Letter from ALBA: Antifascism, Education, and Labor

August 30, 2023
By and

Dear Friends,

The three threads running through this issue are directly linked to ALBA’s mission and history. The first thread underscores how important it is to identify fascism wherever it shows up—and to face it head-on. We don’t have to explain to you why that is particularly important today. “We can no longer teach fascism as something safely tucked away in the past,” the historian Janet Ward tells us. “It’s a present danger.”

The second thread is education: to act in the present with an eye to a better future, we cannot afford to ignore the past. Everything ALBA does aims not only to educate audiences young and old, but to inspire those audiences to action. And nothing makes us happier than to see the results of our work, from Iago Macknik-Conde, a National History Day finalist this year, to Catherine Wigginton Greene, the writer and documentary filmmaker who in 1999 won a George Watt Award. To read about the worrisome challenges that history education faces in this country today, don’t miss our interview with Brendan Gillis of the American Historical Association.

The third thread is that the backbone of progressive activism is a strong, healthy labor movement. It’s no coincidence that many Lincoln volunteers were leaders in their unions. As it happens, labor is also a focus of our programming this year. ALBA was proud to feature a panel at the Bay Area Labor Fest this year, as Richard Bermack tells us. Peter Miller’s poignant documentary about Sacco and Vanzetti inspired a lively discussion at our online event in August, where we were joined by two comrades of the Democratic Socialists of America Fund. And in November, we’re proud to feature Karen Nussbaum, feminist and labor activist, cofounder of 9to5 and Working America. (Karen’s father, the actor Mike Nussbaum, is a longtime reader of this magazine.)

As you browse this issue, be sure to check out our other stories as well. Aaron Retish speaks with Sarah Watling about her new book on international women in the Spanish Civil War; Mark Derby introduces us to Bob Ford, a Lincoln vet who fled McCarthyism. And James Fernández reflects on beginnings and endings in the first of two touching think pieces.

As you well know, none of this would be possible without your generous, steadfast support. Mil gracias. A special thanks to the Puffin Foundation and to Jay and Judy Greenfield, the sponsors of this issue. As always, you may use the envelope included in this issue to make a donation or simply go online to alba-valb.org/donate.


Sebastiaan Faber and Peter N. Carroll, Editors

P.S. ALBA’s Teaching Institutes continue to prosper. Please continue to support them with a donation.

P.S. (2) If you do not receive our print edition, you may view it here.