Carefully Tateh explained that although he was unalterably opposed to Goldman, she being an anarchist and he being a socialist, he had great respect for her personal courage and integrity; and that he had therefore agreed that some sort of temporary accord between the socialists and the anarchists was advisable, if only for the evening, because the funds raised for the occasion would go to support...the anarchist Francisco Ferrer, who was going to be condemned and executed for fomenting a general strike in Spain.
Francisco Ferrer i Guàrdia was born in 1859 in a small town near Barcelona to Roman Catholic parents. Influenced at the early age of 15 by an anti-cleric employer, Ferrer went on to become an anarchist leader in Spain. He was exiled to Paris in 1885 with his wife and children, later returning in 1901 to open his infamous Escuela Moderna (The Modern School) to "teach middle class children radical social values".
The Modern School was a "rational, secular, and non-coercive" primary and secondary school, according to the stated goal of the school. The private goal was to raise up a generation of leaders for the working class when revolution eventually struck. In reality, high tuition fees prevented anyone other than the wealthier middle class from sending their children to Ferrer's school. The Modern School closed in 1906 after Ferrer was arrested for sedition.
Ferrer would go on to be executed by firing squad three years after the closing of the school. He was "found guilty in a military trial in which no solid evidence was brought against him". Goldman was largely responsible for Ferrer's legacy living on, calling Ferrer a "rebel" whose "spirit would rise in just indignation" and forming the Ferrer Association. Many of Ferrer's ideas spread after his execution, leading to the establishment of a handful Modern Schools, or Ferrer Schools, in the United States.
Read Goldman's essay, "Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School", here.
Dramaturgy for the Ragtime musical and novel.
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