Collecting area: Social justice Page 10 of 11
Sommer, Mark

Mark Sommer Papers

1966-2017
21 boxes 32 linear feet
Call no.: MS 973

Mark Sommer, with Zetta, the first newborn goat at the Sommer homestead in northern CA, May 1985

Mark Sommer is an explorer, storyteller, and award-winning public radio and print journalist focused on advocacy and narratives of social, political, and environmental change and positive action. In Washington, D.C., Sommer found himself on hand for some of the 1960s pivotal moments, where he was involved with the Liberation News Service and the New Left think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies. Sommer moved to California in 1969 to explore the counterculture, spending several years journeying – spiritually, psychedelically, and physically between communes, farms, and wilderness homesteads along the western coast – before he and his wife built a self-reliant organic homestead in the deep woods of northern CA, where they lived from the 1970s to the 1990s. The resilience of nature deeply impacted Sommer’s outlook and work as a writer and journalist, driving his interest in the human capacity for overcoming adversity. Sommer founded and directed the Mainstream Media Project, a nonprofit media placement service scheduling leading edge thinkers and social innovators for extensive radio interviews, and Sommer served as host and executive producer of the internationally syndicated and award winning, one-hour weekly radio program, A World of Possibilities. Sommer is the author of three books (Beyond the Bomb, The Conquest of War, and Living in Freedom), and hundreds of op-eds in major newspapers worldwide. Current projects include short and movie length videos crafted from his photographs, films, interviews, and experiences.

Chronicling over five decades of creative and journalistic output of a life-long explorer and progressive advocate, the Mark Sommer Papers are an extensive collection, covering Sommer’s entire career and personal life from the late 1960s to the present. Writings include personal and multiple travel journals (including a unique trip to North Vietnam in 1968), correspondence, student essays, op-eds, articles, project and grant plans, memoirs, and book manuscripts. Additional journals exist in audio format, along with radio interviews where Sommer served as a guest. Slides, photographs, and movies cover Sommer’s family and home life to his wide-ranging travels and interests. Some main topics of coverage include foreign policy and international politics, progressivism, peace and conflict studies, the anti-nuclear and disarmament movements, wilderness and back-to-the-land experiences, and later in life fatherhood. Materials from Mainstream Media Project have been separated into the Mainstream Media Project Records.

Gift of Mark Sommer, May 2017

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movement
  • Counterculture--United States
  • Institute for Policy Studies
  • Journalists--California
  • Nuclear disarmament
  • Peace--research
  • Peaceful change (International relations)
  • Political activists
  • Reconciliation
  • Self-reliant living--California
  • Sustainable living
  • Travel writing
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Types of material

  • Articles
  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Memoirs
  • Photographs
  • Sound recordings
  • Video recordings
Stack, Jonathan

Jonathan Stack Collection

1992-2000
36 boxes, films 65 linear feet
Call no.: MS 969

A renowned independent film maker and founder of Gabriel Films, Jonathan Stack has written and produced over two dozen documentary films and fifty television programs. Born in New York City in 1957, Stack graduated from UMass Amherst in 1979. From the time of his film Damned in the USA (1992), Stack has taken on challenging subjects, earning a reputation for gaining access into forbidden and often dangerous situations, from crack dens in Harlem to war-torn Liberia. The recipient of numerous honors in his career, Stack has been awarded five Emmy Awards, has twice been nominated for the Academy Award, and his film The Farm, on Angola Prison, won Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize in 1998.

The films and videos in the Stack collection include copies of his work in Liberia and Haiti and material from his documentary on prison rodeos at Angola Prison. The collection includes film from Damned in the USA (1992), Final Judgment (1996), and The Farm (1998), as well as footage from Harlem, Angola Prison, St. Gabriel Women’s Prison, and on body piercing, rodeo, and the prisoner Vincent Simmons.

