Letter from ALBA: Reaching Out to the Young

August 5, 2019
By and

Dear Friends,

More than 50 New York City high school students, together with their history teachers, attended our annual event on May 5. It’s been a while since we had so many young faces in the audience. Along with some 150 other attendees, they saw the Immigration Justice Campaign receive the ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. They also heard the poet José Olivarez perform from his award-winning collection Citizen Illegal and sang along with Miriam Elhajli’s stirring rendition of songs like Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee,” “Peat Bog Soldiers,” and “Viva la XV Brigada.”

New York City high school students

New York City high school students

“The event was great!” one of the students told us. “I would definitely recommend it to my peers.” “It was great to learn the history of ALBA and how their work is relevant to what is happening today,” another one wrote. “It was an insightful experience for me to have while I write my history paper on the Spanish Civil War.” “It was really powerful to know that the songs we were hearing came directly from the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War,” a third student said.

Among ALBA’s goals is to continue to reach out to new constituencies. This effort is at the core of the workshops we organize for teachers throughout the United States. This work, along with the ALBA/Puffin Award, seeks to honor the activist and internationalist legacy of the Lincoln Brigade. Of course, the world has changed over the past 80 years, and so have the tools and tactics of activism. Yet many of the principles stay the same: activism is about raising awareness, getting people mobilized, putting bodies in public spaces. And about fighting the good fight.

Young people all over the United States have been doing this, again, in recent years. They have marched and organized for social and racial justice, against police oppression, against sexual violence, and for gun control. These young people are looking for models. They are interested in the past. They really, genuinely are. And this is where ALBA’s work comes in.

We have our work cut out for us. Anyone who follows the news these days knows that we need all hands on deck.

Words matter. Intentions matter. Actions matter. As individuals and as part of a progressive community, we have the power to change our world. In fact, it is our moral obligation to try to do so. Thank you for joining us in this struggle.

Peter N. Carroll & Sebastiaan Faber, Editors

P.S. Please remember to make a monetary contribution to support ALBA’s educational mission!