Call Me Phaedra: The Life and Times of Movement Lawyer Fay Stender chronicles the extraordinary life of a Jewish activist during the McCarthy Era, the Civil Rights Movement, Free Speech Era, the rise of black power, and the Women’s Rights Movement. A child prodigy at the piano, Fay quickly became the center of attention in her extended Bay Area family of Orthodox and Reform Jews. Her immigrant Polish grandfather taught her by example the Biblical injunction to help the needy. Fay struggled with her Jewish identity throughout her life, abandoning religion in college, and returning to its solace in her late forties.
Radicalized in college, she became a rare female criminal defense lawyer and ground-breaking prisoners’ rights advocate, most famous for representing black militants Huey Newton and George Jackson. Her work won her international acclaim as a top Movement lawyer but propelled her to a tragic end. At her funeral, she was hailed as a true mensch, compelled to act on a strong sense of right and wrong in an era of white-male monopoly power.