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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
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.