The Markham-Nathan Fund for Social Justice serves grassroots social justice and peace groups in Western Massachusetts. The fund was created in 2009 by Northampton activist organizers Marty Nathan and Arky Markham, with their friends, in honor of their deceased husbands’ tireless devotion to building a better world. The MNF makes awards of up to $2500 to small activist organizations in Western Massachusetts who are dedicated to organizing and supporting the poor and powerless for a more just and peaceful world. In the past five years, the MNF has distributed over $100,000 in grants; the MNF depends on the support of individual contributors with all donations going to our grantees. The MNF works with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts who are a 501(c)3 tax deductible non-profit organization.
Members of the Board
George Markham (1909-2009) was a tireless advocate for workers rights, economic justice, social change, and single payer health care. As a legislative agent for the Massachusetts CIO in 1946, George was instrumental in the passage of the Fair Employment Practices Act and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Shortly after moving to Northampton in 1971, he organized the Northampton Elder Americans, and founded and was the first chair of the local CPPAX chapter. He has served on the Democratic City Committee and was Democrat of the Year. Never afraid to take on the “powers that be” George challenged, argued, demonstrated and demanded for what was right. He was a journalist, intellectual, professor, gardener, chef, writer, and an unyielding, uncompromising activist for justice. He was married to Arky Markham for 40 years.
Rose “Arky” Markham (b. 1915) has devoted her life to the cause of social justice, anti-war and anti-racism work, and single payer health care. She was a founding member of the Franklin/Hampshire Health Care Coalition and an active member of MassCare, an organization whose sole mission is the enactment of single payer health care. Arky and George were leaders in efforts to get legislative appropriation of $50,000 to study the feasibility of a state single payer system. In 1982 Arky was a founding member of Social Workers for Peace and Justice which advocates for single payer health care and political freedom in Latin American countries. She was an early and strong opponent of the war in Vietnam (her first date with George was at a demonstration against the war). Arky was also a founding member of Pioneer Valley Coalition Against Secrecy and Torture and a founder and early board member of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Arky continues to be active in anti-war vigils, lobbying, leafleting, organizing, presentations and educational programs. She was married to George for 40 years.
Mike Nathan, MD (1947-1979) was born in Chicago of working class immigrant parents and grew up in Washington, DC. He first became active against the Vietnam War in high school and was a leader of the student support of Black housekeepers at Duke University and participated in a takeover of the University President’s house in 1969 to demand their union’s recognition. As a pediatrician he treated children in the community health center in the heart of Durham, NC’s African-American Community and raised medical supplies for the Zimbabwean liberation movement fighting against apartheid in what was then Rhodesia. He also led a support movement for African-American laundry workers who contracted tuberculosis while working at Durham County General Hospital. He was murdered while attending an anti-KuKluxKlan march in Greensboro, NC, on November 3, 1979. Forty Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis drove into the gathering and shot and killed Mike and his friends Sandi Smith, Cesar Cauce, Bill Sampson and Jim Waller. All had been active in unionization efforts in the area and a civil rights suit 1985 found Klansmen, Nazis and Greensboro Police liable for Mike’s death.
Marty Nathan, MD is a physician residing in Northampton and working at Brightwood Health Center in Springfield. After the death of her first husband, Michael, Marty and other survivors successfully sued Klansmen, Nazis and Greensboro Police and, with the judgment won in this case, Marty helped initiate and for 15 years directed the Greensboro Justice Fund as a funding organization. Over the next twenty years the GJF raised and gave away $500,000 as grants to small groups fighting for civil rights and social justice in the US South. Marty has lived in the Northampton area since 1995, and was a founder, with her friend Arky Markham, of the Northampton Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Pioneer Valley Coalition Against Secrecy and Torture and the Pioneer Valley Coalition to Prevent War on Iran. She is currently on the steering committee of Climate Action Now and founding member of The Cliniquita Fund of the Pioneer Valley Project. She is married to Elliot Fratkin and has three children: Leah Nathan and Mulugetta and Masaye Fratkin.
Marty and Arky, with their friends, have now created the Markham-Nathan Fund for Social Justice in honor of their husbands. It serves grassroots social justice and peace groups in Western Massachusetts. They urge you to join them to support those groups that are working to build a better world.