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It’s not military-oriented, but it is part of the holiday’s history – and much of the celebration of the holiday is around the subject of freedom. This was an expression of that freedom. I really miss Frank’s communications with me whenever I did a radio show about left history.
This is on display at Bolerium Books. This is the caption on their Facebook Page:
Memorial Day, 1969… A call to tear down the fences around People’s Park in Berkeley. This issue of Outcry! unfolds into a Frank Cieciorka poster celebrating the creation of the park from a trash-strewn lot. Text on other side encourages the residents of Berkeley to pour into the streets on the holiday and remove the barricades that had been put up around the park by police.
UC Berkeley Radical Student Union. Outcry! from occupied Berkeley. (Number 2). . 4p., tabloid format on newsprint, folds out completely to make 23×32 inch poster captioned “Let a thousand parks bloom.” (#134008) $25.00
Click on the title above, and it will take you to a PDF of an old anti-Vietnam War leaflet.
Spent Sunday night at my mother’s and she had found it in her storage. Simple black and white thing – no graphics. My parents believe it may have been the first anti-Vietnam war leaflet in San Francisco. It was their creation.
They first pulled it out when I was in high school. Having read some of the SWP stuff I was bringing home – triggering bad memories of their own run-ins with the SWP and similar groups back in the 60s and early 70s, they took it out to show me how political literature ought to be written.
But first a little history. Note that the group members all put their names, addresses, and phone numbers on the back. Naivete. They learned quickly that it was a bad idea. Note that there are four Kirks on the list. Evelyn, my aunt, died a few years back.
At least one other person on the list, Gayle Figueroa, was a family friend who died just a couple of years after this leaflet was printed. Joseph (now goes by Jose) is still alive and kicking.
My parents don’t remember much about the others on the list, except that they were all in their late 20s or older – some of them from radical families and others Civil Rights Movement veterans (with plenty of overlap between the two). Ace Delosada was a bit older, and was active in the CIO before it merged with the AFL – I know this from an old library archived newspaper article I found online.
There was plenty of political activity in Berkeley at the time, largely the Free Speech Movement on campus, as follow-up to the CORE activities against job discrimination in grocery stores and the anti-HUAC demonstration which radicalized so many of them at City Hall. There was not much outside of labor happening in San Francisco. The North Beach scene was never really political in anything other than a cultural way, and the Haight Ashbury was just starting to percolate. I did not know until I saw this leaflet again (and didn’t notice it 30 years ago) that my parents had moved us from Mill Valley to Castro Street. By the time I was two, we lived on Cole Street in the Haight (and left for Moss Beach and the Blue Lady well before the Summer of Love when I was three). So this leaflet was printed in 1965 or perhaps early 1966.
And it generated an enormous response.
These were older activists – some of them seasoned. Grounded. And they understood the Socratic approach to rhetoric. I think it is one of the best written leaflets I’ve seen. It doesn’t tell you how to think. It’s primarily a series of questions. Designed to simply make you think. It avoids words like “imperialism.” And it avoids slogans like “Say No to the War in Vietnam!” It invites the reader to find his/her own voice. It respects the reader.
And the activists who understand this concept are far and few. Part of the reason I was drawn into the Christian left movements, even before I seriously considered religion itself, was the approach of humility and respect sometimes lacking in the secular movements, particularly in the hard old and new left milieus.
Still, the leaflet resulted in threatening phone calls, and other harassment. But the group grew rather quickly.
The group that formed would evolve into the San Francisco contingent of what would become known as The Peace and Freedom Party. My parents didn’t stay involved. They thought that Eldritch Cleaver was a bad choice to run for President in 1968, but supported him anyway. By 1972, they were supporting McGovern even though they liked the P&F candidate – Dr. Benjamin Spock. When I want to cast a protest vote because the Democrat is too conservative or otherwise undesirable, I opt for the P&F Party candidate more often than the Green, and I wish they would merge. We don’t need our fringe groups splintered at the ballot.
Anyway, just thought I would share.
I read The Dialectic of Sex in high school. I liked it, and then reread it a few years later and thought it was kind of silly – especially the chart at the end where she prophecied the end of oppression would lead to the end of death. But it was formative for me and well-written – I think the first feminist book I read.
I don’t know what happened to my copy actually. I may have to buy it again and give it a third read.
Here is a nice obituary which also describes a very tragic ending. It’s where I got the photo.
Bridges was of course the most influential Longshoreman’s Union organizer of the 20th century – certainly on the west coast. He was also a socialist fellow traveler, and a Woody Guthrie type folk intellectual. Ian Ruskin is the actor. Hopefully someone at HSU will invite the project for a local performance of From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks.
You can view all five videos of a performance through this link. Below is a sampling, although it’s really not the best sampling imo. Watch the videos. There are CDs and DVDs available too, through the website.
There have been movies about Che Guevara, including a very bad right wing hit movie entitled “Che” in which Omar Sharif played Castro and was contractually forced to utter lines like “the revolutionary and the peasant are like the flower and the bee – neither can propogate without the other.”
There was a movie about Rosa Luxembourg. One about John Reed. Lenin has been depicted, including a very nuanced depiction in the old BBC series The Life of Reilly (the real life character upon which James Bond is loosely based). There was a sympathetic depiction of Trostky in Frida. But nothing, positive or negative, about Marx – not even by CP/fellow travellor movie makers cranking out agit prop films like Salt of the Earth or Burn!.
There have been plenty of depiction of Hitler. I can only think of one depiction of Stalin in Children of the Revolution. Oh, actually there was a depiction in The Life of Reilly – not so nuanced, but then he wasn’t very nuanced in real life.
Wikipedia has an entry re Marx in film, but it’s mostly documentary, though there’s apparently something which may be in the works – Haitian director Raoul Peck has apparently been working on a bio-film since 2007.
But whatever your views on the person, he is a fascinating character – much drama in his life – and for better or worse has had a profound impact on the whole planet and its course of history. Why the absence of treatment?
The drawing is of the young Karl Marx, snatched from Google Photos.
A monologue play about the life of the iconic radical singer. No chance to watch it soon unless you happen to be at Carnegie Hall on February 12. However, I am informed that Mr. Aluko will be bringing the act to California at a later date. No idea when or where.
Addendum: A friend emailed some youtube links. The first is from Showboat, a classic.
And here’s an account of the HUAC, Jackie Robinson, Paul Robeson incident.