Letter from ALBA: Fighting For Our Rights

February 24, 2024

Dear Friends,

If we have learned one thing from political and judicial developments over the past couple of years, it’s that we cannot trust that the basic rights that past generations fought so hard to conquer are, and will remain, secure. The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade is a case in point—but voting rights, too, are continuously threatened in this country. These past years we’ve learned, the hard way, that we cannot rest. The fight for our fundamental rights, it turns out, requires constant vigilance. We need all hands on deck—especially in this election year.

This is where the amazing work of 18by Vote comes in, the recipient of this year’s ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. An entirely youth-led organization, 18by Vote works tirelessly to help young people understand how and when to vote. Most importantly, they help them understand why it is so vitally important to exercise their right to cast a ballot—and why it’s worth defending that right tooth and nail. 18by Vote creates sustainable civic leadership among young people who have been historically excluded from positions of leadership and power. Founded in response to low youth voter turnout in the 2016 general election, they have since activated hundreds of thousands of young people across the country to engage civically.

Fighting for democracy is what the volunteers of the Lincoln Brigade were all about. Featuring an organization like 18by Vote today is fully in line with ALBA’s mission to leverage the Lincolns’ legacy to educate the U.S. public, and young people in particular, about the importance of social and political activism.

In this issue, we’re proud to feature stories that, all in their own way, bring that point home—from James Fernández’s moving reflection on the painter Ben Shahn, who was close to many Lincoln volunteers, to the touching story of Bill Wallace, a Scotsman who in his 80s found out about his brave mother Chrissie, a nurse who died during the Spanish Civil War. For more on the label “premature antifascist” that the Lincoln vets would turn into a badge of pride, see David Walsh’s incisive piece here. Marta Martín Núñez introduces us to young Spanish photographers who are returning to the Civil War for inspiration. Our online edition, meanwhile, features several additional articles, including excerpts from two new memoirs by Lincoln Brigade descendants, Mark Asquino and Rich Rothman, and an interview with Alex Vernon about Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

As you well know, none of our work would be possible without your continued support. Your generous donations will allow us to continue reaching out to new audiences, both young and old, for years to come. Mil gracias for all you do.


Sebastiaan Faber & Peter N. Carroll, Editors