Annette T. Rubinstein: Author, Educator, Activist
by Gerald Meyer
Annette T. Rubinstein -- an author, educator, and political leader whose work spans an arc of seventy-five years is one of the most remarkable figures of the American Left. Her intellectual production is monumental. She has authored or edited five books and approximately 200 articles and reviews -- 21 from Mainstream, 20 from Monthly Review, 40 from Jewish Currents, 48 from Science & Society, and others from publications as diverse as the weekly National Guardian and the annual Sinn und Forme. She is also the author of a number of pamphlets that were widely circulated -- including "The Black Panther Party and the Case of the New York 21" and "Suicide on Rikers Island: A Call for Help," as well as countless smaller articles and published letters. In tandem with her writing, from coast to coast and literally around the world, she has presented some thousands of lectures. She is an educator: a high school principal banished by McCarthyism, and master teacher in the popular academies of the Left -- the School for Democracy, the Jefferson School of Social Science, and since its founding in 1975 until today the Brecht Forum. She is also a consummate editor who has provided expertise and leadership to Science & Society and Jewish Currents (former Jewish Life), and, until its demise in the early sixties, Mainstream.
Annette's intellectual work has contributed to a wide range of subjects, such as, the struggle against racism and the democratizing of education; however, it is primarily devoted to literature, which was the subject of her teaching in high school, in universities, and in left institutions. Her two-volume The Great Tradition in English Literature: From Shakespeare to Shaw and its companion, the two-volume American Literature Root and Flower: Significant Poets, Novelists, and Dramatists, 1775-1955 have earned her an international reputation. In brief, Annette's approach to literature seeks to uncover the humanistic essence of the great novelists and poets; it applies an understanding of political economy and societal development, informed by Marxism, so that literature provides a means to learn about, and therefore potentially to change, these realities.
In fact, all of Annette's intellectual work has been organically connected to political activism. She worked in the Unemployed Councils during the Great Depression and later in a score of other organizations dedicated to defend and advance the interests of those excluded from the American Dream. Undoubtedly, her most important political work evolved around her leading role in the American Labor Party (ALP) and her close association with its leader, Congressman Vito Marcantonio. She twice ran for public office on the ALP line and in 1958 ran as the Independent Socialist Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor. In addition, she has taken part as a leader and mentor, in movements and organizations, that under political climates ranging from extremely hostile to welcoming have demonstrated the ability of the Left to meaningfully impact on a wide range of issues.
Annette Rubinstein's ability to influence countless numbers from every generation and to continue her work under all circumstances, including political repression and advanced age, in combination with her decent and caring approach to individuals, stands as a model for those who themselves have questioned what it can mean to live a good and productive life within the often vilified and marginalized American Left. Lastly, Annette's life as a Left intellectual-activist belies the stereotypical image that leftism involves a rupture from one's own background. For Annette, her life as a member of the American Left has brought her closer to her family and friends and to her own background, while simultaneously bringing her into contact with people of every generation from an infinitude of cultures. For thousands, she represents a model and an ideal.
Annette, the oldest of four children of Abraham Rubinstein and Jenny (Jean) Shapiro, was born on April 12, 1910 in New York City. Abraham's parents had emigrated from Bialystok, which is located in present day Poland, where they had been prosperous merchants. While achieving academic distinction in City College, Abraham supported himself by operating a newsstand. His success at this small venture later translated into major entrepreneurial achievements. He joined his business experience with a far-ranging intelligence to create the first evening preparatory school in Manhattan, the Manhattan Preparatory School, which was later supplemented by an extension named the Rhodes School. This educational enterprise and subsequent business ventures enabled Abraham to provide his family with a high standard of living; however, the Rubinsteins never lost their interest in the vision of a humane society organized along socialist lines.
Jenny Shapiro had arrived in New York City at the age of four from London, where her mother had had to temporarily interrupt the family's journey from Rumania to the United States in order to earn enough for the cost of the steerage trip. Despite her father's death, Jenny was able by age nineteen to graduate from Normal School (which combined high school with teacher training). She was a brilliant and charismatic teacher. Aside from teaching public school, in 1908, Jennie helped organize a Socialist Sunday school for the Arbeiter Ring (the Workman's Circle), a socialist fraternal society dedicated to perpetuating the Yiddish language and Jewish secular culture. After her marriage, she began working at the Manhattan Preparatory School where she became the master teacher who not only excelled at her specialties, such as English, but even Algebra, although she had no formal education in advanced mathematics.
