Letter from ALBA: We’re All in This Together

June 2, 2020

“Why should one care about events taking place far away?” This is one of the “essential questions” that drive our work with teachers around the country. Together with the question “When do you stand up for what you believe in?” it captures the spirit of the internationalist commitment that drove the almost 40,000 volunteers who put their lives on the line for the defense of the Spanish Republic against fascism. As Bill Bailey put it in the documentary The Good Fight: “If some poor working stiff went on strike in Timbuktu … and some cop came down and started busting his skull, you were concerned about that, because that was your brother out there.”

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s precisely the relevance of this internationalist spirit. We are all in this together. To be sure, the crisis has thrown our lives into disarray. It has hit Spain and the United States with particular viciousness. And it has forced ALBA, like many other organizations, to postpone, cancel, or reinvent plans for this fall. But at the same time, the crisis has only strengthened our conviction that the legacy of the Lincolns is more relevant than ever.

We have been determined to keep our work going. We’re continuing to publish The Volunteer on schedule. Our annual celebration in New York City, on May 17, was moved online and featured artists like Sarah Lee Guthrie, Velina Brown, Bruce Barthol, and Pedro and Luis Pastor. During the entire month of July, we are piloting our first-ever online teacher workshop, open to the entire country (see page 5). And we’ve launched a completely overhauled ALBA website at www.alba-valb.org.

Standing up for what you believe also drives the brave volunteers of No More Deaths, the Arizona-based organization that for the past 16 years has worked to save the lives of migrants crossing the desert and to achieve immigration reform. No More Deaths is the recipient of this year’s ALBA-Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. Like the volunteers of the Lincoln Brigade, their principled activism has put them at odds with the law, which inexplicably says leaving water and food for migrants is a crime. In this issue, we interview one of the volunteers whose conviction was overturned on appeal earlier this year. Also look for Lollie Butler’s stunning poetry feature, “On the Dry Sea of Sonora.”

We’re proud to feature in this issue the riveting story of Marina Ginestà, the young Catalan woman featured on the cover of our print issue, whose face came to represent the Spanish Republican cause. Fascinating, too, is the history of Spanish anarchist communities in the United States. Look here for a touching posthumous reflection by Hannah Creighton on the lessons she learned from her father, Lincoln vet Len Olson. Finally, in this issue, we mourn the loss of Perry Rosenstein, the visionary president of the Puffin Foundation whose support has meant so much for ALBA and many other progressive organizations in the United States.

Thanks, as always, for being there and supporting our work. Thanks for making it possible for us to continue to share—and keep alive—the legacy of the Lincoln Brigade when the world most needs it.


Peter N. Carroll & Sebastiaan Faber, editors

P.S. Please consider a special contribution to support our new online Teaching Institutes that carry our message to students around the country and the world. ALBA’s new website makes donating easier than ever. Make a one-time gift or set up a monthly donation. All donations are tax-deductible. Go to