Political Activism Then and Now: Lessons of the Lincoln Brigade

March 3, 2011
By and

The document is 75 years old; the hand, 15. Photo James Fernández

On February 16, twenty-four new sophomores from Bergen County Academies High School in Hackensack, NJ participated in a day-long program of study at the King Juan Carlos Center and the Tamiment Library.  The students, who are enrolled in a project we direct, entitled Political Activism Then and Now: Lessons of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade , engaged in a number of activities led by NYU professor James Fernández that enhanced their understanding of the history of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and their political activism.   With the help of a series of video interviews that Dr. Fernández recorded with many of the ALB Veterans, as well as the documentary Forever Activists, he engaged the students in a discussion of what led the Veterans to risk life and limb, and to violate US Neutrality laws, to fight fascism in Spain before it was popular to do so.

Bergen Academies students at the Tamiment. Photo Marina Garde

The highlight of the day for the students was the opportunity to visit the Tamiment Library and examine the archival documents of some of the veterans of the Brigade.  As always, the only problem was a lack of time: once students had a chance to transport themselves back to Spain through the reading of the documents, it was hard to tear them away.  Once the students returned from lunch, Dr. Fernández led another round of spirited discussion based on the student’s impressions of the lives of the people they read about and the process of historical investigation through the use of archival documents.

Bergen Academies students working at the Tamiment. Photo Marina Garde

Overall, the day was a great success.  On the bus ride back to New Jersey, some of the students said that this was the best field trip that they ever participated in, while a couple of others vowed to come back to the Tamiment in the near future and explore the Abraham Lincoln Brigade archive further.  A huge thank you goes out to Jim Fernández for providing such a wonderful learning experience for our students and for challenging them to think about the importance of political activism.


2 Responses to “ Political Activism Then and Now: Lessons of the Lincoln Brigade ”

  1. Fredda Weiss (Board Member) on March 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Congratulations to Sergei and Gabriela! This is a wonderful article. And thank you for your devotion to teaching the lessons of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

  2. David Marshall on October 22, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Are Veterans worth it?
    The U.S. Congress reported that, “Every year, thousands of experiments utilizing human subjects are still being conducted by, or on behalf of, the DOD.” These are Department Of Defense “experiments that were designed to harm”! They are identified in the 56 page U.S. Senate 1994, 103-97 Report “IS MILITARY RESEARCH HAZARDOUS TO VETERANS’ HEALTH? LESSONS SPANNING HALF A CENTURY.” with its 171 source “NOTES”. Under the Bill of Rights, Amendment VIII is, “…nor cruel and unusual punishments.”. This is reiterated in the, “U.S. Report under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights, July 1994 Article 7 “Freedom from Torture, or Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” As of 2014 (50 + 20 years later) the U.S. Congress has yet “To make Rules…” preventing the “Degrading” rape of and the injurious, non-consensual experiments on all U.S. Military Personnel. 1994 noted were missing needed for treatment and experimentation verifying records! This is again verified by Congress’s subsequent EIGHT (8) times rejection of the “Veterans Right To Know Act”! On 25 July 2012 a U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered the VA to release these DOD experimentation records!
    Congress Overlooks:
    A..”To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.” is the U.S. Congress’s responsibility under the U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sect. 8, Clause 14.
    B..”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” This is the U.S. Congress’s Oath of Office.
    Please require your members of Congress to obey their abandoned Oath of Office! Shouldn’t U.S. Service Personnel have the same U.S. Constitutional, Amendment 8, Rights that: 1. Were given by the 26 February 1953 Secretary of the Department of Defense’s, to-date ignored, no non-consensual human experimentation order. And 2. Are given to convicted rapists and murderers under the Amendment VIII reiteration, “U.S. Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights July 1994, Article 7 – Freedom from Torture, or Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”
    “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW” is carved in stone above the main entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court Building. Please make this happen for veterans and active duty military men and woman!
    Thank you.
    David Marshall, 100% Disabled 1952-1956 USAF Veteran