In 1919, when Annette was nine years old, the Rubinstein family -- which now included Irwin, Ruth-Jean (as she preferred to write her name), and Leo -- moved to Woodmere Long Island. Abraham had wedded a brilliant business sense to his extensive knowledge of both law and engineering to create successful businesses in a number of areas; however, this extraordinary combination of talents proved no match for the impending Great Depression. One by one, his enterprises came crashing down. Almost at once, all the trappings of affluence disappeared, the family moved to much more modest housing in the much more modest town of Cedarhurst. By 1932, the Rubinsteins had returned to its starting point, New York City.
Despite its blatant Jewish quota, Barnard College accepted the fifteen-year-old Annette. When she appeared on orientation day, however, she was informed that there had been a mistake in calculating the quota and she could not enter. That same day, she enrolled in New York University where she majored in Philosophy and minored in English. After graduating from NYU in 1929, she was accepted into Columbia University's doctoral program from which, after having completed a dissertation entitled "Realist Ethics" (which she dedicated to "My First Teacher: JR"), she graduated in 1934, at the age of twenty-three.
Faculty appointments in philosophy were extremely rare during the Great Depression, but when she completed her doctorate, Dr. Rubinstein was offered a position teaching philosophy at Bryn Marr on condition that she would Anglicize her name to something like Redstone. She refused to do that. Although she obtained a temporary appointment in NYU's Philosophy Department, a new department chair preferred to appoint an old friend to the permanent position.
Annette then secured a job as a caseworker for the newly organized Home Relief Bureau. Her caseload consisted of 360 working class Southern Italian and lower middle class Jewish families who lived in the East New York district of Brooklyn. Many of the Italian American families lived in small houses with adjoining gardens. They had been accustomed to harsh conditions both in Italy and here in America and seemed to cope fairly well. The Jewish families lived in small apartment buildings and the fathers were deeply ashamed of being unemployed. Consequently, during her first year on the job, three breadwinners from the Jewish families on her caseload committed suicide. She recalls how men would look for work until late afternoon and then, when there was no place more to look, would sit in a nearby park until nightfall when they felt they could guiltlessly return home. These wrenching experiences convinced Annette to join in the efforts of the Communists to organize the caseworkers into a union and to inform the clients about their legal rights to a modicum of food, clothing, and shelter.
In 1934, Annette began to serve as principal of the Robert Louis Stevenson School, a private institution, located on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Due to the Great Depression, the school had experienced a drastic decrease in enrollment; indeed, there were fewer than thirty prospective students enrolled in the high school for the fall term. Annette's father insisted that, despite its massive debts and overdue mortgage, Annette use her savings to purchase (for less than one thousand dollars) the near-moribund school. Through contacts she had made by giving lectures and through her work as director of a children's summer camp, Annette was able to enroll an additional thirty students, thereby doubling overnight the school's enrollment. Among a whole range of educational innovations, she introduced a course teaching the Latin derivatives of English words and a Geometry course (for Math-shy girls) taught as a branch of logic. Dr. Rubinstein herself taught all the high school English courses with outstanding Regents' results.
Annette ascribes the origins of the Rubinstein's close-knit family culture to the total absence of sexism in her parents' child rearing. The boys had no additional rights because they were boys and the expectations for all the children were the same. The only differences in privileges among the four children were based on age. Perhaps, the ability of the family to also function as an economic unit was based on Abraham's decision to add the children's names to the family bank account when they reached sixteen year's of age.
In 1929, Annette had read Das Capital, and became convinced that Karl Marx's concept of surplus value -- a hypothesis positing that capitalism necessarily involved a process which denied the workers their full share of their product -- best explained the Great Depression, where extreme want existed amidst the capability to produce plenty. In an essay, "The Cultural World of the Communist Party," published in 1993, Annette explained that: "[In the Party] one always felt him or herself to be a functioning part of something great and potentially powerful .... The feeling that most Communist party members had [was that] history sat down with us .... We all felt part of a coherent whole. There was never the sense of fragmentation, of isolation and futility ...." She further noted that the activity generated by the Party created a type of "exhilaration" that was reinforced by frequent, small victories. She also cited the strong emotional bond created by the shared danger of committing to an organization that so insistently and continuously challenged powerful interests. All this reinforced her basic conviction that Marx's analysis of capitalism identified the root cause of the many social evils she saw all about her. When in 1939 Annette joined the Communist Party, her mother joined with her explaining that if her children were ever compelled to go underground she wanted to go with them.
