Letter from ALBA: The Struggle Goes On

March 9, 2019

ALBA LogoDear Friends and Comrades:

One foot in the past and one foot in the present, with our eyes set on the future: that’s ALBA’s signature straddle. As our tagline says, we teach history to inspire activism and uphold human rights. Inspired by the anti-fascist activism of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, ALBA taps into America’s progressive traditions so that together we may meet the world’s daunting challenges—and work toward a better and more just society.

Eighty years after the end of the Spanish Civil War, we remain deeply immersed in current struggles. In fact, we are thrilled to announce this year’s winners of the ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. The Immigration Justice Campaign mobilizes more than 9,000 volunteers to make sure that arriving migrants and those with asylum claims are not subject to the government’s arbitrary deportation system that has no purpose but to criminalize them. To understand how dire the situation is, see this issue’s Human Rights Column by Steven Volk. A longtime scholar and activist, Volk is now completing his training to become an accredited immigration advocate.

We also continue to discover inspiring stories from the past. When, in early 2016, we mourned the passing of Delmer Berg, the sole surviving US volunteer to fight in the Spanish Civil War, we had no idea that another US volunteer was still living in southern France. It was high-school teacher Dean Burrier, an ALBA Institute alumnus who lives and works in Illinois, who made the discovery. International-Brigade veteran Raphael Buch Brage, who was born in New York City in 1915, died this past October, aged 103. Burrier gives us a glimpse into Buch Brage’s stunning life story, worthy of a novel by his friend Ernest Hemingway. María Hernández Ojeda and Chris Brooks, both ALBA board members, share two other fascinating biographies.

For the past decade, ALBA has been particularly focused on reaching teenagers and young adults. This past year, we held no fewer than eleven workshop events for middle- and high-school teachers, a record number. We worked with more than 270 teachers, who in turn teach tens of thousands of students. No fewer than 95% of these teachers report that they are “very likely” to incorporate our materials in their classroom, and over 90% of participants evaluated the overall quality of the workshop as “outstanding.” A New York ALBA alum, history teacher David Hanna, shares some of his experiences teaching on Spanish art and politics.

Primary sources are central in our educational work. How transformative it can be for young people to immerse themselves in an archive is explained by ALBA’s María Hernández Ojeda, who teaches at CUNY’s Hunter College, and two of her colleagues.

In the opening paragraph of this letter, we used the words we and together—and that’s not just rhetorical. We at ALBA cannot do our work without your unflagging support. ALBA has always been more ambitious than its size. We are small, but we do a lot. We can’t thank you enough for standing by our side.

Peter N. Carroll & Sebastiaan Faber, Editors

P.S. NOW IS THE MOMENT TO SUPPORT ALBA’S OUTREACH TO TEACHERS! PLEASE DONATE. For a one-time gift or to set up a monthly donation, go to tinyurl.com/albadonate