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Clear it with SidneyHow our blog got its name >

 
Notes on journalism for the common good
by Lindsay Beyerstein

How our blog got its name

Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”

Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.

It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.

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"Crime After Crime" Inspires Domestic Violence Legislation in New Jersey

Yoav Potash's Hillman Prize-winning documentary Crime After Crime tells the story of Debbie Peagler, a woman who served over 20 years in prison for the murder of her husband and later won her freedom using a California law that allows battered women who strike back against their abusers to petition a court to re-open their cases if evidence of that abuse was overlooked. Peagler's husband had forced her into prostitution as a teenager and beat her throughout their marriage. 

After seeing the Crime After Crime, 16-year-old Micaela Mangot decided that her home state of New Jersey needed its own version of Debbie's Law. She invited her state senator Loretta Weinberg to a screening of the film. The senator was so moved by Debbie's story and Micaela's activism that she drafted a version of Debbie's Law for New Jersey. If the bill becomes law, it will be the second of its kind in the nation. 

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