Even in her own neighborhood, Annette witnessed appalling conditions -- what is now Riverside Drive was lined with a seemingly endless Hooverville and teachers would wander into the school seeking work in exchange for dinner money. She participated in the Unemployed Councils, which united the victims of this calamity to resist evictions and, when necessary, to carry furniture back into the apartments of families who had been evicted, as well as to pressure, through demonstrations and advocacy the Welfare Bureau, to provide adequate relief for the destitute. Simultaneously, Annette Rubinstein worked as the Chair of the Upper West Side Chapter of the popular American League against War and Fascism under whose aegis she gave countless talks. Annette was also drawn into support work on behalf of the beleaguered Spanish Republic.
Her most continuous and consequential political involvement, however, started in 1939, when she began her work with the American Labor Party, which averaged approximately 15 percent of New York City's vote from its founding in 1936 until after the defeat in 1950 of its leader, Vito Marcantonio, the seven-term Congressman from East Harlem. In 1940, she became the ALP's leader in the Fifth Assembly District South, an area on the Upper West Side of Manhattan from 59th to 96th, Street, whose club, which boasted 450 members, became one of the largest in the City. On average, this club helped the ALP garner approximately 10 percent of the district's total vote, and in 1948 it succeeded in attracting almost 15 percent of the vote for Henry Wallace's presidential candidacy, who in New York State ran on the ALP line. These were very impressive figures in what was a largely middle class area. In contrast with the clubs of the two major parties, day after day the Fifth Assembly District South ALP club (as was customary for ALP clubs) provided services for tenants, fought evictions, and combated instances of discrimination. The ALP club also served as a type of community and social center, that among other things sponsored a monthly lecture forum dealing with current events, books and plays.
Dr. Rubinstein tied her activism to her scholarly work by teaching a course in Public Speaking for Trade Unionists as well as courses on cultural subjects such as "Political Themes in Shakespeare" in a Party-sponsored institution, the School for Democracy. In 1941, she joined the faculty of its spectacularly successful successor, the Jefferson School, where she taught various literature classes, chaired the school's Cultural Department, secured speakers, and organized classes.
During World War II, in addition to her work as school principal and as chair of the ALP club, Ms. Rubinstein became Executive Secretary of the Mayor's Committee for the Care of Young Children in Wartime. In this capacity, she helped establish day care nurseries, which were subsidized by the state and city so that mothers could participate in the war effort. After the war, she organized and chaired the West Side Child Care Council, which was composed of eleven of the area's parent-teacher associations, temple sisterhoods, church and civic groups.
In the post-war period, she took an increasingly large part in Marcantonio's election campaigns. Among other tasks, she coordinated the sound trucks for the streetcorner rallies that constituted the major means for Marcantonio to reach his constituents. During this period, politically and personally, Annette and Marcantonio's became close friends.
In the midst of the growing Cold War domestic repression of the Left, Annette boldly stepped out onto the public stage. In January 1949, in a special election to replace the incumbent State Assemblyperson from the Upper West Side who had resigned to accept a judicial appointment, she ran as the ALP candidate. Although the commercial press largely blacked out Annette's statements, Betty Friedan, in an article in the National Guardian reporting on this campaign, characterized Annette as "one of America's leading progressive educators." Her campaign literature demanded: "Peace Not War"; "Price Controls Not Thought Control"; "Education Not Discrimination"; and "Money for Housing Not for War." Annette obtained 17 percent of the vote, which was higher than the percentages of the votes in her district obtained by Wallace in 1948 (14.4 percent) or by Marcantonio in 1949 when he ran as the ALP's mayoral candidate (10.5).
