Robert Meeropol





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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

For Love and Liberty

August 6, 2014

Tags: Tom Manning

A collection of photographs of Tom Manning’s paintings was released last week. I was eager to see the finished product. I have a remarkably multi-faceted relationship with Tom Manning, given that we’ve never met.

Tom was one of the Ohio Seven (one single person and three married couples, each with three children), charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government. The trial took place in my then-hometown of Springfield, MA during 1988 and 1989. I became peripherally involved in their defense and saw him in court from time to time, but we never spoke.

The fate of the defendants’ nine children gnawed at me. I was most disturbed that Tom’s three children, aged three, five, and 11 at the time of his arrest, were confined and held in isolation from all family members for several weeks while the eldest was repeatedly interrogated. I was shocked to learn this. Bad as my childhood had been after my parents’ arrest, I had never been confined or interrogated. The treatment of the Ohio Seven children is what inspired me to start the Rosenberg Fund for Children, and two of Tom’s children became its first beneficiaries.

Since then, Tom and I have exchanged a few letters. I shared my memoir with him in 2003 and he reciprocated by sending me two of his oil paintings. They hung on my RFC office wall for over a decade. My favorite was of Cassandra Wilson. She stared out at me as she turned away from her piano with the sheet music of Strange Fruit, which she introduced to a new generation in 1990’s, in the background. Now a photograph of that painting, and some 80 others, fill this beautiful book.

The photographer, Penny Schoner, contacted me in late 2012 and asked if I’d write the preface for the collection. I was honored, but put her off until after I retired as the RFC Executive Director; it was the first project I completed after my daughter, Jenn, took over as Executive Director last September. My opening lines were, “I’m overwhelmed by the talent, indomitable will, and purity of heart displayed here. To say that I am awed by this book does not do it justice.”

Tom Manning helped begin and end my RFC leadership. He closes his autobiographical essay in the book with this quote “The revolution is never begun anew, only continued where others left off…”

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415.863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org

Tom Manning is a freedom fighter, political prisoner and prolific artist. His paintings are stories that jump off the page, revealing the outlook of people who struggle for liberation around the world. His paintings are about life and his landscapes recall times of importance. Tom is currently incarcerated at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina as a result of revolutionary actions undertaken while a member of the United Freedom Front. You can read more about the book and purchase a copy at https://co.clickandpledge.com/advanced/default.aspx?wid=33028

Selected Works

Memoir
"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Publisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
–Joyce Carol Oates

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