Russell & Mary Jorgensen
1989 Jack Green Civil Liberties Award Honorees
The first recipients of Jack Green Civil Liberties Award are Mary & Russell Jorgensen. Russell and Mary Jorgensen came to Santa Rosa after a lifetime of work with the American Friends Service Committee. Their work for AFSC included work in Mexico, Israel, Tanzania, Geneva, and Japan.
In the United States, they helped establish some of California’s first American Youth Hostels. Doing pioneering work in race relations, they answered Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to go to Jackson, Mississippi, where they were arrested along with seven other white and two black persons (Mary was the only woman) at a segregated coffee shop in a federally funded airport. This resulted in the Interstate Commerce Commission finally enforcing a previously ignored Supreme Court decision prohibiting segregation at federally funded facilities.
During the McCarthy era, they helped found the Friends Committee on Legislation, which still works on issues concerning human rights and dignity.
Taking a leave of absence for two years from AFSC, Russell headed the Pacifica Foundation, running three radio stations. Prior to retirement, Russell was the Executive Director of the San Francisco AFSC office.
Mary, a nursery school teacher, helped establish the John Woolman School, a Quaker high school near Nevada City. Locally, they have worked for many local causes, including the Sonoma County Sanctuary Covenant, the Sonoma County ACLU chapter (where Russell served as a director for 8 years), Center for Peace and Justice, Nuclear Free Zone (Russell recently served on the steering committee), among others. The commitment of the Jorgensens to the human spirit and to making the world a better place has earned them the respect of many, and the first Jack Green Civil Liberties Award.