A.J. Muste Memorial Institute: Muste Notes, Fall 2003
A.J. Muste Memorial Institute
339 Lafayette Street, New York, New York 10012, (212) 533-4335

Excerpts from
VOL. 11, NUMBER 1— Fall 2003

Dear Friends
NYC Student Designs Peace Banner
New Developments—Update on Funded Projects
NYC Screening of Howard Zinn Documentary
New Grants, Jun. - Jul. 2003
For an Acrobat PDF version of the most recent edition of Muste Notes click here
Past editions of Muste Notes are here

August 29, 2003
Dear Friends,

For nearly 30 years, the Muste Institute has been working in the background, supporting activist projects through grants and sponsorships, and spreading the word about nonviolence through our popular pamphlet series. But even among the activists who benefit from our grants and the readers of our Essay Series pamphlets, both A.J. Muste and the Institute founded in his honor remain largely unknown, especially to younger generations. The result of this low profile is that many activists don't know they can benefit from our resources.

We're working to change that. This year we've added new staff (administrative assistant Jeanne Strole, who started here in June) and new board members (Diane Tosh and Rebecca Libed, who joined earlier this year after stints on the staff). We're recruiting more board members, revamping our website, stepping up literature promotion and organizing special events (such as the Howard Zinn documentary screening planned for November).

We want you to join us in this effort. Tell your fellow activists, friends and colleagues about the Muste Institute and our programs. If you have a website, put in a link to ours (ajmuste.org). Buy some of our pamphlets to distribute to schools, libraries or even to friends as gifts (use the handy form on the back page of this newsletter). And, of course, make a contribution. If you haven't already responded to our recent appeal, please send us a donation now. If you already sent one, thank you! Any additional gift you can send will help us fuel and sustain this new energy, and make it contagious.

Some of you may have recently received the extra "child deduction" tax refunds. This is the Bush administration's bribe to smooth over the concerns about mounting military spending in Iraq while education, healthcare, libraries and social services are slashed at home. It would be a great and powerful gesture if you use this "tax cut" to boost the nonviolent struggle for justice around the world by sending a tax-deductible contribution to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute.

In peace,
Murray Rosenblith
Executive Director

NYC Student Designs Peace Banner

On August 19, the winning design in the Banners for Peace contest was unveiled atop the roof of 339 Lafayette Street. The banner is the creation of Philip Madrazo, a New York City high school student, and is the culmination of several months' collaboration between Philip and Lee Brozgold, a local artist and volunteer archivist at the War Resisters League. Philip, who attends the Michael J. Petrides School on Staten Island, submitted the winning design and worked with Lee during the summer to develop the banner. The student and his family gathered with Muste Institute Board members, staff and volunteers to unveil and celebrate the completed banner. Executive Director Murray Rosenblith presented Philip with the award for the design: a check for $50.

During the past thirty years, the neighborhood surrounding the Muste Institute has been inundated with commercial advertising. The Institute has consistently refused to allow its property to be used for any commercial display. In the past, activist tenants have displayed anti-war and social justice banners along the building's roof. This effort dates back to 1982 when 339 Lafayette Street was completely decorated with banners in support of the United Nations' Second Special Session on Disarmament and the massive June 12 peace demonstration. In the months leading up to the Gulf War, an enormous banner demanding "Talks, not Troops." adorned the roof. In the Spring of 1995, as President Clinton was busily slashing health and welfare spending, staff members of the Muste Institute and War Resisters League put up a banner reading: "It's simple--cut the military budget."

Immediately after September 11, 2001, reacting to the attack on the World Trade Center (less than two miles south of the Muste building), a group of activists at 339 Lafayette quickly made up a banner featuring a well-known quote from Mohandas Gandhi: "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." This banner remained on the Bleecker Street side of the building for over a year before it disintegrated. In the spring of 2003, Lee Brozgold proposed that the Muste Institute create a contest for high school students to design and install a more permanent banner using this same quote.

Philip's design was influenced by a close friend of his who is blind. In fact, Philip, in order to better understand his friend, learned Braille. He used this knowledge to create the banner, which will remain on view indefinitely atop the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute building at 339 Lafayette.

New Developments
An Update on Projects Funded by the Muste Institute

On October 11, 2003, Pennsylvania Abolitionists United Against the Death Penalty will sponsor a "Rally for a Moratorium on Executions" in the state capital, Harrisburg. Featured speakers at the rally will include former Illinois governor George Ryan, who imposed a moratorium on executions and commuted the sentences of all death row prisoners in his state before leaving office. The 3pm rally at the west entrance to the Capitol (3rd and State Streets) will be followed by a 5pm march to the mansion of Governor Ed Rendell. Earlier in the day, a mid-Atlantic regional student conference against the death penalty will be held at the Grace United Methodist Church in Harrisburg.

Governor Rendell has repeatedly refused to consider a moratorium, despite a March 2003 report in which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System called for a halt to executions. The Committee concluded that race plays "a major, if not overwhelming, role in the imposition of the death penalty in some counties in Pennsylvania,"and that the state is failing to provide indigent capital defendants with adequate representation.

