“The virtual event honoring Julius and Ethel Rosenberg last night was exceptionally well done. Thanks for all the great work!” After all the time the RFC spent planning the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the executions of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, comments like these made it all feel worthwhile.
Participants logged in from across the United States as well as Britain, France and Canada. We were gratified that so many members of our community–supporters, beneficiaries, friends from allied organizations, former staff and Board and folks learning about the RFC for the first time–joined us to watch the RFC’s new short film, The Rosenberg Case 70 Years Later: Fighting Fascism Then and Now. Funding for the program was made possible by The Puffin Foundation and we thank them for their generous, sustained support of our work.
RFC Advisory Board member Angela Y. Davis and activist, educator and beneficiary dad Russell Shoatz III opened the program with readings from Ethel and Julius’ prison correspondence. Rosenberg sons, RFC Founder Robert Meeropol and Advisory Board member Michael Meeropol, shared reflections on the ongoing effort to release still-classified documents related to their parents’ case and how the RFC grew from their childhood experiences and became Robert’s “constructive revenge.” National Book award-winning poet and RFC Advisory Board member Martín Espada shared the poem he wrote for Robert, “The Eleventh Reason,” accompanied by gorgeous animation by graphic artist Abby VanMuijen. And RFC friends and beneficiaries shared stories of activism, targeting and their battles against fascism and for a more just, equitable world.
In the aftermath of the event, we received feedback from so many members of our community; here are just a few examples:
“What a beautiful tribute and moving presentation. Both the story of the Rosenbergs and the stories of activists were so powerful. Hopefully there will be ways for many people to see the beautiful film.”
“Greetings and congrats on the event. Some of my family was in tears. My daughter [an RFC beneficiary]... and I have a new term to describe our reaction to state violence. ‘Constructive Revenge.’ I have been doing this for a while but have yet had a term to describe it. We will defeat the fascist with our ‘collective, constructive revenge.’ Thank you, thank you, much love.” (From an RFC beneficiary dad)
“That was a really brilliant presentation, thank you! The selections from their letters… the graphics and of course, the spectrum of testimonials (with a standing O to the young actor reading the school strike student’s testimony!).”
The other most common messages we received after the film were from viewers appreciating and wanting to see more of Abby VanMuijen’s fabulous graphic art in the film, and questions about the availability of the film after the two virtual events. (See our Key Updates article for answers to both these inquiries.)
Everyone at the RFC was moved by how enthusiastically and generously our community supported these events and showed up to help us commemorate this difficult anniversary. And given that one of our mottos, reflected in the title of this newsletter, is “carry it forward and pass it on,” it was especially meaningful to hear from longtime supporters who watched the program with their children or grandchildren, helping pass the Rosenbergs’ legacy to yet another generation.
Perhaps RFC Founder Robert Meeropol said it best during the closing minutes of the talk back after the final program on Sunday, June 25th, when he shared that the success of the RFC drastically exceeded his expectations and that so much of that success is a result of the staff, Board and donor and beneficiary communities who have ensured that we are not isolated or alone. We echo Robert’s comments and are all so profoundly grateful for all of you.