Frida Berrigan infuses lessons from her own childhood into a larger discussion of the challenges of parenting in a culture grappling with violence, racism, environmental destruction, and other social issues.

It Runs in the FamilyPlease join us for Frida Berrigan’s book discussion.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 4:00pm

John T. Richardson Library, Room 300

In conjunction with her visit, an exhibit about Frida’s childhood in Baltimore’s Jonah House can be viewed on the third floor in the case outside of Special Collections and Archives through March 2015. Founded in 1973 by Philip Berrigan and Liz McAlister, Jonah House is a nonviolent resistance community that is part of a network of individuals and communities along the East Coast of the United States that calls itself “The Atlantic Life Community.” "Children of Conscience"Through retreats, peace actions, and friendships, the Jonah House community maintains connections to the Catholic Worker Movement, a group of lay Catholics following the tradition of Dorothy Day. Its members are part of a faith-based community that engages in acts of nonviolent resistance and who share resources and live in simplicity. Jonah House’s main goal from 1973 to 1975 was to oppose the Vietnam War. In the mid-1970s, they began to focus on nuclear arms resistance which eventually led to the foundation of the Plowshares Movement. Phil and Liz lived in Jonah House since its founding and raised their three children, Frida (b. 1974), Jerry (b. 1975), and Kate (b. 1981) in the community.

DePaul University Special Collections and Archives holds the papers of Philip Berrigan and Liz McAlister, along with the papers of other Berrigan family members and fellow community activists: Daniel Berrigan, Jerome Berrigan, Elmer Maas Plowshares, Collection on Peace Activism, and Murray Polner. For more information, contact Special Collections and Archives at or stop by our department in the John T. Richardson Library, Room 314.

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