The Life and Times of Malvina Reynolds, Long Beach's Most Legendary Folk Singer
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
The caravan of Klansmen crept to a stop around midnight in front of the home of David and Lizzie Milder on Nov. 17, 1932. Their quaint bungalow in the Carroll Park neighborhood of Long Beach had just played host to a fund-raiser for the International Labor Defense (ILD), a group affiliated with the Communist Party USA. Members were seeking donations for the Scottsboro Boys, nine African-American teens whose convictions in the rape of two white women in Alabama had recently been overturned. That night, Ben Isgur, boyfriend of the Milders' youngest daughter, Eleanor, spoke eloquently about the injustice in the case—and that was just too much for the KKK.
Klan members from Orange County united with their Long Beach brothers for the raid. About 50 eventually gathered outside the Milder house, armed with guns, clubs, rubber hoses and a gasoline-soaked wooden cross. The family's very existence—Jewish, immigrant, communist, anti-racist—could not stand. They planted the cross on the Milders' lawn and set it ablaze. Klansmen stood guard with guns drawn at the porch while others tried to break through the front door.
David, Lizzie, their son Samuel and other daughter, Malvina, were sipping coffee with Isgur when the Invisible Empire tried to barge in. The family leaped from the table and tried to keep the door from budging—but it wasn't enough.
Read more on my latest OC Weekly Cover Story feature out on newsstands tomorrow!