SCHOENFELD, MAX (30 May 1915-7 Mar. 1999) was a labor, civil rights and peace activist as well as a prolific photographer who served many years both on the executive board of the UNITED AUTO WORKERS LOCAL 45 and as a member of the Congress on Racial Equality. He was born in New Haven, CT to Ethel and Samuel Schoenfeld, who owned a neighborhood drug store.
In 1935 Schoenfeld received a degree in mathematics from City College in New York. He tutored high school students and adults and became involved in socialist politics and the teachers union. When funds for the program he worked for expired, he took a job in a textile factory. During WORLD WAR II, Schoenfeld entered the Army and was assigned to a military police unit in Buffalo. Finding the work distasteful, he volunteered to be a firefighter and stoked a furnace eight hours a day prior to being promoted staff sergeant. He married Carrie May Pearson in Buffalo in 1943 and they moved to Cleveland following the war. Schoenfeld became a press operator at the FISHER BODY PLANT on Coit Rd. and bought a home in COLLINWOOD.
Schoenfeld joined the factory's union, the UAW Local 45, and became an active union member as an organizer, photographer, and teacher of a union-sponsored high school equivalency class. He served on the union's executive committee, was reporter, photographer, and editor of the union's newspaper, the Eye-Opener. In addition, he served as the union's health and safety director.
As a member of the Congress on Racial Equality, Schoenfeld demonstrated for civil rights in Cleveland and Washington D.C. He helped organize the St. Joseph Community Relations Council, which worked to overcome racial and ethnic boundaries in his diverse neighborhood. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Schoenfeld participated in marches from Euclid to Public Square that the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy sponsored to oppose nuclear proliferation. Schoenfeld became known as a photographer - taking pictures of labor, political and neighborhood activities that he developed in his darkroom. He donated over 4,500 of his negatives to the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. In 1974 he received the Cleveland Area General Motors Award for Excellence in Community Service.
Schoenfeld and his wife Carrie had two sons: Daniel and Ed. He died of heart failure after moving to Santa Rosa, CA, to live near his eldest son. His remains were cremated.