Fay Stender

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Fay Stender
Fay Abrahams

March 29, 1932
DiedMay 19, 1980(1980-05-19) (aged 48)
EducationB.A. in English literature; law degree[2]
Alma materReed College; University of California, Berkeley; University of Chicago[2]
Known forPrisoner rights activism
SpouseMarvin Stender[3]
ChildrenNeal and Oriane Stender[3]

Fay Abrahams Stender (March 29, 1932 – May 19, 1980) was an American lawyer from the San Francisco Bay Area, and a prisoner rights activist. Some of her better-known clients included Black Panther leader Huey Newton, and the Soledad Brothers, including Black Guerrilla Family founder George Jackson.

Soledad Brothers and George Jackson[edit]

In 1970, after Stender edited and arranged for Jackson's prison letters to be published as Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, he became a celebrity.[3] She persuaded French intellectual Jean Genet to write an introduction, propelling the book to a best seller.[4] The substantial proceeds from the book went to a legal defense fund that she set up. Stender eventually had a falling out with Jackson over his repeated requests that she smuggle weapons and explosives into the prison.[5][6] Jackson was killed in 1971 during an attempted escape from San Quentin prison.[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

In 1979, Black Guerrilla Family member Edward Glenn Brooks, recently paroled, entered Stender's home in Berkeley, tied up her son, daughter, and her lover Joan Morris[7] and shot Stender several times for what he said was Stender's betrayal of Jackson.[1] Brooks forced Stender to state: "I, Fay Stender, admit I betrayed George Jackson and the prison movement when they needed me most" just before he shot her.[6] Stender was left paralyzed below the waist; in constant pain from her injuries, she committed suicide in Hong Kong about a year later, after testifying against Brooks.[5]

The California Women Lawyers Association has an award dedicated to her memory. Established in 1982, the annual award is given to "a feminist attorney who, like Fay Stender, is committed to the representation of women, disadvantaged groups and unpopular causes, and whose courage, zest for life and demonstrated ability to effect change as a single individual make her a role model for women attorneys."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Fay Stender Is Dead: Activists' Attorney". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 22, 1980. p. B13 – via ProQuest.
  2. ^ a b c "Fay Stender Award". California Women Lawyers. 2013. Archived from the original on April 12, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Perry, Douglas (July 5, 2015). "The Life and Death of Fay Stender". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. pp. 8–9.
  4. ^ Franklin, H. Bruce, ed. (1998). Prison Writing in 20th-Century America. Penguin Books. ISBN 9781440621284. Retrieved July 9, 2015 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b Horowitz, David; Collier, Peter (1981). "Requiem for a Radical". New West Magazine.
  6. ^ a b Russell, Diana E. H. "Fay Stender and the Politics of Murder". On The Issues (Spring 1991). Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  7. ^ Diana Russell (Spring 1991). "Fay Stender and the Politics of Murder". Retrieved March 7, 2019.