The object I have chosen is my father’s book, Not For Bread Alone: A Memoir by Moe Foner, which was published in 2002 shortly after his death. He was born in 1915 in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants. When they came to America, my father’s parents originally settled on the Lower East Side before moving on to Brooklyn, first Williamsburg and later on Borough Park. His father (my grandfather), as my father writes, “was a seltzer man when I was a boy in Brooklyn, and he was always tired.” He became an important leader in the labor movement for the health care workers’ union. He was a pivotal figure in the campaign to organize workers at New York City’s voluntary hospitals. The first major hospital strike was in 1959; most of the workers were black and Puerto Rican, many of them migrants from the US South and Puerto Rico. There is a photograph in the book of a Puerto Rican mother and her two daughters walking on the picket line at Mount Sinai hospital holding up a sign, “Mount Sinai workers can’t live on $32 a week.” My father was someone for whom improving the conditions of workers, whatever their ethnicity or immigrant background, was critical, and he worked not just to better the wages and working conditions of hospital workers but also to bring outstanding cultural programs to them through the Bread and Roses cultural project which he founded and directed for many years. As my father always said, “union members deserve the best.”

Year: 2002

– Nancy Foner

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant