Center for Marxist Education
According to director Gary Dotterman, the volunteer-run center—which will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary in January — 2005, is still open during limited hours on Thursday evenings, offering lectures, courses, book signings and film series. The center, which has a mailing list of 540 members, also operates the Bookmarx bookstore and hosts a weekly show on Cambridge cable television.
“It’s mainly a place for people to come, converse, learn and explore new ideas and some old ideas,” Dodderman says.
The space on Mass. Ave. was first used as a headquarters for Communist Party USA candidate Laura Ross, who challenged legendary Massachusetts congressman Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill in the 1970’s. After she lost—twice—the newly founded center took over the space, and to this day pays the rent using donations from members. One of its founders, MIT mathematician Dirk Struik, was banned from teaching during what Dodderman calls “the dark years of the McCarthy era.” Struik stayed on at MIT, and “he couldn’t teach but they had to pay him anyway,” Dodderman says.
Since then, the center’s space has been used by activists and hosted foreign dignitaries, including an ambassador from Haiti and representatives from Cuba. Dodderman says Harvard faculty members and students have taken part in the lecture series and study groups over the years. “We got a really good deal on the rent,” Dodderman says of the space. “We’ve grown up around it.”