Mary Morello

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Mary Morello
Born (1923-10-01) October 1, 1923 (age 99)
EducationM.S. Loyola University
OccupationHigh school teacher
SpouseNgethe Njoroge
ChildrenTom Morello
FamilyNjoroge Mungai (brother-in-law)
Jemimah Gecaga (sister-in-law)

Mary Morello (born October 1, 1923) is an American activist who founded the anti-censorship group Parents for Rock and Rap in 1987.

Early life[edit]

Morello was born in 1923 in Marseilles, Illinois. In 1954, she earned a master's degree in African and Latin American/Peru history at Loyola University in Chicago. She spent the rest of the decade teaching English in Germany, Peru, and Japan while once circling the globe on a freighter.[1]

From 1960–63, Morello lived in Kenya where she married Ngethe Njoroge[2] (brother of Njoroge Mungai and Jemimah Gecaga), an activist who promoted Kenyan independence from the British during the Mau Mau Uprising (1952–1960)[3][4] and later became the first Kenyan delegate to the United Nations.


In the 1960s, Morello was involved in the Civil Rights Movement and the NAACP. She is a long-time activist for the Chicago Urban League. In 1964, she and her husband moved to Harlem, New York,[5] where she gave birth to their son, Tom.

Morello and Ngethe divorced when Tom was one year old in 1965.[4] Morello then moved with her son to Libertyville, Illinois, a small suburb north of Chicago. She took a job at Libertyville High School teaching social studies and US history.[1] In 1987, she quit her teaching job of twenty-two years and founded Parents for Rock and Rap,[6] an anti-censorship counterweight to Tipper Gore's Parents Music Resource Center. She made three trips to the Soviet Union, through Siberia and Mongolia.

In 1991, Morello and many others battled against legislation being proposed in Congress titled Pornography Victims Compensation Act, numbered S. 983, or, later, S. 1521. The legislation was not enacted, in part because of grass-roots activism. On June 24, 1996, she received the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award[7] in Arts and Entertainment for her work with Parents for Rock and Rap.

In the fall of 1991, Morello began a volunteer teaching job at the Salvation Army[8] Rehabilitation Center in Waukegan, Illinois, where she taught adult literacy. She was involved in the Cuba Coalition in Chicago, which works toward lifting the U.S. embargo against Cuba.[citation needed]

Morello is also known for her involvement in the 1999 debate on the incarceration of death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted (some believe wrongly) of the 1982 shooting of a Philadelphia police officer. In an editorial she said:

"When a cop is shot someone must be found guilty. As my son Tom says, '...all rational thinking goes out the window'. A cop being killed is no different than any other person being killed. They choose their profession."[9]

In 2007, Morello had a podcast together with Cindy Sheehan called The Mary Morello and Cindy Sheehan Show.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Before Rage Against the Machine hit the stage at the Pinkpop Festival in 1994, Morello introduced them as the "Best Band in the Fucking Universe".[11] On August 24, 2007, for the Rage Against the Machine reunion, she appeared again. On September 13, 2016 at a Prophets of Rage concert, she introduced them as "The best fucking band in the universe."[12][13]


  1. ^ a b "The Mary Morello and Cindy Sheehan Show" (episode 06). Axis of Justice. August 6, 2007. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  2. ^ "Tom Morello". 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-03-11. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  3. ^ Dome, Malcolm (November 1, 2006). "My Life Story: Tom Morello". MetalHammer.
  4. ^ a b Holthouse, David (September 26, 1996). "Bottled Anger Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello pours forth the vitriol". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  5. ^ Beaubien, Greg (August 23, 1995). "Freedom Fighter: 71-Year-Old Mary Morello Vigorously Campaigns For Rock 'n' Roll's Right To Rap Free". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2004-12-20. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  6. ^ Johnson, Kevin (2003). "PARENTS FOR ROCK & RAP". Rock Out Censorship. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  7. ^ "BCFE Names 1995/1996 Heroes and Villains". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 1996. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  8. ^ DiNovella, Elizabeth. "Tom Morello Interview". The Progressive Magazine. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  9. ^ Morello, Mary (November 1999). "Guest Editorial By Mary Morello". Volume 3, Issue 1. The Microphone: The Mass Mic Newsletter. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  10. ^ "The Mary Morello and Cindy Sheehan Show". Axis of Justice. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  11. ^ "RATM - Killing in the Name (Pinkpop 1994) - Vidéo Dailymotion". 4 September 2007.
  12. ^ Thomas McBride (2016-09-17), The best F@#$ing band in the universe, archived from the original on 2021-12-12, retrieved 2019-05-29
  13. ^ "Prophets Of Rage Pay Tribute To Kaepernick At Shoreline Concert". 14 September 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-14.