NPR’s Morning Edition today had the fascinating story of Abel Meeropol, the New York City teacher unionist and social activist who penned “Strange Fruit,” one of Billie Holiday’s most haunting and powerful recordings.
Meeropol, who graduated from the Bronx’s Dewitt Clinton HS in 1921 and later taught English there for 17 years, wrote the poem after seeing a photo of a lynching. It was first printed in a teachers union publication. He set it to music, and it eventually made its way to Billie Holiday.
But here’s where his story really gets interesting: He was also the adoptive father of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg’s two sons.
Robert Meeropol [né Rosenberg] says that in the months following his parents’ execution, it was unclear who would take care of him and his brother. It was the height of McCarthyism. Even family members were fearful of being in any way associated with the Rosenbergs or Communism.
Then, at a Christmas party at the home of W.E.B. Du Bois, the boys were introduced to Abel and Anne Meeropol. A few weeks later, they were living with them.
This Sunday, June 17 — Father’s Day — join UFT members and civil rights, faith, labor and community groups in a silent march to protest New York City’s “stop-and-frisk” policy. Let’s stand together to show that New Yorkers refuse to let young men of color be victimized by racial profiling.
The new documentary film “Bully,” directed by Sundance- and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, will see a wider release starting today thanks to a new PG-13 version that contains fewer expletives than the unrated version that has been screening at handful of theaters in NYC and LA.
A Slate writer on Sunday posted the first two articles in a series about a trove of report cards from a girls’ vocational school in New York City that he discovered in the basement of an old school building. It sounds like there will be some fascinating stories from his efforts to to learn more about what happened to the school’s graduates — some of whom may be the grandparents of today’s teachers and students:
I opened one of the drawers and was surprised to find hundreds, maybe thousands, of old report cards. Oddly, they were not for Stuyvesant High students. They were all for teenaged girls who’d attended some sort of trade school back in the early 1900s. Many of the report cards featured small photographs of the students, and most of them were loaded with unusually vivid commentary about everything from the students’ study habits to their personal appearance (one girl, who apparently had red hair, was described as a “real carrot-head”), all rendered in impossibly perfect fountain-pen script. I was immediately smitten.
Isn’t it awful how we are sometimes more persuaded or at least entertained by style than we are by substance? Doesn’t it make you feel guilty and isn’t it like a chemical addiction? Ideas that repel us can grab and hold our attention just because they are conveyed with panache. We may, for instance, be loyal listeners of radio talk show hosts or television pundits who we know perfectly well are completely in the wrong over practically any issue. And we may find those who share our views to be crashing bores. That must explain why almost all major talk show hosts are reactionaries and libertarians.
Though we may be riveted by their pretensions and narcissism, and though one of their favorite targets of abuse is public school educators and our unions, we don’t change the channel, the ratings show. Many of these “personalities” seem incapable of embarrassment and will engage and shout down audience participants who are far more expert than they are, for they feel entitled to pass as experts on everything under the sun, just because they gab for a maximum of a couple of hours in front of a microphone. More »
The Strike That Changed New York: Ocean Hill-Brownsville, the Politics of Education, & Race Relations in New York City, will feature Clarence Taylor, professor and author of Knocking At Our Own Door: Milton A. Galamison and the Struggle to Integrate New York City Schools, and Jerald Podair, professor and author of The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis, who will discuss the crisis and its aftermath with the Reverend Herbert Oliver, Chairman of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville local school board, and other participants from both sides of the struggle. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York. Reservations required. $6, museum members; $12, non-members; $8, seniors and students. Purchase tickets »
The uprising was in the Hayden Lakes area. That’s a tiny enclave to accommodate such a big conspiracy theory. For thirty years, until they were forced by court order to surrender their 20 acre compound to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2001 as part of a punitive and compensatory award of damages, the Aryan Nations’ headquarters was in Hayden Lakes. More »
In a new video, the UFT Family Child Care Providers remind us that to keep New Yorkers working, families need affordable, reliable child care; and that cutting child care subsidies for working New Yorkers is not a viable way for lawmakers to help close the state’s budget gap.
In December, the MTA announced plans to cut student MetroCards as part of a package of budget cuts, a move strongly opposed by the UFT. Without the free passes, a half million New York City school children will be left to finance their own way to school.
On March 17, students from the Urban Youth Collaborative and Students for Transportation Justice will meet with the chairman of the MTA, Jay Walder, to urge him to work with Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson to save their MetroCards.
The Working Families Party has put together a “teachers and parents petition” that the students will take along to the meeting. They want to walk in with thousands of teachers and parents at their back, to make clear to the MTA — and the media — how important free student MetroCards really are.
Please take a minute to sign this online petition and share it with other teachers, parents or family members of students who might be interested.
Everyday heroes are not always unsung. On occasion they actually get the recognition they deserve. If they performed their heroism while on “company time” and their unselfish deed conflicted with company policy and compromised productivity and the “bottom line,” they might not get the approbation from the front office, but at least there usually remains some media attention, even on a slow news day, or a “key to the city” to write home about.
Credit must be given, you might think, to a person whose split-second reaction to sudden danger, saves the lives of strangers.
Such a reflex, as much spiritual and physical, reveals and defines that person’s true character. Virtuous acts, especially when spontaneous and dramatic, are not done for glory, promotion, or an “employee of the month” citation. Although their reward is self-validation, even heroes like to be thanked, I am told.
Here is a summary of how three school bus drivers, under similar circumstances, were celebrated. More »
Health care reform is at a climactic crossroads. Necessity should speak for itself. But sometimes it needs vocal coaches.
Although the crush of medical bills is the prime cause of individual bankruptcy (and the catastrophic collateral damage it does to families) in this country, and despite our nation’s lagging far behind several dozen other countries (including many less wealthy than we are) in many indicators of health care quality, (such as longevity and infant mortality), and even though not a single major political party in any of these other democratic nations has ever proposed the elimination of their existing national health system, millions of gullible Americans have been suckered by reactionary special interests into practically equating a government-sponsored health care option with the worst excesses of Marxism.
Their resistance to proposed health care reform is macabre, not patriotic. More »
In the World Health Organization’s ranking of health care systems worldwide.
Do you think the Fordham Foundation’s Flypaper blog will devote the next two weeks to a Health Olympics, explaining how our showing behind such powerhouses as San Marino and Malta means economic disaster for the United States? More »