“Heather Booth: Changing the World”
“The Most Influential Person You Never Heard Of’
Heather Booth is a renowned organizer and activist who began her remarkable career at the height of the Civil Rights movement. This film explores many of the most pivotal moments in progressive movements that altered our history over the last fifty years: from her involvement with Fannie Lou Hamer and the Freedom Summer Project, to her founding of the JANE Underground in 1964, to her personal relationships with respected leaders such as Julian Bond and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Through interviews with close friends, clients, political colleagues and current Midwest Academy students, director Lily Rivlin explores Heather’s legacy in progressive politics and organizing.
Booth at 71, is one of the nation’s most influential organizers for progressive causes. For the last 50 years, Booth has been there fighting for fair pay, equal justice, abortion rights, workers’ rights, voter rights, civil rights, immigration rights, child care and wherever there is inequality. She has improved the lives of tens of millions of Americans who never knew her name.
In the film, Booth describes her first entry into activism when, in her early teens, she stood by herself in New York City’s Times Square handing out leaflets urging an end to the death penalty. Booth was a founder of the modern women’s movement, a role that started in 1964 when she helped set up the covert abortion network. This began when she learned that a friend was pregnant. She recruited other volunteers and other doctors. Eventually it became on ongoing organization called the Jane Underground. By some estimates, the Jane Underground group helped secure between 11,000 and 13,000 abortions for women in need between 1965 and 1973, when the Supreme Court finally legalized abortions in “Roe v. Wade”.
Booth has trained and mentored some of the nation’s most effective and influential organizers and activists. She has worked with liberal and progressive groups and activists that include MoveOn, the NAACP, USAction, People’s Action, Planned Parenthood, Alliance for Citizenship and the Voter Participation Center, to the National Organization for Women, the National Council of La Raza, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Center for Community Change.
This film explores many of the most pivotal moments in progressive movements that altered our history over the last fifty years through the lens of Booth’s work. She combines a generosity of heart, a lifelong commitment to social justice, and a remarkable talent for inspiring others and thinking strategically.