Subjects

  • Documentary films
  • Louisiana State Penitentiary
  • Motion picture producers and directors

Types of material

  • Videotapes
Steindl-Rast, David

Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers

ca. 1928-2015
60 boxes 75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 892
Image of Brother David at Mount Savior Monastery, ca. 1956
Brother David at Mount Savior Monastery, ca. 1956

Brother David Steindl-Rast was born Franz Kuno in Vienna, Austria, in 1926. He discovered The Rule of St. Benedict as a young man, which sent him on a search for an authentic version of Benedictine practice. This search brought him through the Second World War in Vienna, where he earned a Ph.D from the University of Vienna in 1952 and to the Mount Savior Monastery in Elmira, New York, where he became a monk in 1953. Along with his friend Thomas Merton, Brother David is one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, leaving Mount Savior in the mid-1960s to study Zen Buddhism with Hakuun Yajutami, Shunayu Suzuki, and Soen Nakagawa. He was the first Benedictine to learn directly from Buddhist teachers and received Vatican support for his bridge-building work in 1967. Through Merton, Brother David met Thich Nhat Hanh, who introduced him to the peace movement and grounded Brother David’s spirituality in a tradition of activism. When not in seclusion, Brother David has served as a teacher of contemplative prayer, the intersection of Zen and Catholicism, and gratefulness as a spiritual practice. Through many books and articles, lectures, and residencies in spiritual centers like Tassajara and the Esalen Institute, Brother David has developed an influential philosophy and much of the current popularity of mindfulness and Zen-influenced living and activism owes a debt to his teachings.

The Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers include Brother David’s extensive published and unpublished writings, sermons, memoirs, personal journals, correspondence, photographs, recordings, and videos of his teachings. His papers extend back to his youth in Vienna, documenting his childhood and experience during the war, including a complete run of Die Goldene Wagen, the children’s magazine published by Brother David’s mother Elisabeth Rast.

Subjects

  • Benedictines--United States
  • Buddhism--Relations
  • Christianity--Relations
  • Peace movements--United States
  • Peace--Religious aspects
  • Spiritual life--Buddhism
  • Spiritual life--Catholic church

Contributors

  • Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968
  • Steindl-Rast, David

Types of material

  • Photographs
Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts

Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts Intiative Collection

1988-1989
1 folder 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 321

The Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts (TEAM) was formed in 1987 as a coalition of tax reformers made up government groups, civic and business leaders, human services advocates, unions, and others who shared the conviction that fair taxation and quality services must go hand-in-hand and who opposed extreme tax reduction for the dire impact it would have on state budgets and support for state programs.

This small collection contains a copy of “Talking Tax,” a publication of the Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts, along with brochures for their volunteers and for the public.

Gift of Ken Fones-Wolf, 1990

Subjects

  • Taxation--Massachusetts
Thrasher, Sue

Sue Thrasher Poster Collection

ca.1975-2010
50 posters, 1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 861

The activist, writer, and educator, Sue Thrasher became involved in the civil rights movement while a student at Scarritt College in 1961. A native of rural West Tennessee, Thrasher was drawn to the local chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee shortly after arriving on campus, and in 1964, she helped found the Southern Students Organizing Committee, serving as its first executive director and taking part in the “white folks project” during Mississippi Summer. As a stalwart of the freedom movement and its historian, she joined the staff at the Highlander Center in 1978, helping to organize their archives and conducting oral histories. After more than twenty years of social activism in the South, Thrasher came to UMass Amherst to earn a doctorate in Educational Policy and Research, and from 1997 until her retirement in 2013, she worked as Partnership Coordinator at Five Colleges Incorporated, linking faculty with public school districts in western Massachusetts. Among her several works on the civil rights movement is the collaborative volume Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (2000).

A visual record of Sue Thrasher’s involvement in movements for social justice, the collection includes dozens of posters reflecting international liberation movements (Mozambique, Palestine, Central America), Cuba, the antiwar movement, campaigns for literacy in Nicaragua, the International Council on Adult Education (Chile and Bangladesh), and activities at the Highlander Center (benefit concerts by Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Sweet Honey in the Rock). The collection also includes two Nicaraguan masks collected by Thrasher.

Types of material

  • Masks
  • Posters
Towle, Gifford H.

Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers

1970-1987 Bulk: 1945-1980
24 boxes 33 linear feet
Call no.: MS 881
Image of Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957
Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957

As a student at Mount Hermon School in the late 1920s, Gifford Hoag Towle met Marjorie Ripley Blossom, a young woman at the Northfield School for Girls. When Giff went on to the Massachusetts Agricultural College (BS 1932) and Marjorie to a midwestern Bible College for a year (before being called home due to a family crisis), they remained connected and after Giff’s graduation in 1932, they married. By the time that Giff graduated from Hartford Seminary, he had left his Quaker upbringing to enter the Congregationalist ministry, and he and Marjorie filled three pulpits near Pelham, Mass. In 1939, however, they were called by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to serve as missionaries in the American Marathi Mission in Maharashtra State, central India. Following two years of intensive study of the Marathi language in Ahmednagar, they settled in Vadala, a rural village on the semi-arid plains, where they worked for thirty-four years, counting furloughs. In 1946 on furlough in the U.S., Giff earned a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Cornell while pastoring a small church in the suburbs of Ithaca. In his agricultural work in India, Giff used the mission farm to demonstrate crop diversity and farm animal improvement; created co-operatives to enable poor farmers to use appropriate modern tools and machinery for pennies; taught good irrigation and soil conservation; and later built a Mechanical Unit and trained local Indians as mechanics to repair machinery and drill wells. Giff also invented a pump for which he never filed a patent, wanting instead to make it as widely available as possible. He built networks with relatives, churches, and non-profits to fund these efforts and get supplies.

The Towle Collection contains a wealth of information for research in three distinct areas: missions and religious matters; agriculture in “developing” countries; and the cultural and socio-economic context of social change in rural India. The Towles’ voluminous correspondence and reports offer a particularly rich view into mission life in India, including American participation through churches, relations between Hindus and Christians or between Christians, and the viability of these efforts. Marjorie’s letters are particularly vivid, adding significantly to our understanding of mission lives and experiences. The collection is equally rich in revealing the impact of the Towles’ agricultural work and for study of the efficacy of government agencies and non-profits seeking to understand cross-cultural issues.

Gift of Jean Reed, 2015

Subjects

  • Agriculture--India
  • India--Description and travel
  • Maharasthra (India)--Economic conditions
  • Missionaries--India

Contributors

  • Towle, Marjorie Blossom, 1907-1994

Types of material

  • Photographs
University Anti-Intervention, Disarmament & Conversion Project

University Anti-Intervention, Disarmament and Conversion Project Resource Guide

1989
1 envelope 0.2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 280 bd

Founded in September 1989, the University Anti-Intervention, Disarmament & Conversion Project was developed by individuals in the UMass Amherst community who wanted to eliminate the university’s dependence on defense research. The purpose of the project was to serve as a resource center for students, faculty, and community activists working to break the link between the nation’s institutions of higher learning and the military industrial complex.

The collection consists of a resource guide created by the group.

Subjects

  • Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
Unzicker, Rae

Rae Unzicker Papers

1979-1997
1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 818
Image of Rae Unzicker
Rae Unzicker

Rae Unzicker’s exposure to the psychiatric system began at a young age. Growing up in an abusive home, her parents sent her to psychiatrists off and on for years before she was involuntarily committed. While there, she was quickly introduced to the chaotic and damaging atmosphere of a psychiatric institution, exposing her to mandatory drugs, seclusion rooms, forced feeding, and work “therapy” that required her to wash dishes six hours a day. Once she was release, Unzicker’s road to recovery was long, but after several suicide attempts and stays at other treatment facilities, she ultimately counted herself–along with her friend Judi Chamberlin, an early leader in the movement–a psychiatric survivor. Like Chamberlin, Unzicker embraced her role as an advocate of patient’s rights and for the radical transformation of the mental-health system. In 1995, President Clinton appointed her to the National Council on Disability; two years later she was elected president of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). Unzicker was widely known for her public appearances, conferences and speeches, and her writings, including numerous articles and contributions to the book Beyond Bedlam: Contemporary Women Psychiatric Survivors Speak Out. A survivor of cancer of the jaw and breast, Rae Unzicker died at her home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on March 22, 2001 at the age of 52.

Although a small collection, Rae Unzicker’s papers document her activities as a leading advocate for the rights of mental health patients, including transcripts of speeches and videotaped appearances, correspondence and feedback related to workshops and conferences, press kits, and newspaper clippings. The most important materials, however, are her writings. It is through her poems and her full-length memoir, You Never Gave Me M & M’s, that Unzicker’s story and voice are preserved.

