Remember the Ladies: Ameringer, Socialist Party Activist and Journalist | Lifestyles
Progressive political activist and social reformer, Freda Ameringer helped the Oklahoma Socialist Party rise, the anti-World War I movement to be heard, the New Deal to gain support, state anti-labor legislation to be defeated, the civil rights movement to grow stronger and pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
Freda Hogan was born in November 1892 in Huntington, Arkansas. Her childhood home was filled with socialists, feminists and trade unionists discussing the big issues of the time. As part of her education, she attended public speeches and debates, and worked in her father’s printing shop, learning to compose type, operate presses, and write.
When her father ran for governor in 1910, the teenager took over the Huntington Herald. In 1914, she also became secretary of the Arkansas Socialist Party, directing party operations—campaigns, speaking tours, conventions, and membership. She saw socialism as a struggle against corporations, banks, and other economic powers that undermined workers’ rights.
During the 1914 dispute with the United Mine Workers and the management of Prairie Creek Mine No. 4, Freda publicized the events, making the imprisonment of UMWA officials a cause celebre in union circles and writing how the guards intimidated workers and their families.
In 1912, Freda also worked to bring women’s suffrage to Arkansas. In 1915, she joined the National Women’s Committee of the Socialist Party to organize women. When women won partial suffrage in Arkansas in 1917, she convinced 67 Huntington women to pay poll taxes in order to vote in the 1918 primary election.
Opposed to America’s entry into World War I, the Hogans moved to Oklahoma in 1917. Freda traveled with Oscar Ameringer throughout Oklahoma to raise capital for the “Oklahoma Leader”, a new socialist newspaper . At the height of Oklahoma socialism, Freda was more radical than Oscar, whom she married in 1930.
From 1931 to 1968, Freda published the “Oklahoma City Advertiser”, a periodical that promoted small business and attacked monopolies while advocating for labor unionism, civil rights, low-cost health insurance, and social programs. associated with the New Deal and the Great Society. . She published a muckraking series, “Oklahoma’s Natural Gas Story,” and championed higher education reform, protection of veterans’ benefits, and affordable health care.
After Oscar’s death in 1943, Freda founded the Oklahoma Urban League in 1946 and raised funds to establish the Pilot Club and build nine community centers. She has campaigned for the YWCA, UNICEF and the Metropolitan Library System. Freda editorialized against segregation and the anti-work “right to work” movement and in favor of slum clearance, public transport and the “war on poverty” of the 1960s.
In her later years, Freda was still battling her nemesis, Daily Oklahoman publisher EK Gaylord, for “busting” unions or publishing “racist” editorials. She called a front-page rant “worthy of Governor Wallace’s staunchest segregationist supporters.”
In retirement, she remained a critic of the new right, opposed the arms race, and defended the rights of minorities and women. She often paraphrased her husband’s words: “It’s a hell of a good life, if you don’t waver.” Freda Ameringer died at age 95 in October 1988 in Oklahoma City.
Dr. Edwyna Synar has been writing and speaking about women’s history for over 20 years. Her stories in this series can be found at http://rememberladies.weebly.com.