Frida Berrigan at ArtRage

October 2, 2016 - 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM


Photograph © Sean D. Elliot
“Can you be fully committed to changing the world
and change diapers at the same time?
Can you be a nonviolent revolutionary
and a present, loving role model for your children?”

As part of our speaker series during our Americans Who Tell The Truth exhibition, Frida Berrigan, daughter of Phillip Berrigan, speaks at ArtRage about her dad and new book It Runs in the Family: On Being Raised by Radicals and Growing into Rebellious Motherhood.

The book illustrates how parents can create lasting and meaningful bulwarks between their kids and the violence endemic in our culture by considering how to raise thoughtful, compassionate, fearless young people committed to social and political change without scaring, hectoring or scarring them with all the wrongs in the world.

Her parents, Phil Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister, were a former priest and nun who became nationwide icons for their prophetic witness against war and nuclear weapons, which sometimes resulted in long jail sentences. Frida grew up in the community they helped found, Jonah House in Baltimore, and becoming a parent herself has forced her to come to terms with her own upbringing in new ways. She offers a unique perspective on parenting that derives from hard work, deep reflection, and lots of trial and error.


Philip Berrigan portrait by Robert Shetterly

Philip Francis Berrigan (October 5, 1923 – December 6, 2002) was an American peace activist and former Roman Catholic priest. An internationally renowned American peace activist, Christian anarchist and former Roman Catholic priest, Berrigan devoted his life to breaking down “prison walls” in order to expose and oppose American militarism, the use of nuclear weapons, social inequalities, avarice, and police brutality.

Berrigan was born in Two Harbors, Minnesota, a Midwestern working-class mining town. He had five brothers, including the Jesuit fellow-activist and poet, Daniel Berrigan and Syracuse Activist Jerry Berrigan. Philip Berrigan graduated from high school in Syracuse, New York, and was eventually drafted into combat duty in World War II. He was ordained a priest in 1955 began to teach in 1960. Berrigan became active in the Civil Rights movement, marching for desegregation and participating in sit-ins and bus boycotts. The church removed him from the priesthood in 1973 when Berrigan married Elizabeth McAlister, a nun.

After countless activist efforts and multiple years in prison, Philip Berigan died in 2002 at the age of 79. Howard Zinn, Professor Emeritus at Boston University, now deceased, paid this tribute to Berrigan: “Mr. Berrigan was one of the great Americans of our time. He believed war didn’t solve anything. He went to prison again and again and again for his beliefs. I admired him for the sacrifices he made. He was an inspiration to a large number of people.”

Free to the Public

Read more about Phillip Berrigan at Americans Who Tell The Truth