|An NSN banner from around 1990|
We’re delighted that the office is getting good use now—and for a cause as critical as immigrant rights. The Network is continuing to publish the online edition of Weekly News Update on the Americas--we hope you'll continue to read it.
It was a lot of work to clean up an office that had been used for more than 25 years by various groups--Nicaragua Support Project, NY Nicaragua Construction Brigade, ¡Adelante! Street Theater Project, Campaign for Real Equitable Economic Development (CREED), Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants and the Global Sweatshop Coalition--and we needed a lot of help. We won’t try to name all the people who participated, but they know who they are, and we appreciate all that they did.
2. New life at the old building
The NYSYLC isn’t the only new tenant at 339 Lafayette Street. Since October the building has provided an office for Global Revolution TV, which is best known for its live-stream video coverage from Occupy Wall Street; it also receives and distributes live feeds from independent journalists on the ground at nonviolent protests around the world.
Global Revolution TV has gotten the most media attention recently—in the New Yorker, for instance, and on CNN Money and Wired News—but 339 Lafayette continues to host a range of other activist groups, from the War Resisters League and the Granny Peace Brigade to the Socialist Party and the Met Council on Housing. The building, which is managed by the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, has structural problems, but there may be ways to rehabilitate it and preserve this important movement resource. For updates, go to
http://ajmuste.org/bldgupdate.html And you can donate at: https://www.justgive.org/giving/donate.jsp?charityId=4046&
3. The Network archives and historical memory
There was a tremendous accumulation of materials in the office from the Network and the other groups that had used it. We went through the mass of papers and donated a selection of them to New York University’s Tamiment Library, an internationally known center for scholarly research on labor and the left. The archives at Tamiment are especially useful for activists, since they are open to the public. For a summary of the Network archive, go to
http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/nicaragua_solidarity_network.html To find out how to access materials, go to http://www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/research/tam/usingtam.html
Our collection of posters and political buttons from a variety of movements is going to the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), which has the largest collection of post-World War 2 political graphics in the United States.
We want to stress the importance of preserving movement materials and making them available both to historians and to the general public. The media have done their best to ignore or dismiss our movements over the years, with the result that we’re often unaware of our own history, and unable to learn from our successes and our failures. We need to make sure our history doesn’t disappear.
If people know about the Central America solidarity movement at all, they probably think of the “sandalista” stereotype, not what we did to increase awareness about Central America in the 1980s, or how we worked to link the solidarity movement with support for the South African and Palestinian struggles, and with the work of homeless activists here in the US. Most of this never made it into the media or the history books, not even events as striking as our Sept. 12, 1987 action, in which solidarity activists set up more than 100 tables on New York City streets and in one day gathered at least 20,000 signatures demanding an end to US aid for the “contras,” who were murdering civilians and undermining the revolution in Nicaragua.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in doing more to keep this history from going down the memory hole. We’d be happy to help with research, with setting up interviews with movement activists, or with pulling together an event on the history of the solidarity movement.
4. Progress on the John Ross archives
We’ve also been working with a project for archiving the writings of John Ross, the famously independent journalist who covered Mexican social movements—and many other subjects—for some 40 years before his death in January 2011.
For more than a decade the Nicaragua Solidarity Network and the Weekly News Update distributed John’s weekly columns, first México Bárbaro (396 articles) and then Blind Man’s Buff (191 articles). Some of the columns appeared in The Nation and other publications, and some were recycled into John’s books on Mexico, but many never would have been published if we hadn’t provided a platform. (This also generated some extra income for John, although never as much as he deserved.)
The result was that we had the most complete edited collection of John’s articles from 1996 to 2007. For some time John had been talking to us about ways to get them on line so that they would be accessible for people looking for information in English on what was happening in Mexico during those years. He became especially concerned about this after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.
The articles were residing precariously in two very old PCs, but we managed to rescue them, with a lot of help from movement technicians, and now we’ve sent all 587 columns to the team John got together to work on finding a university archive for his papers. Hopefully we’ll be able to report soon that a university has agreed to maintain a website for the full collection.
5. We still have banners—and expenses
We still have some banners that people might want to preserve for history or adapt for new uses. Contact us if you’re interested in any of them. See photos here:
One more thing: You’ve probably received plenty of year-end fundraising appeals from various worthy causes. We’re not sending you another. But we do have expenses from the old office, so if you really want to help, you can always make checks or money orders payable to Nicaragua Solidarity Network and mail them to PO Box 20587, Tompkins Square Station, New York, NY 10009.
And don’t forget that you can help maintain 339 Lafayette as an activist center by donating to the AJ Muste Memorial Institute (mark your gift “via NSN for sheltering” to designate it for the sheltering program that provides a space for activism to thrive and grow in New York City):
|Construction Brigade banner, photo courtesy of Cyndi Kerr|