‘Letter to the John Reed Club from a N.Y. Pioneer’ by Mary A. Rapoport from New Masses. Vol. 7 No. 3. August, 1931.

’22 members of the total of 34 now in the Red Pioneer Orchestra of Chicago, directed by Greesha Haitowich, (insert upper left) member of the Chicago John Reed Club.’
‘Letter to the John Reed Club from a N.Y. Pioneer’ by Mary A. Rapoport from New Masses. Vol. 7 No. 3. August, 1931.

Comrades of the John Reed Club and the N. Y. Federation:

We workers kids can’t afford to attend expensive art schools. We have no opportunity for the development of what talents we possess. Sometimes one of us exceptionally gifted secures a scholarship to one of the bourgeois institutions. What good does it do? The comrade is surrounded on all sides by examples of profitable, “kept” art and gradually he falls into the same ways. His genius is lost to the working-class.

Here in New York, a comrade, a Pioneer of many years standing, begins to neglect her Pioneer work. Instead of attending important meetings she goes to hear the Stadium Concerts. Whereas her love for music should have drawn her closer to the movement, she finds herself growing apart from it. What about the orchestral and music study groups that should have been right here among the Pioneers?

Recently, in Chicago, Comrade Greesha Haitowich organized a Red Pioneer Orchestra. The group started with twelve members and today they have thirty-four. They have three lessons a week, free!Their instruments are being paid for on the installment plan, from dues and from money the kids make at concerts. Aside from its excellence as an orchestra, the group participates in all demonstrations and-working-class activities. It has been assigned to work in a Negro territory and in one day the members of this orchestra made thirty contacts with Negro children. This is work! And it is due to the unfailing activity of Comrade Haitowich that this group is not only the largest, but probably the best, in the entire United States.

Come on John Reed Club! We Pioneers look to you for cultural guidance just as much as we look to the Young Communist League for political leadership. We are waiting to be taught. Build up the basis for a proletarian culture among the children. Your very existence demands it. Bring on your drawing classes, orchestras, and dramatic groups! We are ready!

New York, N.Y. Mary A. Rapoport.

The New Masses was the continuation of Workers Monthly which began publishing in 1924 as a merger of the ‘Liberator’, the Trade Union Educational League magazine ‘Labor Herald’, and Friends of Soviet Russia’s monthly ‘Soviet Russia Pictorial’ as an explicitly Communist Party publication, but drawing in a wide range of contributors and sympathizers. In 1927 Workers Monthly ceased and The New Masses began. A major left cultural magazine of the late 1920s to early 1940s, the early editors of The New Masses included Hugo Gellert, John F. Sloan, Max Eastman, Mike Gold, and Joseph Freeman. Writers included William Carlos Williams, Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Day, John Breecher, Langston Hughes, Eugene O’Neill, Rex Stout and Ernest Hemingway, Artists included Hugo Gellert, Stuart Davis, Boardman Robinson, Wanda Gag, William Gropper and Otto Soglow. Over time, the New Masses became narrower politically and more journalistic in its tone.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/new-masses/1931/v07n03-aug-1931-New-Masses.pdf

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