Leonard Seelig 1930 – 1971

I passed by this plaque on 10th Street the other day. In case anyone has trouble reading it, it says: In memory of Leonard E. Seelig, 1930 – 1971, Tenth Street Residents Against the War in Vietnam.

I thought he must have died in the war, but I couldn’t find his name on any of the lists of the dead. Then, given who had installed the plaque I thought perhaps he died in a protest against the war or something?

I went to the library. According to a New York Times piece, on October 3rd “he was killed instantly when the car driven by his wife, Helen Lewis Seelig, went out of control and turned over.” His wife was not seriously injured. So it turns out that he was a labor organizer most of his life. I found another article from 1954, where he was arrested for participating in a sit-in demonstration at the New York Office of South Africa’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations to protest that government’s arrest of 4,000 anti-apartheid protesters.

It looks like the story was he was a good man who tried to do good things and he was much loved by his neighbors. He had three sons too, David, Gustave and Frederick.

I found one reference to the Tenth Street Residents Opposed to the War in Vietnam in a November 5, 1967 Times piece. “This past September, the one-shot ‘Tenth Street Peace Fair,’ staged by the ‘Tenth Street Residents Opposed to the War in Vietnam,’ mounted a ‘spontaneus, random sampling,’ of work by New York artists opposed to the war in Vietnam. They included Peter Agostini, Alan D’Arcangelo, Roy Lichtenstein, Knox Martin and George Sugarman.”


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

3 thoughts on “Leonard Seelig 1930 – 1971

  1. Oh those were the days my friend.
    The other day, I was explaining to my young friend why all the sidewalks in Tokyo are paved by flat black asphalt and not by nice looking concrete tiles or lovely stones.
    “It was because demonstrating students threw the tiles and stones to the riot squad.” I said and he didn’t get a word I said. How amazing all the protest enthusiasms had faded away.

  2. Thank you for the tribute to my father. He was more remarkable then you know. He and my step mother started that group again the war, the first street organization against the war. By the wars end there were hundreds of blocks that had organizations against the war. He was friends with Paul Robeson, body gaurded at the famous Peekskill riot. He organized for 1199 and the Municipal Workers union under Jerry Wurf. at his funeral his friends spoke including Tedd weiss Paul Odwyer and Jim Famer. He came from a father who was in organized crime and left it behind. My grandfather ran speakeasies in the 20;s

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