In 2016, the RFC and the Meeropol family launched a petition campaign calling on President Obama to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg, after the release of previously secret grand jury records provided additional proof that Ethel was not a spy, and that the government knew that at the time but prosecuted and executed her anyway. The petition garnered massive press coverage and tens of thousands of supporters, and significantly altered the public narrative about Ethel.
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Why was this effort important?
It was essential to do this because:
- The U.S. government understood Ethel was not a spy but manufactured a case against her, and executed her, anyway.
- Our faith in our democracy requires that our government correct its transgressions.
- Ethel's execution took place at the height of the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy Era. Today we're witnessing a resurgence of the same kind of attacks, only now, they’re aimed at Muslims, immigrants, and transgender people; as well as Black Lives Matter organizers, environmental activists, and others challenging our system.
Who Supported the Campaign?
At the 2016 event, the brothers issued a statement calling on President Obama to rise to the challenge and do the right thing, not just for Ethel but for the country.
Even though President Obama was not moved to act, the campaign was resoundingly successful at changing the narrative about Ethel Rosenberg and educating the public about the dangers of government overreach. In the process, tens of thousands of new people were introduced to the Rosenberg Fund for Children's work aiding activist families who are under attack in this country today.