Investing in the future . . .
In 1971 the Fund made a small grant to Paul Schachter. Paul came to us from the civil rights and anti-war movements and was finishing law school at Rutgers. Although the support of our former grantees is one reason the Fund has flourished, Paul’s contribution is unrivaled. He has been an active Trustee for twenty years and, for more than a decade, he volunteered as our treasurer. But his political work has not been limited to the Fund. Paul’s legal work has included securing an injunction to prevent an Ohio steel company from dismantling a plant so the workers could buy the facility, stopping New York construction unions from preventing African-American workers from entering construction sites to apply for jobs, establishing the right of permanent immigrants to hold union office, protecting the rights of whistleblowers in New Jersey, and numerous other cases that strengthened the rights of working people. Our grant to a young law student more than thirty years ago was an investment that has paid enormous dividends — to the Fund and to the progressive movement. This year’s grantees will return dividends for peace and justice in the future. After graduating, he was an organizer for the National Lawyers Guild and the coordinator for the Puerto Rican Labor Law Project. Upon his return to the New York area, Paul worked for a union and then ran the labor law clinic at Rutgers. In 1983 he and his wife, Denise Reinhardt, founded a labor and civil rights law firm and, from 2001-03, he was the Morton Stavis Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
O’Connor Scholar Marilyn Buck. A journalist and organizer for labor, civil rights and peace, Jessie Lloyd O’Connor was an early Trustee of the Fund and each year we select an outstanding student to honor her memory. The O’Connor Scholars have crossed many lines, including race and gender, and this year we went behind prison walls to choose Marilyn Buck, whose commitment to justice builds on the foundation Jessie created. As a teenager in Texas, Marilyn fought for civil rights and went on to organize against the war and for international solidarity. In 1973 she was convicted of buying two boxes of handgun ammunition and received a ten-year sentence. She served four years and, while on furlough, failed to return. She lived underground for eight years before being recaptured and convicted of several acts of conspiracy. After years of trials, she received sentences totaling eighty years. Held in the federal prison in Dublin, California, Marilyn is incarcerated with other women from independence, anti-imperialist and peace movements. With the help of the Fund, she is finishing a degree from New College of San Francisco. She continues her work for justice, issuing one of the first calls to save the life of another Davis-Putter grantee, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and is deeply involved in cultural and educational programs through tutoring and teaching. A prolific writer, her book review, “The US Prison State,” appeared in Monthly Review in February, 2004; she was awarded the 2001 PEN Prison Writing poetry prize; and a CD celebrating her art and life, Wild Poppies, was just released.
Deborah Baron has influenced national and international public policy on AIDS and is studying human rights and public health at Columbia.
Ilse Cohen continues to build reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians while a doctoral student at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Saulo Colon, a long-time anti-war and labor organizer, is enrolled in the labor studies program at the University of Massachusetts.
Monica Enriquez, an undergraduate at San Francisco State, builds peace and international solidarity through art, as a filmmaker and sculptor.
Desiree Evans, a progressive and independent journalist and leader for social and economic justice, is enrolled in a master’s program at Columbia.
Hector Flores organized for educational equity in his East LA neighborhood and against war and budget cuts at Cal State Long Beach.
Camila Gelpi-Acosta, on the front lines of the struggle to end the bombing on Vieques, develops alternative addiction treatments while attending CUNY.
Allison Guttu, an organizer for the rights of women and LGBT people of color since high school, is a law student at NYU.
Paul Karolczyk, anti-war leader and undergraduate at Central Connecticut State University, works on joint Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives.
Magda Lanuza, an international environmental justice and globalization organizer from Central America, is finishing her master’s degree at Brandeis.
Kenji Liu, a housing advocate and coalition builder, combines art with social change and attends the California Institute for Integral Studies.
Dan Lutz, an economic justice organizer as an undergraduate and on the job, has entered the labor studies program, University of Massachusetts.
Hans Meyer worked for the rights of immigrants for many years and continues while studying law at the University of Denver.
Doris Pizarro, a renowned leader in labor and solidarity movements, is working on her doctoral degree from the University of Puerto Rico.
Brian Rainey, a divinity student at Harvard, is an author who is building a queer movement against war, racism and class privilege.
Manju Rajendran, an activist and organizer for Hip Hop Against War, is finishing her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina.
Abigail Reyes will graduate from the law school at the University of California, Berkeley and continue human rights and solidarity organizing.
LaVonne Roach, a Lakota Sioux from Pine Ridge, was imprisoned by the war on drugs and takes undergraduate courses through Ohio University.
Gina Rodriquez, one of the youngest members of Rhode Islanders for Peace, works on globalization and immigration while a freshman at Brown.
Stephanie Sayo builds environmental justice coalitions in minority communities while finishing her undergraduate degree at San Jose State University.
Caleb Schultz sees his medical studies at the University of Minnesota as part of the movement for peace, human rights and social justice.
Sarah Thompson, a leader in the African American and feminist peace movements in Atlanta, is an undergraduate at Spelman College.
David Waggoner, an LGBT activist, worked against police abuse and volunteers for the National Lawyers Guild while at Golden Gate University.