Letter from ALBA: They Did Not Pass

November 14, 2020
By and

Dear Friends,

No pasaron. They did not pass.

As this issue goes to print, we are emerging from one of the most intense election seasons the United States has ever lived through, following four years that have revealed the best and the worst faces of this country. On the one hand, we saw a rabid resurgence of racism, red-baiting, and vote suppression, along with willful attempts to undermine democracy. On the other hand, we’ve seen grassroots activists combining old-fashioned forms of protest and organizing—from letter campaigns to putting bodies in the street—with creative and innovative ways to mobilize the vote and fight racial oppression.

While the election’s outcome gives reasons for optimism, it also makes clear how much work remains to be done. Central among the many areas that require our attention and support is education—at all levels, from elementary school students to adults. No one who has paid attention in the past four years can deny that the level of disinformation and ignorance in this country has reached dangerous levels.

At ALBA, we believe we have something to contribute here. We believe that learning about the past can serve as an inspiration. Not along the lines of “patriotic education” that some have called for, but in a critical, responsible, respectful way—exemplified in this issue by the young winners of the annual Watt award and Helen Graham’s timely critique of her colleagues. Focusing on political struggles from the past, we believe, helps illuminate questions that urgently concern our political present. As Robin D.G. Kelley points out in his conversation with Aaron Retish, what we’ve seen in recent years responds to all-too-familiar patterns: “Fascists consistently claim the mantle of civilization, the restoration of Law and Order, while attacking every manifestation of genuine social democracy.”

In one way or another, all the stories in this issue invite us to reflect on the enduring legacy of antifascism, from the photographer Lini Bunjes and dancer Martha Graham to Hollywood’s support for the Spanish Republic and Spain’s ongoing struggle against the legacies of Francoism, whether it’s through a new memory law or by recovering plundered real estate.

The elections and pandemic have not stopped us—to the contrary. ALBA’s online events—from our movie screenings and panel discussions to our celebration of the newly restored Lincoln Brigade Monument in San Francisco, with Isabel Allende and others—have drawn thousands of people from around the world. Following our first successful online teacher workshop this past summer, we’re organizing a second four-week session early in the new year.

Thank you so much for your ongoing support of our work. For organizations like ALBA, the end-of-year donation cycle is crucial. In your ptiny issue, you’ll find a donation envelope—but of course you can also give online, at alba-valb.org/donate or, even better, set up a monthly donation amount.

In the words of Angelo Herndon quoted by Kelley: “Fascism won’t stop anywhere–until we stop it.” ¡No pasarán!

Sebastiaan Faber & Peter N. Carroll, editors

 

 

 

 


P.S. The Volunteer needs your help

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We know this is a big “ask”! If you are able to consider a gift at this level, to sponsor an edition of The Volunteer, please contact Mark Wallem, ALBA’s Executive Director, at mwallem@alba-valb.org.

Please know that we appreciate every gift, large or small, that comes our way. Thank you for your generosity and your support of The Volunteer

 

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