Honoring Civic Leader Frances Goldin

May 18, 2020 |

We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of civic leader and friend of University Settlement Frances Goldin. A pillar of the Lower East Side community, and a passionate ally to all experiencing oppression, Ms. Goldin was a deeply passionate activist and literary agent who dedicated her life to preserving New York City for its residents by leading fights against predatory real estate development and gentrification for decades.

Through her activism, Goldin and her allies co-founded the Cooper Square Committee in 1959 after famously putting a halt to the Moses' Cooper Square redevelopment plan. After five long decades, the committee's proposed alternate plan was achieved by combining existing low-income housing along with constructing new mixed-income housing, and four new buildings along E. Houston St. between Bowery and Second Ave, one of which became University Settlement's Houston Street Center.

Ms. Goldin also founded the Metropolitan Council on Housing, the oldest and largest tenant rights organization in New York City. Both it and the Cooper Square Committee are still operating today.

Later in her career, she launched the Frances Goldin Literary Agency, where she through which she represented a variety of leftist authors. She attracted a variety of like-minded writers with an advertisement that read in part, "I do not represent any material that is sexist, ageist or gratuitously violent."

Her agency is known for publishing works by bestselling authors including Dorothy Allison, Martin Duberman, Barbara Kingsolver, Adrienne Rich, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Mike Wallace.

Ms. Goldin's activism extended to other social movements – she participated in the New York City Heritage of Pride parade annually and was a proponent of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

It's impossible to imagine what the Lower East Side would look like without Fran Goldin's leadership, and although our community has lost one of its biggest advocates, we will continue to celebrate her spirit through our work with our communities.


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