Friday, August 5, 2016

Film fests, house parties, and other next steps...

Dear Friends, 

Some of you have asked if the film is done. When we began this project sixteen years ago we had so much to learn, including that there are many stages of completing a film. We are pleased to announce that the film is now "festival ready," and we are applying to film festivals, local, national and international. We will notify you when we know where we have been accepted.

Applying to film festivals will bring the film to a much larger audience. We are very excited that we have reached this stage in getting the story of the takeover of 888 Memorial Drive more widely known.

More Funds Needed

What we have also learned is that filmmaking takes dough. Even though most of us are working for free, we still need to raise funds for technical work on sound and color correction to bring the film to broadcast standard. This is necessary not only for future broadcast opportunities, but also to increase the film's chances of admission to top tier festivals.

Our biggest expense will be the licensing fees for the two Janis Joplin songs in the film. We are currently negotiating these fees for festivals only. After the film has completed the festival circuit, and once we have a distributor, we will need to negotiate licensing fees for all other distribution, including educational video, home video, broadcast, video on demand (VOD) and various web and streaming platforms. The rights owners will not provide quotes on licensing for any additional distribution until after our festival run.

We estimate the cost for festival fees, final technical work, and all music rights will come to at least $50,000. Please keep us in mind when you think about making donations.

Click here to donate online or by mail.

Host a House Party!

One way we can raise money is through house parties. If you would like to gather a group to screen the film and contribute, let us know. Email

Snapshots from our March 8 Special Screenings

On International Women's Day, March 8, 2016, we had two special sneak-preview screenings at the Kendall Square Cinema. We were thrilled at the turnout and buoyed by your enthusiasm and energy as we came together to celebrate the completion of Left on Pearl. Here are some pictures from that night.

Carol Hill, Saundra Graham, and Caroline Hunter, Cambridge activists featured in the film
Andrea Devine and Lily Bouvier in Left on Pearl T-Shirts
Susan Jacoby, Cheryl Stein, Libby Bouvier, Rochelle Ruthchild, filmmaker Susie Rivo, and
editor Iftach Shavit answer questions after the first screening of the night
Sara Driscoll, community activist featured in the film

All photos are by Ellen Shub. Click here to see a full album of photos from the event.

We hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and we will keep you posted on the exciting next steps in the "Left on Pearl" saga.

Stay connected:

Like us on Facebook

View on Instagram
Follow us on Twitter 

In sisterhood and solidarity,

Libby, Susan, Cheryl, Rochelle and Susie

Monday, October 7, 2013

Laura Whitehorn on the Takeover of 888 Memorial Drive

A cold March morning in 1970 at the corner of Pearl Street and Memorial Drive.
I stand on the front steps of an old warehouse owned by Harvard and watch in
near ecstasy as a throng of women march toward me. After months of secretive
planning meetings, a few of us had broken into the building early that morning, then
waited nervously to see how many of our sisters would join us, marching from an
International Women’s Day demo in downtown Boston to our outpost in Cambridge.
We had expected a tiny crowd, fewer than 100, because it had been made clear that
the destination was an illegally held building, and arrest was likely. Instead, we were
overwhelmed with hundreds of our sisters, ready to take on the continuing struggle
for freedom and solidarity.

One of my favorite snapshot memories of the morning happened as the last of the
women swirled into the yard and the building itself: Following helplessly at the tail
of the march rode a handful of police we knew as the local “Red Squad.” We had
successfully kept the location of our takeover a secret, avoiding a preemptive arrest.

We expected to be arrested by police just hours after claiming the building for a
women’s center and a center for women’s solidarity with the people of Vietnam.
Instead, we held our spot for the next 11 days.

Now, I watch the nearly completed film of our takeover and feel joy and relief. Joy at
the way the passion we felt for our cause and our love for each other has held strong
over the intervening years (42 and counting), and relief that the intricate, hard-won
action we took has now been recorded. I watched one rough cut of the film with my
dear partner Susie Day. Together we have viewed more indendiary documentaries
about the cop-fighting, bomb-throwing 60s and 70s than we can count. This one, she
said, is different: Instead of reminding you that you weren’t involved, or that you
could never do what they did in those heady times, “Left on Pearl” not only brings
you into the events but allows you to realize that things like takeovers could still be
happening, and that it wouldn’t be all that hard to take part in them.

Being interviewed for the film was another high point—remembering much, finding
the flaws in my own recollections, then seeing how my memories fit (or didn’t) with
those of other women involved. I loved the process, I love the film, and I love both
the memories and the extended family of women who share them. Keeping this
groundbreaking action alive through “Left on Pearl” is a powerful way to remind
ourselves—and tell younger sisters—that winning does not necessarily mean seeing
a law passed or a case won. It also means building the persistence of action for
human rights, with our beating hearts at the center.

Thank you to the women who continue to work hard to get this film completed. It is
a great gift to all of us.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Judy Smith: We marched right into a little-used building that Harvard owned, and the rest is history

Welcome to the LEFT ON PEARL blog! We hope this will be a place to share ideas, memories, and reflections about the unfinished struggle for women's equality, both in the late 1960's/early 1970's and in the present.  

Our first post is from guest blogger, Judy Smith, a participant in the takeover of 888 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, which is depicted in the documentary, LEFT ON PEARL.