In the fall of 1949, the sudden death of Sol Bloom, who had long represented the Twentieth Congressional District, which extended along Manhattan's west side from 26thto 114th Street, necessitated yet another special election. Annette, running as the ALP candidate, faced Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr., who was running on the Liberal Party line, as well as the much less well known Democratic and Republican party candidates. The race attracted national attention and was publicized in the centerfold story of Life Magazine. Marcantonio, who spoke at streetcorner rallies that attracted enormous crowds, said, all too optimistically: "I am certain that the people of the Twentieth Congressional District will reject this small son of a great father." Stressing opposition to the Cold War, Rubinstein's campaign literature pointedly promised that she would fight for "a return of the Roosevelt policy of peaceful collaboration with the Soviet Union." Before large audiences, Annette more than held her own in debates with FDR, Jr. ALP activists from the district and throughout the City canvassed voters and distributed 125,000 leaflets. Henry Wallace came into the District to campaign for her. Nonetheless, when the votes were counted, she obtained a scant 6.5 percent. The sheer magic of her opponent's name was the major, but not the sole, reason for this disappointing result. In addition, McCarthyism was daily gaining in strength. In the weekend before the Election Day, there were four major incidents of violence against the ALP's campaigners. On Friday evening, an ALP meeting at Columbus Avenue and lO7th Street was attacked, signs were ripped off a sound truck, and onlookers were roughed up. On Saturday afternoon, hostile bystanders attacked and injured several of the participants in a youth and veterans' parade that was marching up Columbus Avenue in support of Rubinstein's candidacy. That evening, hoodlums broke up an ALP meeting at the corner of Broadway and 107th Street, at which Howard Fast served as the master of ceremonies. On Sunday, a crowd of thugs barricaded several ALP canvassers in a house on Columbus Avenue. Money also played a large role in the election's results. According to the Democratic Party candidate, Benjamin Shalleck, the young Roosevelt had spent close to $350,000 on his campaign, a truly unprecedented amount for a Congressional campaign.
An unanticipated, albeit predictable, outcome of Annette's running for public office on the ALP line was that it attracted the attention of the growing repressive apparatus determined to eradicate any and all vestiges of the Left's influence. Robert Louis Stevenson had flourished in the post-war period. In 1942, the school had already moved to larger quarters. Six hundred Puerto Rican GI's, who used their GI Rights educational benefits to take advantage of the school's three-session adult education program, enrolled in the school's evening classes (in some cases, taught by blacklisted public school teachers). Annette hired a Spanish-speaking teacher who worked intensively with them so that they could effectively function in the conventional curriculum. In what in itself constituted a remarkable accomplishment, Annette and the school's staff had implemented an array of interventions -- special courses, mimeographed class materials, film programs -- to meet the language and other special needs of these students. Also, the five-hour English as a Second Language sessions were broken up into oral, reading, and writing sections taught in different class rooms utilizing different kinds of materials. Ultimately, in June 1952, when the State threatened to withdraw the school's Charter if Annette did not resign as principal, Annette agreed to resign. Accompanying her forced departure were twelve other blacklisted teachers, including her sixty-seven-year-old mother. In addition to her being banned from teaching, publishers refused to hire her to edit school texts since her byline would cause their books to be rejected by the Board of Education. She did find temporary employment writing the texts for some of the Classic Comics series, which the publisher terminated for fear of a potential backlash.
McCarthyism not only denied Annette Rubinstein employment, it also destroyed the largest arena for her political work, the American Labor Party. She (along with her mother) felt compelled in 1952 to resign from the Communist Party, because of their disagreement with the Party's position on the ALP. The Party believed that the political repression presaged full-fledged fascism in the United States, which logically necessitated going underground and therefore the dismantling the Left's political infrastructure, including the ALP. Others, and most prominently Marcantonio and the editors of theNational Guardian, argued that this was an overreaction, which constituted a self-fulfilling and self-defeating strategy. Annette and her mother sided with Marcantonio and his allies. Until its demise in 1956, Annette served as a member of the State Executive Committee of the nearly moribund ALP.
The extent of this period's political repression that Annette experienced can almost be measured in weight: Annette's FBI file (at least, the part that was released) weighed twelve and one-half pounds. Among other things, it revealed that J. Edgar Hoover considered her to be "dangerous" and that she should be detained during any period of "national emergency." During this period, Congressional investigatory committees subpoenaed Annette to appear before them three times.
To an extraordinary degree, Annette turned the adversity of the McCarthy period to advantage. Although she had often given public lectures and written a few articles, it was really from the moment of her blacklisting that her career as an important left intellectual began. Starting in the fall of 1952, while never ceasing her political activism, she began writing in earnest. Every day from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM, she "buried herself" in the 42nd Street Library reading room to research and write the two-volume The Great Tradition in English Literature: From Shakespeare to Shaw. Its crystal-clear prose continues to enlighten and entertain readers. Its 926 pages sustains the thesis that this tradition is that of the "the great realists . . of the writers who know and are concerned with the vital current which moves steadily beneath the innumerable eddies and confusing crosscurrents of life's surface."
