- Longtime Executive Director of the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee
- Former Vice President of the Center for Constitutional Rights
- Co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL)
Edith Tiger was born in Poland on June 10, 1919. She never knew her given Yiddish name, but she became Edith Zwick after her mother immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, for an arranged marriage in 1922. At age 15, Edith dropped out of school and married a young man named Dave Tiger; that marriage eventually ended in divorce.
In 1952 Edith Tiger became a volunteer clerk with the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (NECLC). Four years later, she was hired as a full-time paid employee of that organization. Tiger went on to serve as NECLC’s Director from 1968 until it merged into the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in 1998, at which point she stayed on as CCR’s Vice President.
During her tenure at NECLC, Tiger worked primarily behind the scenes, helping to secure funds for the organization and even handling such mundane tasks as answering the telephone. She was also involved in the process of selecting the winners of NECLC’s annual Tom Paine Award, which was given “in recognition of distinguished service in the fight for civil liberty.” Among the recipients of this award were Bella Abzug, Bob Dylan, Jane Fonda, and Bertrand Russell.
In addition to her work with NECLC, Tiger also served on the Advisory Board of the New York-based Political Rights Defense Fund, which was established in the early 1970s to fight efforts by the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies to surveil the activities of the Socialist Workers Party and its youth arm, the Young Socialist Alliance.
In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Tiger was a Board of Directors member of SANE, A Citizens’ Organization for a Sane World, which had been founded in 1957 as the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. (The organization eventually became known by its current name, Peace Action.)
Moreover, Tiger spent time on the Advisory Board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, and on the Consultative Council of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy. She was also an ardent abortion-rights activist.
Tiger died of a heart attack on October 22, 2002, in Brooklyn, New York.
Further Reading: “Edith Tiger, 83, a Proponent Of Liberties for the Dissident” (NY Times, 10-30-2002); “Edith Tiger” (Keywiki.org); “Political Rights Defense Fund” (Keywiki.org).