Judy Smith (left) with Noel Jette in 1970

In March 1971, I was excited to go downtown in Boston to a Saturday rally for International Women’s Day. I was a recent college grad working as a peer counselor in a drop-in center for street kids and runaways. I had learned about International Women's Day at a rally the year before, where I was thrilled to hear eighty-three year old Florence Luscomb, a progressive woman active in twentieth century social movements from suffrage and labor to civil rights and peace, who enthusiastically welcomed our new demands for women’s equality and exhorted us to join international calls to end the war in Vietnam. 

It felt great to be part of nearly five hundred women marching through Boston, with shout-outs to women prisoners at the Charles St. jail, secretaries working in the downtown office area; and protests directed at the selling of women’s image at high-end department stores and at the lack of women’s access to abortion and health care at the city's hospitals. 

The 1971 rally was just as compelling, featuring twenty-two year old Caroline Hunter, the Polaroid employee who discovered that Polaroid technology was producing the hated special identification cards black South Africans had to carry, calling for women to protest the apartheid regime. The big crowd of marchers again called out in solidarity to the women imprisoned in the Charles St. jail and booed the sexual exploitation of women as represented by the Boston Playboy club.

Then, after we crossed the river and headed back toward Cambridge, we heard an electrifying announcement– whoever wanted to could join in a sit-in at a Harvard owned building to demand that the university support a city wide Cambridge women’s center. Different groups had taken over a number of university buildings in the last couple of years—to protest university involvement in the war in Vietnam, to demand an end to university expansion into poor black neighborhoods, to call for the establishment of black studies programs, and later ethnic studies programs as part of university curricula. What an exhilarating idea, that the collective energy of the women marchers could turn into a fighting force demanding that Harvard fulfill its responsibility to its economically and racially diverse neighbors with special attention to the needs of WOMEN! 

We marched right into a little-used building that Harvard owned, and the rest is history, powerfully retold in the new film LEFT ON PEARL! I had to work alternating days and nights, so wasn’t able to be at the building throughout the eight days of occupation, but I was there enough to feel the strength of situational sisterhood, to listen to and be provoked by sometimes intimidating, but always intense and wide-ranging discussions on everything from strategy and tactics for defending the building to imagining blueprints for women’s liberation to creating the space for women loving women. The occupation ended with an anonymous contribution for a down payment on a house in the neighborhood to serve as a community-wide women’s center.

Fast forward to 1996, when several women who participated in the sit-in thought to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Cambridge Women’s Center with a video project reconstructing the now nearly-forgotten history of the march and building occupation. They began then to piece together the historical record and track down participants to interview, and I, now a historian teaching at a local university, began to be part of the discussions figuring out how to tell this story. 

Filmmaking is a collective enterprise, with little money, unequal filmmaking expertise, supported by day jobs, is a long SLOW process, but the ASTONISHING film, now nearly completed, miraculously manages to capture the fire, passion, and multiple voices of that important and transforming historical moment. In the winter of 2012, a group from Boston’s Occupy movement was amazed to see the connections between the 1971 building takeover and their recent experiences. Can you help us with the final finishing costs to get LEFT ON PEARL out to audiences???

Judith E. Smith

American Studies

University of Massachusetts Boston

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Opening Reception for Ellen Shub’s photo exhibition

On March 6, 1971, International Women's Day marchers turned left on Pearl Street in Cambridge, MA and seized a Harvard University building at 888 Memorial Drive, declaring it a Women's Center and holding it for ten days. This action proved trans formative for the participants and led to the founding of the longest continuously operating community Women’s Center in the U.S. The 888 Women’s History Project and filmmaker Susie Rivo are producing a documentary film, LEFT ON PEARL, which highlights this significant but little-known chapter in the history of the Women’s Liberation Movement. “The best thing I’ve seen on Second Wave Feminism” Professor Nancy Cott, Harvard University, Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America Monday, March 4, 6:30 PM: Celebrate Women’s History Month at the Connolly Branch Library Women's Liberation, the Unfinished Struggle: Documenting the History & Discussing the Future. Join LEFT ON PEARL Filmmakers, award-winning photojournalist Ellen Shub, and other feminists for a discussion on documenting the women's movement through photos, films, and stories.

This is also an opening reception for Ellen Shub’s photo exhibition. Connolly Branch Library, 433 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain 617.522.1960

For more information or to sign up for our mailing list, go to Find us on Facebook at

The 888 Women’s History Project is a 501(c)(3) IRS tax-exempt non-profit organization.



Submitted by Bev Grant who has a photo exhibit that starts on March 2nd and will run for 3 weeks. 

The opening will kick off Women's History Month at the Two Moon Art House & Cafe, where I have been co-presenting an acoustic music series with Carolann Solebello for the past year. In the late 60's and early 70's I was a photo journalist and filmmaker working with Liberation News Service (an alternative media news service) and NY Newsreel (a political documentary filmmaking collective). In addition to the photo exhibit, I will be showing a short film I co-produced called Up Against the Wall Miss America, showing slides of additional photos from that demonstration and others, facilitating some discussion with other second wave feminists who attended, and singing some songs. I hope you'll join me. Two Moon has good food, beer and wine, homemade pastries, coffee, tea., etc., and is run by two young community minded women whose idea it was that I do this exhibit. I hope you can make it.