1960s Weather Underground Meets 1930’s Radical Union Organizer

100 Letters from My Father by Charlotte Marchant

A Nina Serrano Production: a 1-hour KPFA-FM Special

100 Letters From My Father by Charlotte Marchant: A radical working-class family’s saga told through a dialog between a daughter in the 1960s Weather Underground movement and her immigrant English father, a 1930’s union organizer. Produced by Nina Serrano.

100 Letters from My Father

100 Letters from My Father

The father, Fredrick Marchant, had two children, Charlotte and Jeffrey, in the 1940’s while living in the housing projects of New York City. His wife Shirley died when the children were in their teens. As the children left home for college, he began writing them letters over the following years until his death in 1976. Only his letters to his son Jeffrey survived.  His daughter Charlotte, recently edited and excerpted her father’s letters from the 1960’s and 70’s and added her own present-day commentary to create a dramatic dialogue. The result is a  tapestry of ideas that shoot back and forth through time between her father commenting to her brother on her youthful radical activism and her own responses as her more mature self-today.

This epic piece, covering Charlotte’s several arrests and jailings, reveals the heart of a family as it struggles through those tumultuous times of social upheaval including the Vietnam War protests, the Black Panthers, the Days of Rage, the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the LGBT Movement. Their voices speak out against the forces of repression to affirm love and social commitment.

100 Letters from My Father Radio Production

Charlotte played herself in the recording attached to this blog post and English born San Francisco artist, Anthony Holdsworth, read Fred’s letters, whom he never met. Charlotte says Anthony “channeled” her father. I agree. I knew Fred because Charlotte’s mother and my mother were lifelong friends since childhood. Being fourteen years older than Charlotte, I was Charlotte’s babysitter and our brothers, Jeffrey and Philip, were playmates. In producing this moving piece for radio, I was thrilled to use Philip Serrano’s music to introduce and close this dialog. The title of his music is The Rosenberg Theme. Philip wrote and recorded it for my play, The Story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. I chose it for its 1950’s feel and nostalgia to help transport listeners to these earlier times.

I also added a short fascinating listeners’ “talkback” to the production to reflect on and analyze the readings and round out the hour.

Talk Back

You can share here and at Charlotte Marchant website at 100 Letters from My Father.  You can also check out my blog on The Story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg on this website. The play is now available in print and eBook from Estuary Press.



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About Nina Serrano

Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 84 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.com or contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.


1960s Weather Underground Meets 1930’s Radical Union Organizer — 3 Comments

  1. Great work. Congrats Charlotte and Nina for producing a wonderful remembrance. Those times were wild. I have been critical of the Weather Underground, much like Charlotte’s father was, but I have to admire the nerve, the boldness and the dedication that you (we) all showed in those times when we fought against war and injustice like our lives depending on it. I think we are there again and I hope this piece inspires listeners to do it some more.

  2. Pingback: Under the Beatles Again | My Father's Letters

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