August 21, 2014
For years, I have admired the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and its commitment to social justice, and just last week, I arrived for my first day as the new executive director. I can barely contain my excitement! The Institute has influenced my career as an activist in many ways over the past thirty years, and I am thrilled and honored to have an opportunity to help shape its future.
As head of the National Lawyers Guild since 1999, I worked to support nonviolent organizing on the legal front.
Now I’m in the hub of activism that is 339 Lafayette Street, the “Peace Pentagon.” Just down the hall, the New York State Youth Leadership Council, a Muste Institute tenant and grantee, is holding its annual Youth Empowerment Project training, a summer program developing leadership and political awareness among immigrant community members. They’ve decorated the hallway with popular education materials explaining the history of immigration and immigrant rights. Activists-in-training share their stories, watch videos of recent actions, and brainstorm about organizing strategies.
Downstairs, our colleagues at the War Resisters League have joined with Bay Area groups in sponsoring a week of action against Urban Shield, a SWAT team training and weapons expo at the Oakland Marriott in early September. A third tenant and grantee, Met Council on Housing, is busy mobilizing the public to protect rent regulation in New York.
The grant applications sitting on my desk provide more inspiration. Projects to boycott institutionalized racism in the Dominican Republic; to make conscientious objection more visible in Israel; to support families protesting forced disappearance in Colombia; and on the domestic front, to defend prisoners’ rights and promote alternatives to militarism.
Back in 1983, I was among 12,000 women from around the world who took part in nonviolence trainings, direct actions and civil disobedience to protest nuclear weapons as part of the Seneca Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice. Imagine my delight to learn during my first week on the new job that the Encampment was organized out of 339 Lafayette Street, and the Muste Institute helped it get started with a grant and fiscal sponsorship!
I could not be more excited to be working for an organization with so much history, and so much future. Please join me in honoring this legacy and carrying it forward with a generous gift.
If you’ve already donated this year, we appreciate it—and we hope you’ll consider giving a little extra, so we can do even more to promote nonviolent social action throughout the world.
Thanks in advance for your support!
P.S. As always, your gift to the Muste Memorial Institute is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donate online here or mail your check to A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012.