In 1955, as soon as The Great Tradition was completed, Annette spent the entire year in that same library researching and editing I Vote My Conscience: Debates, Speeches, and Writings of Vito Marcantonio, a five-hundred page compilation of Marcantonio's Congressional debates and speeches, accompanied by thirty pages of photographs, and a thirty-four page introduction. This monumental work, which she aptly described as a "partial political autobiography," consists of more than 150 excerpts of Marcantonio's Congressional speeches and debates, which are organized into seven chapters based on the seven sessions he served in the House. In recognition of his epic work on behalf of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people, there is a separate chapter, "Puerto Rico and Its People," which spans his entire political career. Lastly, there is a chapter that presents excerpts of his legal briefs on behalf of McCarthyism's intended victims, including W.E.B. DuBois and William Patterson, both of whom he successfully defended. After The Vito Marcantonio memorial published I Vote My Conscience in 1956, a veritable flood of articles and reviews flowed from her pen.
The companion to The Great Tradition in English Literature, the two-volume American Literature Root and Flower: Significant Poets, Novelists, and Dramatists, 1775-1955, was published in 1988. Its organizing concept is that: "Every important work is... deeply rooted in the life of the writer's own time whether in affirmative or adversary terms, whether consciously or unconsciously, whether expressed realistically or symbolically. The greater and more individual the writer, the more profoundly that writer speaks for others while speaking for himself or herself." This far-reaching study grew directly from her teaching experience, from 1982-1983, at the Beijing Institute of Foreign Languages (the current Beijing Foreign Studies University).
At every point during the repression, Annette stayed at her post and if it was overrun, she along with other survivors, established yet another, albeit more remote, redoubt. By 1950 the once formidable National Council of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions had dissolved except for a remnant from its writers' and publishers' division which until around 1960 continued to meet monthly in Annette's living room. This dogged group -- which included Ring Lardner, Jr., Charles Humboldt, Marvell Cooke, and the renowned artist Alice Neel -- read their works in progress and discussed the perennial topics that bedevil Left cultural workers, such as: the role of the individual in art and literature.
In 1958, along with some of the other leading figures of the ALP who had not been Communist Party members and with the active participation of the Socialist Workers Party, she became a founder of the Independent Socialist Party (ISP). (It was impossible to revive the ALP because in 1956 the New York State legislature had passed a law forbidding the use of the word "American" in the name of a political party on the state's ballot!) At the ISP's founding convention, Annette Rubinstein read and proposed the new party's platform which among other things called for a ban on nuclear weapons testing, recognition of China, self-determination of Puerto Rico, and an end to military alliances such as NATO. She joined the slate of the ISP as its candidate for Lieutenant Governor together with John T. McManus, the editor of the National Guardian, for Governor, Hugh Mulzac, the first African-American commander of a US Navy ship, for State Comptroller, and Corliss Lamont, the left publicist and popularizer of philosophy, for Senator. The results of the election were disappointing. Lamont, who was the best known of the candidates and who alone of the ISP slate had the Communist Party's endorsement, ran strongest with almost fifty thousand votes; however, McManus and Annette's 31,658 votes fell far short of the fifty thousand votes for its gubernatorial candidate required under state election law to award the Independent Socialist Party the legal status, which would have allowed it to appear on the ballot without again having to undertake the prodigious job of petition gathering.
As a consequence of the three unremunerated years she spent researching and writing in the Main Reading Room of the Forty-Second Street Library, the need to earn some money became increasingly pressing. Therefore, for a period of ten years starting in 1958, Annette embarked on coast-to-coast lecture tours that took her to the Pacific and back, with stops at as many as ten cities in between. This was made financially feasible by the airlines' practice at that time of permitting passengers to disembark as often as they wished, so that one roundtrip ticket paid for the traveling expenses of all of these engagements. Whenever possible, at each stop she scheduled a talk at a college campus during the day and a community meeting during the evening. There were meetings at San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, as well as on many campuses ranging from large State universities, such as Michigan and Minnesota, to the smaller liberal arts colleges with progressive traditions, such as Antioch and Oberlin. Among her twenty-six lecture topics were: "Man Triumphant in Shakespeare and Woman Too!," "Poetry and Politics from John Milton to Pablo Neruda," "How Lost Was the Lost Generation," "American Jewish Novelists Yesterday and Today," "Negro Writers in American Literature," and "Political Commitment and the Writer." In Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, she taught three to ten-session courses on "A Century of American Literature," "Negro Writer in the United States," and "Six Generations of Youth in Revolt." On some of these tours, Annette was accompanied by her mother who had throughout her own life lectured on literary and left topics.
