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Eric Weinberger, 1932-2006
E ric Weinberger, a lifelong activist and organizer in the civil rights, anti-nuclear, and anti-war movements, died on December 15, 2006 at the Goddard House Nursing Home in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Eric was best known in Boston for his work with Food Not Bombs, an organization which provides free food to the hungry year-round in public parks.
Weinberger was born February 19, 1932 in New York City. As a teenager he performed as a magician at birthday parties, sometimes assisted by his younger brother. He began studying at the University of Chicago at the age of 15. He found the academic world suffocating, and after a year and a half, he dropped out. He traveled the country, hitchhiking and riding trains, and worked in a carnival for the next few years, until he began studying at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. In this progressive scholarly environment, he finally felt at home and concentrated on poetry, theater, and writing.
Eric became involved with the civil rights movement after his introduction to the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action, in Connecticut, where he first began his lifelong commitment to nonviolent action as a means to achieve social change. In 1962 Weinberger was instrumental in founding the Haywood Handicrafters’ League, an economic empowerment project for displaced African American women in Brownsville, Tennessee. Eric’s presence was not welcomed by law enforcement and he suffered several brutal beatings in the local jail. In 1963 Eric and nine other activists from the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) set out to complete the route of postal worker Bill Moore, who was murdered while walking from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi to deliver a letter to the governor pleading for an end to segregation. Eric and the other Freedom Walkers were arrested after crossing the Alabama border for “conduct likely to provoke a riot.” Eric refused to eat during the entire duration of his time in prison. Only 12 days after being released, Eric was arrested again at a sit-in at an Atlanta restaurant.
He was asked to give trainings in nonviolent civil disobedience to people there and became the target of increasing police repression, culminating in an arrest in which he was beaten and burned with chemicals. Weinberger was the victim of at least one bombing attempt during his time in the south. After the 1965 march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Weinberger returned north.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Eric worked as an accountant to support his family, becoming a self-taught expert in tax law. He remained active in both anti-war and anti-nuclear activism during this period, including resistance to the construction of a reactor at Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire. In the late 1980s, feeling burned out from his professional work, he retired to return to full-time activism.
In Boston Weinberger became involved with the Free Theater Collective, which collaborated with the founding chapter of Food Not Bombs, which began as a group to feed protesters at Seabrook and elsewhere. Food Not Bombs became a major part of Eric’s life for the next 18 years.
In the 1990s he participated in ACT UP and Housing Now demonstrations and every autumn he attended the National Day of Mourning, in Plymouth, Massachusetts organized by the United American Indians of New England. In 2000 Eric took part in protests against the economic colonialism of the IMF/ World Bank. The same year he was involved with Biodevastation, the first ever mobilization to counter the proponents of genetic engineering.
Eric will be remembered by many people for many things, but throughout it all he carried himself with dignity and an extreme humbleness. He devoted his entire life to working for justice, easing the hardships of others, and serving as a mentor and inspiration to many younger activists.
In the last few years of his life, Eric experienced the gradual degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s disease and was cared for by friends. He was aware of the disease taking effect, but held on to his sense of humor for as long as he could, sometimes laughing at the absurd statements that would come out unexpectedly. He passed away in his sleep at the age of 74.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 PM on Saturday, February 10, 2007, at the Community Church of Boston. All are welcome.
Eds.: Eric Weinberger was the (free) consulting accountant when we founded South End Press in 1987/1988. We have always been grateful for his help (SEP turns 30 this year).
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.