I am thrilled to announce that the RFC will co-sponsor Seeger Fest (www.seegerfest.org), a five day celebration (July 17 – 21) of the lives, work, activism and music of Pete and Toshi Seeger.
Seeger Fest, which will be held in various locations in New York City and upstate New York, was created by Pete and Toshi Seeger’s grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson, as “a way for those who knew and admired Pete and Toshi to remember them, and for those who hadn't heard of them, to get inspired by their compassion for the human race.” The festival will include movie screenings, a memorial, a photo exhibit, boat rides, a square dance, and several star-studded concerts – all free and open to the public, as Kitama believes his grandparents would have wanted.
As my dad and I wrote in our joint blog about the passing of Pete earlier this year, we could always count on Pete and Toshi to come to the RFC’s aid. Pete was the headliner at the kick-off benefit concert for the Rosenberg Fund for Children in 1990, and he and Toshi were original members of our Advisory Board. Pete also performed for the RFC in 2001, when he and his grandson Tao helped us celebrate the RFC’s 10th anniversary and gave the one and only public performance of a song about my grandparents that Woody Guthrie wrote, which we had previously discovered in the Guthrie Archives.
We are delighted and honored to have a chance in some small way to repay the enormous support Pete and Toshi provided us over the years. And I’m thrilled to see so many artists and activists connected to Seeger Fest who also share deep ties to the RFC. They include Advisory Board members Mike + Ruthy and Holly Near (www.rfc.org/staffandboards); as well as Peter Yarrow and Rebel Diaz, both of whom have performed for the RFC at past events. Finally, Seeger Fest is being co-produced by Gina Belafonte, whose father Harry has been an RFC Advisory Board member for more than a decade.
It is particularly fitting for us to sponsor this event, not only because of Pete and Toshi’s, and Harry’s, and Mike and Ruthy’s and other Seeger Fest performers’ connections to the RFC, but also because of the work we do and the context in which we do it.
The RFC helps children in the U.S. whose parents have been targeted because of their progressive activism. We also help young activists who have been targeted directly because of their own efforts. Our grants often enable these children and youth to participate in the arts, which can be a tremendous solace to children and youth experiencing trauma.
Our motto is “Carry it Forward,” by which we mean that through our work, we strive to nurture and transmit progressive values from one generation to the next. We use that phrase because my grandparents – in the last letter they wrote from death row to my father and uncle – said that they took comfort in the belief that others would carry on after them. Thankfully, others did, and still do… from Pete and Toshi to their grandson, Kitama, to young people today who are carrying on the fight for social, economic, and environmental justice on many fronts.
Finally, as the granddaughter of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, I am personally delighted to partner with Pete and Toshi’s grandson to carry forward and pass on Pete and Toshi’s legacy. We’ll provide more information about Seeger Fest events as it draws closer. I hope many of you will join us at the events throughout NYC and upstate New York for what promises to be a moving and memorable celebration of two truly inspiring people.
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