This is my fourth blog in a series which uses "Unknown Secrets," a collage by Martha Rosler, as an organizing principle to explore how the popular press, the prosecution, the defense, supporters, politicians, and the highly charged political and cultural climate influenced how people perceived my grandmother, Ethel Rosenberg, then and now.
This is my third blog in a series which uses "Unknown Secrets," a collage by Martha Rosler*, as an organizing principle to explore how the popular press, the prosecution, the defense, supporters, politicians, and the highly charged political and cultural climate influenced how people perceived my grandmother, Ethel Rosenberg.
(Part 2 of the The RFC at 25 and Ethel Rosenberg at 100 series)
The first blog in this series explored the public response to the press conference my grandmother, Ethel Rosenberg, held in her kitchen in support of her husband, Julius Rosenberg, after his arrest in 1950. As I mentioned in my previous blog, an image of Ethel from that day is the centerpiece of "Unknown Secrets," a collage by Martha Rosler.* Numerous atomic images and anti-communists “frame” or surround Ethel in Rosler’s artwork.
(Guest post by Rosenberg Fund for Children founder, Robert Meeropol. Hear more from Robert about the iconic song, Strange Fruit, see its relevance to current Movement for Black Lives, and watch a powerful performance of it by artist Pamela Means, in the video below.)
(Part 1 of the The RFC at 25 and Ethel Rosenberg at 100 series)
What was the cultural context of Ethel’s trial and execution? The era of the 1950's was captivated by the idea of the housewife in her kitchen. This image was used to sell a multitude of products, to remind women of their proper place, and to reassure the war-weary populace that everything was back to normal and “cooking” again.
If she were still living, my grandmother, Ethel Rosenberg, would turn 100 on September 28th of this year. The same month will also mark the 25th anniversary of the Rosenberg Fund for Children. My Executive Director’s Report in the spring 2015 issue of our newsletter explores how the RFC plans to honor these milestones in a variety of ways as 2015 unfolds, while reflecting on how much has changed and what has remained constant at the RFC over our first quarter century.
Last week I attended the opening of the new exhibit of my grandparents’ prison correspondence at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center. The event offered attendees a preview of the exhibit, which includes hundreds of letters Ethel and Julius wrote to each other, their attorney, my father and uncle, and other family members from their arrests in 1950 until just before their executions in June 1953.
My grandparents were executed 61 years ago today. In their final letter to my father and uncle they wrote they “were comforted in the sure knowledge that others would carry on after us.” (Click here to see Eve Ensler and Cotter Smith read the letter, introduced by Angela Davis.) Since 1990, support from thousands of people allowed first my dad, and more recently me, to justify their faith and convert the destruction that was visited upon our family into the Rosenberg Fund for Children to benefit kids whose families a
The subject of treason came up in a rerun of the television series I was watching last week. Naturally, the heroes got involved in foiling a terrorism plot. While being given classified government information during a briefing they were told that if they divulge anything about it they would be committing treason. I didn’t think anything of this at the time, perhaps because recently I’ve heard similar statements on several other TV shows.