Ralph Fertig

Ralph David Fertig is currently a Professor at the University of Southern California Graduate School of Social Work where he chairs the Social Welfare Policy sequence and runs a seminar on Social Work and Law. For years, with his students, he has campaigned for the rights of the homeless. As one of the original Freedom Riders, he is a convener and organizer of the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides and the Committee to put Mississippi on Trial.

He was a federal Administrative Judge for Civil Rights after serving as Regional Attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ralph came to California in 1973 to run the Greater Los Angeles Community Action Agency, the joint city-county community action program in the war against poverty. In Washington, D.C., he ran Southeast Neighborhood House, became local President of the National Association of Social Workers, participated in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in lobbying and building the March on Washington to secure civil rights legislation, then ran the Metropolitan Washington Planning and Housing Association. The Washington Post, in an editorial page staff editorial, dubbed him the “conscience of Washington.”

He received his B.A. at the University of Chicago, his M.A. in Sociology at Columbia University, returned to the U.of Chicago to study for his Ph.D, become fully immersed in fighting anti-communist hysteria on the campus and in battling racial discrimination in the community. Sidetracked into social work with gangs in the surrounding area, he became a community organizer, then ran the Research Department of the Chicago Commission on Youth Welfare. Years later, he received his JD from UCLA where he was President of the Student Bar Association and head of the Law Revue.

Fertig is President of the Humanitarian Law Project (in which role he was characterized by Patt Morrison of the L.A. Times as “a cog in the wheel of justice”), was for years President of the Southern California Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, has long been on the local advisory board of Americans for Peace Now, was a founding member of the Board of the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and has been a delegate to Democratic Party state and national conventions

In addition to writing the Peace Corps Training Manual on Community Development, an anthology on “Men and Work” and numerous articles and chapters in books on Human Rights, Social Welfare Policy, Homelessness, the Kurds under Turkish occupation, and the Freedom Rides, he is author of Love and Liberation: When the Jews Tore Down the Ghetto Walls (2001), a Los Angeles Times Best Seller.

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