In 1947 he was arrested with Rustin and a number of other protestors during the Journey of Reconciliation for deliberately violating a North Carolinalaw requiring segregated seating on public transportation. At their trial, Rustin and Roodenko were both convicted. Rustin was sentenced to 30 days on a North Carolina chain gang. The judge said to Roodenko, "Now, Mr. Rodenky (sic), I presume you're Jewish." "Yes, I am," Roodenko replied. "Well, it's about time you Jews from New York learned that you can't come down bringing your nigras with you to upset the customs of the South. Just to teach you a lesson," the judge sentenced him to 90 days on a chain gang - three times the length of Rustin's sentence.
Roodenko was arrested numerous other times throughout his life: in 1962 for leading a peace rally in Times Square (his sentence was suspended, as the judge was sympathetic with the aims of the protestors). At other times for protesting against mistreatment of Soviet dissidents, against Cornell University's investments in South Africa, and, in Poland in 1987, along with four other members of the WRL, for trying to strengthen organizational connections with Polish dissidents. At the time of his death, Roodenko was a member of Men of all Colors Together.
In 1983, discussing the difficulties of political activism with a reporter from the New York Times, Roodenko memorably stated that "if it were easy, any schmo could be a pacifist." Roodenko died on 28 April 1991 in Beekman Downtown Hospital in New York of a heart attack.
^ "Igal Roodenko, 74; Led Anti-War Group". New York Times: D24. 1 May 1991.
"Oral History Interview with Igal Roodenko Interview B-0010 (excerpt)". Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 11 April 1974. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
^ "5 Seized Trying to Picket Soviets' U.N. Mission Here". New York Times: 36. 31 December 1967.
^ Bennett, Scott H. (July 2003). "'Free American Political Prisoners': Pacifist Activism and Civil Liberties, 1945-48". Journal of Peace Research40 (4): 413–433. doi:10.1177/00223433030404004. JSTOR 3648291.
"Roodenko v. United States". findacase.com. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
"United States Supreme Court". New York Times: 25. 27 March 1945.
^ D'emilio, John (25 June 2007). Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-6790-5. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
^ "Three Sentenced After Peace Rally". New York Times: 23. 14 April 1962.
Meier, August; Rudwick, Elliott (1969). "The First Freedom Ride". Phylon30 (3): 213–222. JSTOR 273469.
Whitfield, Stephen J.. "Rethinking the Alliance between Blacks and Jews." In Raphael, Marc Lee (2001). "Jewishness" and the world of "difference" in the United States. Dept. of Religion, College of William and Mary. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
Robbins, William (18 July 1983). "Diverse Antiwar Movement Cites Gains". New York Times: A6.
"Igal Roodenko Papers, 1935-1991", Document Group: DG 161, Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Retrieved 13 May 2008.
Oral History Interview with Igal Roodenko at Oral Histories of the American South