Bay Area Reunion Honors Spanish Judge

August 31, 2010

The 74th annual Bay Area reunion of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, held in Berkeley, California, on May 30, paid tribute to the legal work of Judge Baltasar Garzón in challenging decades of silence about mass murders conducted during the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. The program, part of ALBA’s focus on issues of historical memory and human rights, focused attention on the continuing struggle for justice in Spain today.

Baltasar Garzón (Photo Richard Bermack)

Nate Thornton, the single veteran to attend the event, greeted the cheering audience with an appeal to stay in the struggle for freedom and social justice.

Peter Carroll read the roster of veterans who had died during the past year, two of whom—Mark Billings and Hilda Roberts—had lived in northern California. The others were Carl Geiser of Oregon, Clarence Kailin of Wisconsin, and Saul Shapiro of Mexico City.

Nate Thornton, one of the few remaining vets, addressed the audience at the event. Photo by Richard Bermack

Guest speaker Maria Blanco, daughter of a Spanish Civil War refugee and executive director of the Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity at the University of California, Berkeley, described the legal background of the current debate about memory and human rights in Spain. The issue, she explained, has roots in Garzón’s earlier investigations of human rights violations in Latin America. Some 300 guests answered her remarks about Judge Garzón with thunderous applause (see page 8).

A special musical program, scripted by Bruce Barthol, featured singer Barbara Dane and sparkling musicians Randy Craig, Barrett Nelson, and Greg Platt, as well as Barthol and the famed harmonica player Will Scarlett. A background slide show by Richard Bermack highlighted the changing lyrical mood. At the end, all that was left were steaming applause and cheers.

Eight weeks later, ALBA joined the Bay Area Laborfest with the fifth annual screening of documentary films about the Spanish Civil War. This year’s menu included The Good Fight and 20 minutes of raw footage, newly attributed to Henri Cartier-Bresson, titled With the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in


2 Responses to “ Bay Area Reunion Honors Spanish Judge ”

  1. victor munoz on December 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    When will the 2011 75th ALBA reunion will be held? Will you please give me the date, time and place. Solidarity, Victor Munoz

  2. Sebastiaan Faber on December 16, 2010 at 9:36 am

    May 14th, New York University, probably 2pm.