Carry It Forward

       

“We rededicate ourselves to fight our government’s war-making abroad and repression at home. We will not name names. We will not keep quiet. Like Ethel and Julius we believe a better world is possible. We will nurture future generations who will carry it forward and pass it on.” Narrator Angela Davis (left) spoke these words, from the script penned by Ellen Meeropol, near the end of the RFC’s June 16th CARRY IT FORWARD: Celebrate the Children of Resistance program (www.rfc.org/cifevent) in New York City’s Town Hall theater.

The audience cheered, then stood up dancing and applauding as folk duo (and new RFC Advisory Board members) Mike + Ruthy (left), and the hip hop group Rebel Diaz (right), led the entire cast in a powerful version of a Bob Marley classic. The nearly 1000 people in the hall sang along, “Get up! Stand up! Stand up for your rights! Get up! Stand up! Don’t give up the fight!” With this rousing finale, the program that commemorated Ethel and Julius Rosenberg at the 60th anniversary of their executions, and passed the RFC’s leadership from their son, Robert Meeropol, to their granddaughter, Jennifer Meeropol, came to a jubilant close.

Afterwards, the RFC received an avalanche of impassioned feedback:

“It was just a gorgeous production. Even friends who couldn’t make it heard from others that it was quite ­perfect.”

“What an amazing, beautiful event! It gave me so much inspiration and in these dark times we need that more than ever.”

“It was very VERY wonderful and seemed to go without a hitch. We loved every minute of it, loved the enthusiasm of the audience, as well as the beautiful and touching production itself.”

One performer wrote: “I feel honored and humbled to have been a part of such an important and heartfelt experience. [C]ongratulations on creating such a memorable moment in time.”

And one attendee later blogged: “We the audience, including many elders who were the Rosenbergs’ contemporaries, who marched for them, who wept at their deaths, who still know which side they’re on, and the rest of us, we got up, we stood up, we sang too, and at the risk of sounding mawkish I think we all of us felt an echo of Ethel and Julius singing along with us, our martyrs whose voices have never been stilled.”

CARRY IT FORWARD interspersed dramatic readings and dramatized vignettes with music and poetry, honored the legacy of resistance passed on from the Rosenbergs and others, and the courage of families who continue to resist today. In addition to Angela Davis, the stellar cast of readers included Eve Ensler (left) (also a new member of the RFC Advisory Board), and Cotter Smith (right) portraying Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Michael Meeropol joined his brother Robert and niece Jenn, to share memories of his ­parents.

RFC Advisory Board member Martín Espada presented his poem, “All the People Who Are Now Red Trees” (available here). International human rights attorney Lennox Hinds portrayed U.S. political prisoner, Russell Maroon Shoatz, while Shola Lynch (director of Free Angela & All Political Prisoners) and Djibril Toure (Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Communities United for Police Reform) portrayed his ­daughter and son.

Klemente Gilbert-­Espada, Christina González, Emma Lang, RFC Board Chair Rafael Rodríguez Cruz, and the Serious Play! Theatre Ensemble (Alyssa Breguet, Matt Haughton, Tony Manica, Mike Pray & Kaliis Smith) shared their own stories as activists and represented RFC beneficiaries including the family of Tito Kayak (learn more about Serious Play! here). The head of Serious Play!, former RFC Board member, Sheryl Stoodley, directed the production which was made possible in part by the generous support of The Puffin Foundation Ltd. and Vivian Glassman Pataki and family.

CARRY IT FORWARD (full event) video