Monthly Review was chosen for a 1997 Frederick Douglass Award, an award given annually by the North Star Fund. We were of course pleased to be so honored and thought that MR readers would be interested to learn more about it. In fact, considering that so many of you, as supporters and friends, are members of the MR family, the award properly belongs to you as well as the staff.
The North Star Fund was founded in 1979 with a view to creating a permanent financial base for funding progressive social change in New York City. Since its founding, millions of dollars have been granted to more than a thousand community-based organizations. The grants are not large, often quite small, and cover a wide range of social activity, including: anti-racism, women’s rights, housing, health care, lesbian and gay rights, workers’ rights, the rights of disabled persons, and immigrants’ rights. In addition to its focus on progressive causes, it is also unique in trying to operate a partnership between donors and activists. Donors are encouraged to be more than providers of funds, rather to become activists in the grassroots organizations they support. Its name says a lot, since it recalls the North Star newspaper established by Frederick Douglass on December 3, 1847. Moreover the annual awards are given to commemorate both his name and his spirit as a lifelong spokesperson and fighter, not only for the abolition of slavery but for justice for all oppressed men and women.
The other recipients of the Frederick Douglass Awards in the 150th anniversary year of the North Star reflects the range of the Fund’s interests: City Limits, a magazine covering the movement of activists and experts concerned with New York’s low-income communities, including notable investigative reporting on city housing, welfare, and landlord exploitation.; Juan Gonzales, an activist from early youth, now a staff columnist on the New York Daily News, noted for his accurate reporting and critical commentary in areas underplayed or badly distorted by the media as a whole (including the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, and struggles in Central America and the Caribbean) also an active Newspaper Guild member who chaired the Guild strike committee during the five-month strike at the New York Daily News in 1990-91; Manning Marable, history professor and director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, an engaged political activist as well as an outstanding scholar: his most recent book is Black Liberation in Conservative America (1997), and forthcoming in 1998 is his Black Leadership: Ideology, Politics and Culture in African-American History; and Susan Meiselas, one of the leading contemporary photographers, whose work portrays people in their struggle for social justice and human dignity, and whose photograhic essays documented history in her books, Nicaragua, Chile: From Within, Carnival Strippers, and Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History.
Perhaps we are reading too much into the inclusion of MR in this roster and the reasons given for this choice, among which is that we “continue to widen the horizons of Marxist inquiry.” That is nice to hear from an organization devoted to grassroots movements. The presentation process was very different from similar ceremonies in progressive organizations. If anything, it was like a miniature, albeit low-key, theatrical or movie-award affair, but without the envelopes. When called, the recipients had to enter on stage left, walk across a brightly-lit bare stage to the podium at stage right, where two hosts officiated.The hosts were Gregory Hines, Tony Award-winning actor and dancer, currently starring on CBS’s The Gregory Hines Show; and Pamela Koslow Hines, producer of numerous shows including the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Jelly’s Last Jam. All in all, a lively heart-warming affair which we wish could have embraced in person all of the MR family.
We regret to report the death on December 5th of Stanley Moore, age eighty-three. He was a good friend of two of us over many decades. He was an exceptionally erudite scholar in philosophy and political and social analysis, especially in Marxist thought. MR published his Three Tactics: The Background in Marx (1963). Reed College fired him in 1954 from his job as teacher of philosophy because he refused to tell the House Un-American Activities Committee whether he was a member of the Communist Party. The story of that firing and later attempts to get Reed College to make amends was told in Michael Munk’s “Reversing the Verdicts: The Case of Reed College” (MR, March 1992).
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