Although the circulation of Annette's books in the United States had been limited primarily to the left community, they were widely circulated internationally, and especially in the Socialist bloc. After making a few inquiries, Annette discovered that universities and professional associations in one socialist country after another would welcome her as a lecturer. Thus, in 1960, together with her mother, she set out on a three-month tour. In Moscow, she lectured to various writers' groups, the translators' union, and the staff of several journals. At the Charles University in Prague, she gave several lectures on Shakespeare. They then traveled to Warsaw as part of an informal delegation to the annual conference of The Woman's International Democratic Federation. Annette and her mother then traveled to the German Democratic Republic where she lectured at Humboldt University in East Berlin, which was celebrating its 150th Jubilee, and at universities in Leipzig, Jena, Greifswald, and Rostock as well as the Pedagogical Institute at Potsdam. In 1966 and 1968, Annette made other lecture tours to Eastern Europe. In 1972-1973, responding to an invitation as a "veteran radical political activist," she traveled to China.
These trips convinced Annette that despite the obvious shortcomings, in comparison with capitalist countries these new societies "were on the right track." In 1981, Jewish Currents published a comment of Annette's on a previously published article where she succinctly enunciated her political beliefs: "A socialist revolution is the necessary prerequisite for a decent world. If, unfortunately, we have learned that it is possible to make such a revolution without achieving democracy, it is nevertheless still true that no real democracy is possible without socialism. [Nonetheless,] the socialism I want to see is not yet a reality anywhere .... [It is not enough for] the societies in which capitalism has been overthrown [to] only continue far enough on their present path. to reach a democratic socialism and, finally, communism ... many, perhaps all, of these societies have developed abuses so fundamental that a sharp change of direction, not simply an accelerated pace, is necessary for them to approach their avowed goals." This view, for many on the Left, encapsulates the history of the radical left as well as the historical experience leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union and globalization.
In 1963, Annette became the Executive Secretary of the Charter Group for a Pledge of Conscience, a New York City-based organization dedicated to fighting racism. The Charter Group organized financial support for the Mississippi Summer project and provided a progressive response to racially divisive events, such as the Harlem riots in 1972. The group was launched when it purchased an ad in the New York Times to have published a petition stating that it was not necessary for whites to travel to Mississippi to fight racism, because there were many manifestations of racism in New York City. Originally, the Charter Group had intended to work against racism in the areas of housing, education, and criminal justice. It soon realized that it had overextended itself. It removed housing from its mission because its members acknowledged that the Metropolitan Council on Housing effectively functioned in this arena. During the tumultuous 1968-1969 school year, the Charter Group provided support for the cause of community control of schools. It also published a three-hundred-page anthology, Schools against Children: The Case for Community Control, which Annette edited and to which she contributed "Visiting Ocean Hill-Brownsville," a firsthand report of the educational efforts then being implemented by the supporters of community control. Increasingly, the Charter Group focused on fighting what it viewed as the railroading of Black youth by a racist court system. The Charter Group published a number of pamphlets, most of which, such as Attica: 1971-1975, were written by Annette. Annette reflected that above all the Charter Group proved how much a small, but determined, group could accomplish.
Annette's wealth of experience in Left movements was put to great use when soon after its founding in 1970, she became a political mentor for El Comité/Movimiento de Izquierda Nacional Puertorriqueno -- a small but influential left formation that emerged in Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Annette continues her political and cultural work. Without fail, each semester she teaches courses for the Brecht Forum, such as: "Political Themes in Shakespeare," "Poetry and Politics," "British Poetry and the French Revolution," and "Good Political Poetry." She also continues writing book reviews for Monthly Review and serves on the editorial boards of Jewish Currents and Science & Society. An upsurge of interest in Vito Marcantonio within the Italian American community has led to a whole series of speaking engagements, the reprinting of I Vote My Conscience, and being awarded the Vito Marcantonio Award.
Annette's connection of her work and the means whereby she accomplishes her work has caused Annette to earn ever increasing amounts of affection and recognition. On her eighty-fifth birthday, a testimonial meeting at the Brecht Forum attracted one hundred family members, friends, students, and admirers; her ninetieth birthday, a testimonial dinner, held at the Church Center for United Nations, brought together over two hundred. Even larger numbers hope to honor her on her one-hundredth birthday.