Subjects

  • Antipsychiatry
  • Ex-mental patients
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
  • Psychiatric survivors movement

Contributors

  • Unzicker, Rae

Types of material

  • Memoirs
  • Videotapes
Vega, Carlos

Carlos Vega Collection

ca.1966-1995
148 volumes, 1 box, 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 800
Image of Carlos Vega ca. 1990
Carlos Vega ca. 1990

An Ecuadorian-born community activist, Carlos Vega moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his family in 1955. Settling in the working-class “Flats” neighborhood at a time when many of Holyoke’s factories were relocating to the southern United States or Asia, the Vegas were one of the few Spanish-speaking families in the city, but when Carlos began to work on a local tobacco farm at the age of 14, he encountered the new influx of migrants from Puerto Rico who had been lured to the Connecticut Valley as agricultural laborers by the Department of Labor. With the Puerto Rican economy declining in the 1960s, many of these farm workers settled permanently in Springfield and Holyoke, but they soon discovered that the declining economy there combined with racism and urban decay blocked their hopes for upward mobility. Radicalized by the anti-colonial, anti-war, and Civil Rights movements of the late 1960s, Vega emerged as an important community organizer in the 1970s, working with Fair Share, New Unity, Urban Ministry, and other progressive organizations. With a backdrop of riots, arson, and racial tension, these organizations focused on issues relevant to the Puerto Rican community, particularly voter education and registration, fair housing, and education. In 1982, Vega helped found Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit community development organization whose mission was to restore and maintain blighted buildings in South Holyoke. He worked with Nueva Esperanza for over 30 years, continuing until 2010 after a brain cancer diagnosis in 1995.  He survived until April 2012.

The materials in this collection reflect Vega’s interests in left wing movements in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa from the 1960s through 1980s and include leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newsletters. The approximately 300 items offer sometimes scarce documentation of internationalist liberation movements such as the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, and the EFLNA in Eritrea. Of particular note is a small collection documenting Vega’s participation in the 1974 Venceremos Brigade and a collection of clippings, newsletters, notes, fliers, conference material, and newspapers from various groups such as New England Action Research, Friends of the Filipino People, The Latin American Student Association, and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Some printed materials are cataloged and housed with the rare books collection.

Gift of Jesse Vega-Fry, Apr. 2012

Subjects

  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • Civil Rights movements--Africa
  • Civil Rights movements--Central America
  • Civil Rights movements--Chile
  • Civil Rights movements--United States
  • Civil Rights movements-Asia
  • Civil Rights movements-Caribbean
  • Latin America--Periodicals
  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990
  • Radicalism--United States
  • Revolutionary literature
  • Socialism
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • Venceremos Brigade
Weinberg, Meyer, 1920-2002

Meyer Weinberg Papers

1947-1992
26 boxes 39 linear feet
Call no.: FS 177

Born in New York City in 1920 on the day his Russian immigrant parents first set foot in the United States, Meyer Weinberg was a political radical, civil rights activist, and a distinguished scholar of desegregation in education. Working his way through the University of Chicago, receiving both a BA (1942) and MA (1945), Weinberg began his career at Wright Junior College, where he harnessed his zeal for social justice to the problem of integration in Chicago’s schools. Active in the civil rights movement, he became a key figure in providing data for desegregation efforts nationally, serving as Chair of the Education Committee of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) from 1963 to 1967, and as an expert witness in numerous desegregation cases. After moving to City College in Chicago (1971) and then Northwestern (1972-1978), he accepted a faculty appointment at UMass Amherst in the School of Education (and later in Afro-American Studies), also working as Director of the Horace Mann Bond Center for Equal Education (1978-1992). Weinberg’s eighteenth book, A Short History of American Capitalism, appeared just before his death on Feb. 28, 2002.

A large and varied collection, the Weinberg Papers document both the academic and political commitments of Meyer Weinberg from the late 1940s until his retirement from UMass. The focus throughout is his interest in school desegregation, particularly in his native Chicago, but the collection extends to other areas in civil rights activism.

Subjects

  • African Americans--Education
  • Chicago (Ill.)--History
  • Segregation in education