Letter from ALBA: The fabric of time
The threads of the past are woven into the fabric of the present. That is what we mean when we talk about the Lincoln Brigade as a legacy: we acknowledge that the lives of the volunteers, and the values that drove them, continue to be important today. A legacy is a gift, but it is also a responsibility. We have accepted it with gratitude, but now it is up to us to tend to it—to preserve it, to keep it alive, and to pass it on to younger generations. It’s what the ALBA community is about. And we can’t fulfill our responsibility without your generous support.
The legacy of the past in Spain is more complicated. This year, we are thrilled to honor the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) as recipient of the ALBA/Puff Award for Human Rights Activism, five years after the first ALBA/Puff Award was granted to Judge Baltasar Garzón. Over the past decade, the ARMH has worked tirelessly to make it possible for victims’ families to recover the remains of loved ones who were summarily killed between 1936 and the 1940s. (ALBA’s James Fernández tells the story movingly on page 4.) Under the leadership of Emilio Silva, ARMH has also become a powerful voice calling for transitional justice, not only in Spain but across the globe.
The Association’s work also has a strong connection to last year’s prize winner, Bryan Stevenson. His organization, Equal Justice Initiative, also works to settle a moral debt to the past: the unacknowledged legacy of racial oppression in the United States today. This is the message of Bryan’s compelling new book, Just Mercy, reviewed by Renee Romano in this issue. As Bryan told us last year, achieving justice requires that we change the narrative. Indeed, the way Garzón and Silva have helped reframe recent Spanish history is part of the “paradigm shift” that Peter N. Carroll describes in his essay “From Guernica to Human Rights,” an excerpt from his forthcoming book with the same title (see page 13).
Two other contributors in this issue, Dean Burrier Sanchís and Irving Epstein, are friends we made in November when we visited Illinois Wesleyan University for an ALBA teachers institute. Dean shares a moving text from his grandfather, a Lincoln volunteer who was captured by Franco. Irv, in his Human Rights Column, reflects on the importance of recent youth protest movements across the globe.
Looking at this issue we can’t help but notice a sense of coherence. All the threads connect—between the past and the present, between Spain and the United States, and between the legacy of the Lincolns and those who struggle for human rights today. Thanks for keeping the fabric strong.
p.s. Don’t forget how your steady support makes all these amazing projects possible.