View video excerpts

View video excerpts part two

Irv Sarnoff - Irv was born in the Bronx in the Worker’s Cooperative Colony, known as the”Coops,” a community of 5000 people, mostly from Europe, who identified themselves as Leftists.  He was a member of the Young Pioneers and even as a child, worked to support members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

 He came to Los Angeles when he was 16 years of age already imbued with Marxist philosophy and teaching, and went right to work under the direction of Dorothy Healy, a Communist Party leader in Southern California. 

One of his early jobs was at Decca Records, where he was to organize the lower level workers at that company.  He was drafted into the army during the Korean Conflict, but refused to sign the standard Army Loyalty Oath and so was put in a unit of disaffected draftees who opposed to the war. After he got out of the army, he worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad until retirement.  He was subpoenaed to appear before HUAC in the mid 1950’s.

He and his wife, Ruth Sarnoff, started organizing in the San Gabriel Valley for Civil Rights for Blacks, and against the restrictive covenants that kept Black people from living outside of Watts.  They also organized clothing, books and household items to be sent to the South during the Freedom Rides.

During the Vietnam War, Irv was Co-Chair of the Peace Action Council, a grassroots anti Vietnam War organization that organized the Century Plaza Demonstration in 1967.  After Vietnam, a lot of the grassroots organizing that went into the Peace Action Council was carried over to the Anti Nuclear Movement and the burgeoning Environmental Movement.  Irv was pivotal in forming the Alliance for Survival, which sponsored “Survival Sunday” and “Peace Sunday,” big anti nuclear themed concerts.
During “Peace Sunday,” Irv started to work with people at the United Nations, and in 1985, he formed “Friends of the United Nations.”  “Friends of the United Nations” has been his forum for organizing ever since.

Return to Selected Video Excerpts