The rally will mark the culmination of a six-month statewide campaign for a moratorium, which the Muste Institute supported with a $1,000 grant last December. With busloads of people set to arrive from around the state, organizers hope the October rally will be the largest public gathering condemning capital punishment in Pennsylvania's history. For more information, contact Pennsylvania Abolitionists at 215-724-6120 or [email protected], http://www.pa-abolitionists.org/

NYC Screening of Howard Zinn Documentary

“I had a modest goal when I became a teacher.
I wanted to change the world.”
-- Howard Zinn

On Wednesday, November 12, 2003, the Muste Institute will sponsor a screening of "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train," a new documentary by Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller which the Muste Institute funded with a $1,000 grant last December.The film portrays historian and activist Zinn's involvement in the most important social movements of the 20th century, and his continuing engagement in the most critical issues facing our world today.

The film will be screened at 7 pm at the Puffin Room, at 435 Broome Street, between Broadway and Crosby in downtown Manhattan. Refreshments will be served.

The screening will coincide with Shocked and Awed: Iraqi Children Depict "Operation Iraqi Freedom", a collection of artwork drawn in June 2003 by the children of Assail School, Baghdad, Iraq, curated by Carl Rosenstein & collected by Patrick Dillon. Admission for the screening and the art exhibit will be by donation.

The Puffin Room is an interactive cultural exhibition space operated by the Puffin Foundation, which provides grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy. http://www.puffinroom.org/, http://www.agitfilm.com/



“The world does not have to go to war and commit suicide.... But it can escape that calamity only if there are those who do not believe that catastrophe is inevitable; who do not believe that you have to line up with one side or the other in the 'cold' war; who are willing to pursue a course that will seem politically ineffective and foolish to 'the wise of this world'. . . .”

(from Theology of Despair, an Open Letter to Reinhold Niebuhr, 1948)

New Grants, June-July 2003

New York, NY: $1,500
GABRIELA Network NY/NJ (GABNet), is a local chapter of Gabriela Network, a Philippine-US women's solidarity organization founded in 1989. It functions as a training ground for women's leadership, and helps articulate women's points of view. GABNet effects change through organizing, educating, fundraising, networking, and advocacy. This grant, awarded to GABNet's NY/NJ Chapter, will go toward developing educational materials and events for the Women's Anti-Imperialist League (WAIL), focused on the impact of US imperialism on women in the US and around the world. http://www.gabnet.org/

New York, NY: $1,500
JFREJ was organized in 1990 to provide a Jewish voice in multicultural coalitions for social justice in New York City and a progressive voice in the local Jewish community. This grant goes for an educational event in New York, focused on the domestic-global connections between US involvement in Iraq and the war on immigrants at home. The event will serve to educate and galvanize JFREJ members and help focus their future organizing work. http://www.jfrej.org/

Sneedville, Tennessee: $2,000
Members of the United Methodist Church formed the Jubilee Project in 1991 to assist in the empowerment of people in Hancock County, Tennessee, through enhancement of self-worth, abilities and opportunities. This grant goes for a weekend peace and justice training aimed at bringing together local working class Latino and Caucasian youth from around the Appalachian region to deal with issues of segregation, oppression and injustice in their communities. http://jubileeproject.holston.org/

Philadelphia, PA: $2,000
Media Tank, incorporated in January 2002, is an innovative nonprofit organization working to bring together media arts, education and activism to build broader awareness and support for media as a vital civic, cultural and communications resource. The grant is designated for educational and resource materials for activists, focused on the connections and conflicts of interest between the mainstream media and the war in Iraq. http://www.mediatank.org/

Medellín, Colombia: $4,000
The Muste Institute granted $2,000 from its general fund and $2,000 from our donor-directed Sheilah's Fund East to this Medellín, Colombia-based youth group for the Active Nonviolence and War Resistance International Conference in August 2003. The conference in Medellín serves as an international gathering of peace activists and nonviolence activists from abroad with activists from Colombia, sharing experiences and skills of working in an environment of violence and armed conflict.

Seattle, WA: $1,500
Since local community and labor leaders founded Washington State Jobs with Justice in 1993 as a multi-issue coalition, it has grown to include more than 100 organizations and over 6,000 individuals working for economic justice. This grant will go toward the Peace and Worker Organizing During Time of War program, mobilizing labor, community and religious organizations in united nonviolent action to defend civil rights, labor rights and peace. http://wsjwj.org/home/home_default.asp

The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute makes small grants to groups doing nonviolent organizing for social change. Our next deadline for proposals is October 10, 2003. To read our grant guidelines, click here.

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Board of Directors
Karl Bissinger
Susan Kent Cakars
Christine Halvorson
Carol Kalafatic
Bernice Lanning
Rebecca Libed
Elmer Maas
David McReynolds
Robert T. Taylor
Martha Thomases
John Zirinsky

Executive Director
Murray Rosenblith

Program Associate
Jane Guskin

Administrative Assistant
Jeanne Strole

Salvador Suazo

Newsletter Designer
Judith Rew

A.J. Muste Memorial Institute

339 Lafayette Street, New York, New York 10012, (212) 533-4335 fax: (212) 228-6193