Susman Lecture & Scholarships at Wayne State

August 25, 2016

Award-winning author Adam Hochschild speaks in Detroit and two Wayne State students receive Lincoln Veterans scholarships.

Adam Hochschild at Wayne State University.

Adam Hochschild at Wayne State University.

ALBA’s annual Bill Susman memorial lecture featured a talk by author Adam Hochschild to a packed hall of over 200 people in Detroit last June. Drawing on research from his recently published book Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, the lecture focused on why so many Americans decided to leave their homes to fight fascism overseas. Hochschild also spelled out the important role of Texaco in supplying the rebels with cheap oil and information on shipping that undermined the Spanish Republic. The lecture highlighted individual stories of volunteers, like battalion commander Bob Merriman and his wife Marion who were graduate students at Berkeley and traveled to Spain from a research trip in the Soviet Union to fight fascism After the lecture, Hochschild asked how many people in the audience had relatives who fought in the Spanish Civil War and dozens of hands went up and people told their own stories. One attendee told of how both her father and grandfather volunteered for the Lincoln Brigade. Another spoke of how his father was hounded during the Red Scare because of his history as a brigadier.

The Lincoln Veterans Scholarship recognizes students who exemplify the values of the Lincoln Brigade through their actions or research in peace and justice.

Adam Hochschild is an award-winning author and journalist. He is the author of eight books including King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa and To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918, which were both National Book Critics Circle Award finalists. He has also published articles in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Mother Jones magazine, which he helped found.

Before the lecture, two students from Wayne State University were awarded the university’s 33rd annual Abraham Lincoln Veterans Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes students who through their actions or research in peace and justice best exemplify the values of the Lincoln Brigade. Sean Riddell, a recent graduate from Wayne State’s Law School, was recognized for his work in the National Lawyers Guild and for his campaigns to improve pay to workers and agricultural laborers of McDonald’s and to raise awareness of labor and human rights violations of the Aramark Corporation. Elouise Garley received the scholarship for political work in her home country of Liberia, especially in poor urban communities, pushing residents and local leaders to support political parties that encourage social change, such as safe drinking water, electricity, and improved education and health care for the impoverished.

Aaron Retish, a professor of history at Wayne State University, serves on ALBA’s Executive Committee.