Posted on October 4, 2015 by the Webmaster
Emma Wong Mar passed away in her home in Oakland, California on September 16, shortly after her 89th birthday, after a brief illness. She was an outspoken political activist and socialist for most of her adult life. She remained interested and engaged in politics and current affairs up until the end of her life.
Emma was born to Chinese immigrant parents in New York City on September 7, 1926. Her parents worked hard and struggled to support Emma and her six sisters during the Great Depression. She graduated from Hunter College in New York and spent several years working as a medical technologist at Sutter Hospital in Sacramento and Planned Parenthood in Oakland. She married Henry Y. Mar in 1952 and had two children. She was an early opponent of the Vietnam War and could be seen carrying picket signs at countless protest demonstrations.
Emma was a dedicated member of the Peace and Freedom Party. She was elected State Chair of the party in 1982 and ran as its vice-presidential candidate in 1984 with feminist activist Sonia Johnson heading the ticket. She ran for State Assembly three times between 1982 and 1992 and for U.S. Congress once, in 1994. She served as co-chair of the Alameda County Peace and Freedom Party for many years. Emma continued her anti-war and pro-labor activism well into the late 90's and early 2000's. She was recognized by the Hotel and Restaurant Workers' Union for her constant presence on picket lines and at support activities.
Emma was warm-hearted and generous in spirit and a very open and compassionate person. She was outgoing and made friends easily. She was beloved by her political comrades and by her immediate family and will be very much missed.
Long time PFP activist Casey Peters offers these memories of Emma:
I first became close to her at the 1982 UCLA convention of Peace and Freedom Party where I was able to convince Emma to step forward as a candidate for state chair. Emma proved to be an excellent party chair, and bridged many factions. That aspect of her persona was seen years later after the 1988 three-way split when Emma and I overcame some political differences and started a healing process which aided Peace & Freedom Party to become whole again.Emma's daughter JoAnn co-hosts a weekly radio program, Folk Music and Beyond, on KALW-FM in San Francisco. Here are two audio clips of excerpts from her tribute to her mother, broadcast on September 26. The first includes a few of JoAnn's own memories. The second is a portion of a poem in Emma's memory by songwriter and activist Si Kahn..
One thing that helped was our jointly heading the Search Committee for a United Presidential Candidate (SCULPT) in the lead-up to the 1984 and 1988 elections. In that role, Emma helped to bring into discussion a wide rangeof organizations on the Left, creating a serious process unmatched to this date. We were solid enough by 1992 to work in unison for the nomination of Ron Daniels as our presidential candidate.
Emma and Henry hosted many meetings in their large Oakland home, and made room for overnight guests including myself. Emma had strong views on many political groups and activists, and was a regular in picketing a Round Table Pizza to support worker's rights. Emma was exemplary, as a principled leader and as a true friend.
Emma Mar is survived by her husband Henry, their two children JoAnn and Craig, her three sisters Estelle, Mabel, and Gloria, and many nieces and nephews. Her spirit will continue to live on in the Peace and Freedom Party and the socialist movement.