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BETWEEN THE LINES

Celebrating Social Justice Writing

It is rare and wonderful when several important elements of a life come together and make joy. That’s how I felt on Sunday, November 12, at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA when Straw Dog Writers Guild presented the Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award to poet Patricia Smith. Straw Dog Writers Guild is an organization I love. Pamela Means performed Abel Meeropol’s most famous song, “Strange Fruit,” and her version is one of my favorites. Writing for social justice, writing as resistance, is my passion. Abel Meeropol was my father-in-law and my grandson shares his name. Patricia Smith is a poet/activist I admire enormously.

These elements coming together – family and social justice and writing and community - is satisfying on both a personal and political level. I could not have been happier, or more proud. Equally amazing was the audience, many writers and artists, who told me about the convergence of these elements in their own lives and work. Patricia Smith said that sometimes it feels like we’re writing into a void. We need to support each other’s words of resistance. We need to remind each other that we’re together in this work.

As a community, we needed Sunday’s program, and we need more convergences like it, opportunities to celebrate our commitment to justice and to writing, and to the ways they work together to illuminate our world and to change it.

This post was reprinted from the Straw Dog Writers Guild blog  Read More 
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Looking back; looking forward

These few weeks feel historic and hopeful, containing both joy and sorrow. I look back and forward, trying to balance on the moment.

Looking back: Forty-five years ago last month, Robby and I giggled our way into marriage at the Rockville County courthouse. One friend predicted, “They won’t last two weeks.” I’m so glad Nick was wrong.

Looking back: Sixty years ago next month, Ethel and Julius were executed, orphaning my sweet Robby at age six.

Looking forward: In a few days, my grandson has his first birthday. He is named for his great-grandfather Abel Meeropol, who wrote Strange Fruit and who, with his wife Anne, adopted Robby and his brother after the execution.

Looking forward: In three months, Robby will retire as Executive Director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, the foundation he started to honor his birth parents and continue their work for social justice by supporting today’s targeted activists. In September, our daughter Jenn will take over leadership of the organization that embodies her father’s constructive revenge. It delights and tickles me that one daughter litigates to protect civil liberties and the other supports targeted activists.

Looking forward: One month from today, at Town Hall in Manhattan, the Rosenberg Fund community of friends, family, and supporters will gather for “Carry it Forward,” a dramatic program to commemorate the anniversary of the execution and the RFC leadership transition. I’ll also be thinking about the generations of activists that are gone, and the generations now joining our family and our world. Read More 
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