These 1930s Housewives Were the Godmothers of Radical Consumer Activism
When meat prices spiked during the Great Depression, the women of Detroit got mad as hell—and launched a boycott that changed America.
The women were fearless, but the meatmen called them communists.
On the afternoon of July 27, 1935, the sounds of protest filled the Hamtramck, Michigan, shopping district, as a troop of 500 housewives descended on Joseph Campau Avenue with banners and picket signs reading: “Strike Against High Meat Prices. Don’t Buy.”
It was six years into the Great Depression, and the women, many of whom came from working-class immigrant families, were demanding a 20 percent reduction in meat prices from the city’s meat-packers and butcher shops. The picket was the first in a summerlong boycott that eventually spread out of the city’s 2.09 square miles and into neighboring Detroit. It was led by a 32-year-old, 100-pound, first-generation Polish-American named Mary Zuk.
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