Margaret Randall (born 1936) is a writer, photographer, activist and academic. Born in New York City, USA, she lived for many years in Spain, Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua, and spent time in North Vietnam during the last months of the U.S. war in that country. She has written extensively on her experiences abroad and back in the United States and has taught at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and other colleges.


  • I believe that the Cuban Revolution was one of the great political events of the 20th century, and the fact that it exists today in the face of so many obstacles and problems is extraordinary.
  • I am against censorship wherever and however it raises its head, and I am always disappointed when I see a government concerned with justice exercise censorship in any form.
  • I believe that my years of doing oral history have helped me pay attention to people’s voices, and this consciousness often shows itself in my poetry.
  • The two revolutionary societies I’ve lived in are Cuba, during the second decade of its revolution, and Nicaragua during the first four years of Sandinism. In both places, I learned an enormous amount, mostly about what it means to attempt to construct a truly egalitarian life for people. Access to universal healthcare, decent housing, free education, a fair justice system, and experiments aimed at improving life for all members of society was important as I raised four children and watched them go through school and become self-sufficient adults. In Cuba, there were shortages, and food and clothing rationing was pretty severe in the years we were there. But I can’t remember ever feeling this was a problem. Rather, it felt good to know that what was needed was spread among everyone.
  • revolutionary processes, like all civic experiments, are made by human beings, some notably more interested than others in true equality. So, I also learned how easy it is for problems to arise and for revolutionary ideas to be sidelined.
  • Activism and feminism both draw on the imagination, requiring taking risks and thinking outside the box. This is the very definition of poetry.
  • I discovered feminism in Mexico, at the end of my time there, when the first articles from US and European feminists began to appear...Feminism wasn’t academic theory to me, but something to be lived. I needed it.
  • my mothering was circumscribed in two ways: as a revolutionary involved in trying to make the world a better place for all children, and as a feminist who demanded from my partner equal involvement in household tasks, and wanted to imbue my children with those values as well–my son as well as my daughters.
  • all in all, I think we revolutionaries of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s gave our children love and a sterling set of values.
  • I experienced Cuban society as exhilarating, exciting, and amazing. I loved being part of a project that was making itself from the inside out. I felt privileged to be living in a place where real equality seemed to be the collective goal. I thrilled to meetings in which drafts of new law were discussed, and my neighbors or colleagues and I could have input into those laws. I also felt privileged, especially as a mother, to live in a society that saw health and education as basic human rights, and that was developing an outstanding system of universal health care that freed me from worry when my children were ill.
  • revolutionary–as I understand that word. That is to say, more inclusive, more outspoken, more creative, more of a reflection of what we all hope the new man and new woman will be.
  • The McCarran-Walter clause under which I was charged was popularly referred to as “the ideological exclusion” clause. My deportation order stated that my work was found to be “against the good order and happiness of the United States.”

Walking to the Edge: Essays of Resistance (1991)



  • Walking to the edge is what I've done most of my life. Walking to the edge: taking conscious risk. Calling up, even in the most difficult of circumstances, this courage of vulnerability. Honoring process, a profoundly female business. So engaged, I have often felt painfully alone. Then, in instant recognition and warmed by its consequent explosion of tenderness and life, there is the presence of that millennia of sisters. Sisters, as well, in the here and now. And yes, also brothers. If I have learned little else, I have learned that I have no choice but to walk again and again to the edge. Because there is no choice, and because there are so many of us walking out here, I am not alone. There is challenge and also a steadiness in our discovery.
  • More than a decade ago, in the introduction to another book, I said that socialism and feminism need one another. Now I would add that we must work hard, individually and collectively, to reunite body and mind-and learn about the ways in which they work together-for the health of our planet, our society, ourselves. Through these years which have proven so difficult and discouraging for the socialist dream I continue to nurture, this seems more than ever important.
  • We must reclaim our voices in order to create the women (indeed, the people) we must be: no more conditioned dichotomy between emotions, mind, and body; no further need for the fragmented or reactive response.
  • I deeply believe in the importance of language, that we must retrieve ways to say what we mean, assign responsibility, give the perpetrators as well as the victims and survivors first and last names. We must teach ourselves how to use language powerfully; only then will its reclaimed and highly charged memory enable us to create ourselves into the world of equality and justice we so urgently need. I'm not talking about vision without work. Bumper stickers like "VISUALIZE WORLD PEACE" annoy me. It's not enough to see with the eye-even the mind's eye.
  • One of the things that has happened to me out of experience and out of revolutionary practice is coming to the conclusion that people are human beings.People are good and bad everywhere. Five years ago I was a much more schematic person. In that sense I've changed a lot.
  • I was completely captivated by seeing a new revolution. I had read Marx and Lenin but I was heavily impressed by the human aspect of seeing people with dignity.
  • I had to learn to fit my desire to be successful, well known, famous, and my desire to get my message across, how to fit this into service of the revolution without that meaning that I was just writing pamphlets...It was a struggle to maintain my integrity. And it was a very intense experience. What does it mean to write for The People?...I feel one must take sides in a struggle. What is that terrible phrase in the bourgeois language, 'I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' Well, I hate that. One has values in life and they are what they are.
  • It is very important not to be overly romantic about revolution...There is a tendency in capitalistic countries to think of revolution as a schematic thing, forgetting that revolutions are made by people and that there are a lot of contradictions. Well, there are a lot of problems here, underdevelopment, housing, education. The exciting thing is to see them make mistakes and try again. I love it so much more for being able to criticize it and see it for what it is. I love it so much I don't want people to be romantic about it.
  • What I want out of life, is to contribute as much as possible to make a better world.

Quotes about

  • Margaret Randall has suggested that the socialist movements in Latin America and the Caribbean were impeded by "the failure to develop an indigenous feminist discourse and vital feminist agenda"...Randall puts it categorically: "If a revolution is unable or unwilling to address the needs of all people, it is doomed to failure."
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Women writing resistance: essays on Latin America and the Caribbean (2017)
  • "personal wholeness and political health... must be rewoven into a single fabric. They cannot be separated," writes Randall.
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Women writing resistance: essays on Latin America and the Caribbean (2017)
  • the status quo still fears what she and writers like her have to offer: a clear, strong, articulate commitment to socialist and feminist values, with a call to action for the establishment of those values as a way of life. She is dangerous to the interests of the tiny elite who run this country-and for that we should be thankful.
    • Martín Espada used as blurb for Walking to the Edge: Essays of Resistance (1991)
  • of America's rebellious daughters. She makes a powerful witness.
    • Joy Harjo, used as blurb for Walking to the Edge: Essays of Resistance (1991)
  • Margaret Randall is one of our finest, most thoughtful and articulate, and impassioned and compassionate writers. She is fearless, and a great voice for reason and hope despite seemingly desperate times.
    • John Nichols, used as blurb for First Laugh: Essays, 2000-2009 (2011)
  • In writing about Margarita and Julia, I received a sign in the fall of 1986 that these poems were complete and ready to emerge. I met two women poets who have these names and who have had an impact in my life: Margaret Randall and Julia Alvarez.
  • Randall's writing fuses her commitment to revolutionary change with her remarkable poetic sensibility.
    • Howard Zinn, used as blurb for First Laugh: Essays, 2000-2009 (2011)
Wikipedia has an article about: