As someone for whom fundraising is an important part of her job, one of the best and most mysterious occurrences RFC Executive Director Jenn Meeropol encounters is the seemingly out-of-the-blue donation. She always wishes she could ask the donor what motivated them to contribute at this particular time or amount; especially when there is no obvious trigger. The RFC received one of these donations recently from a new donor, Jonathan, and Jennifer had no way of knowing what inspired his gift. She emailed him a thank you and figured that would be the end of the story. Instead, she received a lovely reply from him describing his relationship to “Strange Fruit,” Abel Meeropol and his decision to donate to organizations supporting children impacted by racism and political oppression. Read all about it in a new blog.
On April 24th, RFC Founder Robert Meeropol & Advisory Board member Michael Meeropol were interviewed on CBS's "This Morning: Saturday" for a segment on #strangefruit which will include info about their father (& songwriter), Abel Meeropol. The segment is available to watch online here.
The next day, the New York Times ran an excellent piece about the history of the iconic song, available here. From the article: "in the 21st century, 'Strange Fruit' has lived on, sampled in the 2000 song 'What’s Really Going On,' in which the singer Dwayne Wiggins recounts an episode of racial profiling at the hands of the police in Oakland, Calif....And in 2021, as the nation continues to reckon with a series of killings of unarmed Black people by the police — often captured in gruesome footage of Black men being shot or, in the case of George Floyd, knelt on by white officers — 'Strange Fruit' has maintained its place in the national conversation about racism.'
The RFC's Spring 2021 newsletter is live. Highlights include how we're continuing to support beneficiaries during the COVID-19 crisis, a report on the RFC's record-breaking fall granting cycle, Executive Director Jenn Meeropol's reaction to the attack on the Capitol, additional ways to support the RFC, Robert Meeropol's thoughts on a new biography of his mother due later this year, new staff, building virtual community and how to contact the RFC while staff are working remotely. Check out all the news here.
RFC Founder Robert Meeropol's new op-ed for TIME draws critical parallels between the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol and lynch mobs in the American South: "The Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6th have been called seditious rioters, insurrectionists and domestic terrorists. I think of them as a lynch mob. Perhaps that’s because Abel Meeropol, who wrote the anti-lynching anthem “Strange Fruit,” was my father." Read the essay here
Six years ago RFC Founder Robert Meeropol's blog “Strange Convergence” compared details of the life of his mother, Ethel Rosenberg, to that of Billie Holiday, the singer who made Abel Meeropol’s song, “Strange Fruit,” famous. Ethel and Billie appeared to be an unlikely couple. However, they were both born in poverty in 1915, had excellent singing voices, although Billie’s surpassed Ethel’s, and were precocious. Ethel graduated high school at 15 and helped lead a victorious strike at 19, while Billie sang in Harlem clubs at 17, and was a successful recording artist by 20. And they both got in trouble with the law, which led to their untimely deaths. Finally, there’s the Abel Meeropol connection; Abel adopted Ethel’s children and wrote Billie’s most famous song. And now, a new convergence has emerged. Read all about it in Robert Meeropol's new blog
RFC staff are continuing to work remotely and our office remains closed indefinitely. To make it easier for our community to contact us, we've set up temporary phone numbers: please call 508-275-2258 for all granting inquiries and 413-239-2711 for all other questions. You can also reach us via email (all granting and application questions can be directed to Tori at firstname.lastname@example.org; press inquiries and donation or general questions to Rachel at email@example.com and our Executive Director Jenn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).
"This has felt like the longest, most monumental election of my lifetime." RFC Executive Director Jenn Meeropol shares her thoughts on 2020 and reports on the RFC's record-breaking fall granting cycle. Learn more, including how you can stand with the children of targeted activists at this critical time, here.
The RFC's Fall 2020 newsletter is out. It focuses on finding a “New Normal” for grants in this extraordinary moment; our virtual 30th anniversary celebration; Executive Director Jenn Meeropol’s thoughts on the current crises; the $168,000+ of grants awarded in the most recent cycle; the premiere of Bully.Coward.Victim: The Story of Roy Cohn on HBO & HBO MAX; and more.
October 13th is the fall deadline to submit an application for grant support. You can find our basic info sheet and downloadable application documents on our granting applications page here.
If you are interested in applying, we encourage you to reach out to Sophie Chambers, who manages the grants program. Sophie is available to answer any questions you have about the application process, eligibility, use of funds,or other grant-related topics.
Grant applications are reviewed by our Board of Directors in November and families will hear from us with final decisions by early December.
"My wife’s fourth novel, Her Sister’s Tattoo, was published in April. It’s the story of Esther and Rosa, whose arrests during an anti-Vietnam War protest tear the sisters apart. It’s fiction, but it hits close to home. Elli has said that she never intended to write a novel about the Rosenberg Case. Still, it is hard to miss the parallels between my parents’ case and Elli’s story."
Robert shares his thoughts on his wife's latest novel, it's connections to the RFC, and "the most satisfying experience of his adult work life" in a new blog post here.