My grandparents were executed 70 years ago today. In their final letter to my father and uncle they wrote: “We died secure in the knowledge that others would carry on after us.” Since 1990, support from thousands of people allowed first my dad, and more recently me, to justify my grandparents' faith and convert the destruction that was visited upon our family into the Rosenberg Fund for Children.
When I was younger, I struggled with how to mark this somber anniversary and somehow simultaneously honor my grandparents’ memory and comfort my dad on this difficult day. I thought surely this was a unique experience I shared with just my sister and cousins. But when I joined the staff of the Rosenberg Fund for Children in 2007, I realized how many of our beneficiary families mark difficult milestones related to activism and targeting. Whether it’s a family struggling as they approach the anniversary of the politically motivated murder of a loved one; or a teenager’s memory of her environmental activist parent’s arrest, when she was held at gunpoint by FBI agents; or the first time a young boy sees his dad in prison after his conviction on politically motivated charges, children whose parents are targeted face special challenges that demand our support.
The RFC just awarded over $230,000 in grants to provide the critical assistance these kids deserve, which puts us on pace to exceed the record-breaking amount we awarded the last two years. We increased our granting budget deliberately, committing to provide as much support as we possibly could for children whose parents are fighting the same fascist forces, which doomed my grandparents. Seven decades after their death, we make these grants in their memory. And we trust that you will stand with us and allow us to make this and additional support this fall possible. Here are some examples of recent grants:
When Dominic was only three, his father was murdered by city police. His mother, while still in the depths of grief, founded an activist organization to support families impacted by police brutality and speak out against the horror of police shootings. Her commitment has led to repeated harassment by right-wing media and the same police department that destroyed her family. Although she has done everything she can to keep Dominic safe, he has also been harassed by police. As the family works to heal themselves and their community, an RFC grant will allow Dominic, now a teenager, finally participate in the trauma therapy he needs.
Five organizers, ages 20 to 23, participated in a student-led protest on their southern college campus calling for increased diversity and equity reform in opposition to Governor DeSantis. At their peaceful protest, campus police became violent, putting some of the protestors in chokeholds, body slamming others to the ground, and arresting many of them. One student activist was punched repeatedly in the head by an officer, and another was violently shoved against a wall by a cop. The campus police, who have a history of violence, are charging some of the students with assaulting officers; these students face possible expulsion and criminal charges. $1000 RFC development grants will allow all of them to receive counseling and attend conferences to network and continue their activism.
With your help, the RFC is making a significant difference in the lives of these young people and hundreds of others like them. Since 1990 we’ve awarded almost $8.8 million for therapy, sports, arts programs, summer camp, prison visits, and other educational and therapeutic opportunities vital to helping these kids not just survive, but thrive. Your donations support the children of targeted union organizers, brutalized anti-racist activists, fired teachers, harassed journalists, environmentalists behind bars, and so many more.
Childhood memories can be painful, but I know that they can be transformed into a powerfully positive force. That’s why the Rosenberg Fund for Children makes grants that help alleviate the nightmarish experiences of political repression by connecting kids to a nurturing community. Times are hard and finances remain tight, but I bet you can think of few things more worthy of your support than bringing solace to these kids. This is your opportunity to embrace all of these children and assure them that they are not alone.
You know we will use your precious funds carefully. The RFC has been helping kids and youth like these efficiently and effectively for over 30 years. 90% of every dollar you contribute in response to this letter will be awarded to children like those described above.
On this seventieth anniversary, I share this message from my father, Rosenberg son and RFC founder, Robert Meeropol: “My parents died because they fought fascism. Seventy years later, with fascism raising its ugly head again, there is no better way to honor their legacy than to join me in supporting current anti-fascist fighters with your generous donation.”
Please consider making a donation in memory of my grandparents, in honor of my father’s incredible vision, which birthed the RFC, and to support every child who, like me, has a painful anniversary woven into their family history. I know you will be most generous. Thank you!