Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Her Grandparents' Legacy

An article in last week's Boston Globe about Rachel Meeropol, daughter of MVFHR board member Robert Meeropol, is headlined "The Legacy: The execution of Rachel Meeropol's grandparents in 1953 resonates in her work as a lawyer today." Here's an excerpt:

Her last year at New York University law school, Rachel Meeropol spent a semester working at a legal clinic in Alabama that represented prisoners on death row. Her client, she says, was typical: poor black man, borderline retarded, convicted of killing a white woman, represented by incompetent trial counsel. With Meeropol's help, the inmate is now serving a life sentence without parole.

"Given my background, it's not surprising I would be anti-death penalty," she says. "When the state executes anyone, it's simply perpetrating another crime. It doesn't create any justice. I think what happened to my grandparents is criminal."

Meeropol is the youngest grandchild of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were executed in 1953 for conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union. Rachel's father, Robert, was 6 when his parents went to the electric chair at Sing Sing prison, becoming the first US civilians to be executed in a spy case.

And another excerpt:

Rachel and her sister Jennifer were brought up in a liberal household in Springfield, where as youngsters they accompanied their parents to political demonstrations. Their father runs the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which helps children whose parents have been persecuted for their activism. Jennifer, who wrote her senior thesis at Harvard on Ethel Rosenberg, works for the foundation; Rachel is on the board.

"It's something that's important to the whole family," Rachel says. "I think what my father does is amazing. He's taken the legacy of what happened to his parents and turned it around. He calls it his form of constructive revenge." Her mother, Elli, is a nurse who writes fiction, often about the intersection of politics and family life.

Their daughter attributes her own politics to both her grandparents' legacy and her parents' example. "I think you can say my passion for social justice grew out of a profound sense of injustice," she says.

Read the full article here

No comments: