ORGANIZER 26:  ORGANIZING AND REALITIES:  MISS ELLA  J. BAKER ET AL -- AND THE PERENNIAL CHALLENGE [HUNTER GRAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2003]

ALSO, FEAR, HYSTERIA -- AND DUCT TAPE [HUNTER GRAY  2/14/03]

ALSO, MODERATOR'S [SERIOUS] NOTES   [HUNTER GRAY  2/19/03]

MOUNTAIN THOUGHTS [HUNTER GRAY APRIL 20, 2003]
 

ORGANIZING AND REALITIES:

Note by Hunterbear: [Hunter Gray / John R Salter, Jr]

First off, I didn't sign the pro-Lerner letter/petition -- even though it
does contain the names of several who are old and very long-standing friends
of mine.  I waited until the basic factual situation emerged and I'm
comfortable with my personal decision  on the matter.  Whenever I come to
these
junctures, I recall my Native father's admonitions to his hot-tempered
half-breed sons, "Don't shoot from the hip unless you absolutely have to."
I also recall my very old and very good friend and colleague, over many
turbulent years in the South [and far beyond], the always-elder and
uncompromising-on-principles Miss Ella J. Baker, who -- in the context
of an intra-Movement factional issue -- would see dark clouds emerging from
my soul and eyes and lippy mouth, and would grin and say, "You young people
are on fire -- but remember, John, it takes more than just that. Organizing
and building pockets of peoples' power -- and thinking -- that's what it
takes."

And I've always been an organizer.  Always will be.

For what it may be worth, I've consistently felt the "Iraq War" can be
avoided -- and I continue to be very hopeful on that score.  But I have a
haunting memory.  Following our long sojourn in the Southern Movement --
1961-1967 -- Eldri and I and our growing family were in the Pacific
Northwest
where we were involved in a number of very solid activist things and then
spent a pleasant -- but actively activist year at Coe College in Cedar
Rapids, Iowa.  We got over to nearby Iowa City with some frequency --
commendably awash in those days with anti-war demonstrations and all sorts
of on-lookers.  At the conclusion of that academic year [1968-69], we went
on to the South/Southwest Side of Chicago for four years of intensive
community organizing in that setting -- and Indian involvements on the
Northside.  In the late summer of 1973 we moved to Iowa City where I had
accepted a professorship in the Graduate Program in Urban and Regional
Planning at UI [and adjunct in Social Work and Health and Hospital
Administration.]

By then, the radical movement at Iowa City was very small.  The public
demonstrations were extremely so  -- and the curious farmers no longer
gathered to stare with wonder.  Good activist work could be done -- and we
certainly did whatever we could -- always.  But it was not, even in '73 and
'74, "the old days."

The "War Question" is Writ Big at this point.  But beyond it, is another:
Can the present Movement -- once the War situation is resolved in
either a relatively peaceful fashion, or bloodily -- transpose at least a
great big part of itself into a genuinely radical American Movement?

I, myself, don't mean "the two old parties" -- including the Democratic
Party. Independent, essentially Left political action makes far better
good sense to me -- and the need for  this is certainly underscored
emphatically by the cruel realities of the current
American scene.

I'm talking about genuine grassroots "people organizing"
on a wide range of currently compelling issues -- and toward bona fide
socialist democracy "over the mountains yonder."

In a nutshell, this is how I see solid organizing:

An effective organizer seeks to get grassroots people together -- and does;
develops on-going and democratic local leadership; deals effectively with
grievances and individual/family concerns; works with the people to achieve
basic organizational goals and  develop new ones; and builds a sense of the
New World To Come Over The Mountains Yonder -- and how all of that relates
to the shorter term steps.

In the Summer of '67, Ella Baker and I sat one long and very pleasant
afternoon on the front porch of her old family home at Littleton, North
Carolina -- Halifax County.  Much had happened since we had first met in the
very earliest part of the turbulent '60s.  Can the student and related
movements of today get down eventually to basic grassroots organizing on
long-term issues -- toward the ever-broadening and deepening "pockets of
grassroots peoples' power?"

I was vigorously optimistic. She was hopeful.

We saw one another at different points in the years that followed.

More than a decade after the long visit at Littleton on the Movement future,
Ella and I visited at length again at her Harlem apartment [10 West 135th
Street, if I recall correctly] on that general topic.  I was the stormy
director of social justice activities for the Catholic Diocese of Rochester,
 --  in town for a meeting of the New York State Catholic Conference.

By then, Ella and I both wondered, "Will it -- the Movement -- come again?"

I leave it at that -- for the moment.

To return briefly to a present Movement controversy, I repost my piece of
several days ago:

FUSSING ABOUT WORKERS WORLD -- VS. THE CHALLENGE OF THE REAL REALITIES

I don't know a great deal -- or even much at all -- about Workers World. [I
remember it slightly from the early and mid '60s but it was only a very
peripheral and minor presence in the South.]  But it is my understanding
that it presently numbers much less than a thousand nationally.  This means
you could cut a very small slice from Pocatello, Idaho [total population
about 50,000 or so] right here and have far more souls than WW.  At this
point, it's an easy target for Redbaiters and reactionaries and ex-radicals
and sanctimonious/supercilious "liberals" -- but, if it weren't around,
they'd find many other scapegoats [and are -- including DSA!].

WW, like anything else, is certainly not beyond thoughtful criticism at
all -- but I'm not impressed with  people who are spending their basic time
and passion attacking WW -- or any other Left outfit at this point -- when
the world teeters on the brink of one of the worst regional disasters in
human history, when unemployment and subemployment in this country are
carrying us straight to Hell in a handbucket, when farmers and ranchers are
continuing to lose their land in the Great Plains [and elsewhere], and when
Bush/Ashcroft/Ridge are testing our democratic foundations with wave after
wave of what I call "wistful fascism."  [I do think our basic democratic
institutions will survive the assault.] Nor am I at all impressed with those
who "use" the presence of WW as an excuse to cop out of social activism --
either via transference or outright retreat.

I gather WW, along with many others, has done an effective job in organizing
and mobilizing people in the anti-War cause -- and started, commendably,
along with many others, with the "previous" and still on-going "war" in
Afghanistan [which, of course, set the stage for this Iraq crisis.]  If WW
has anything solid to offer over the long haul, it'll grow; if not, it
won't.  The  relatively free minds of people can still reject error and grab
truth.

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]  DSA Anti-Racism, Solidarity, CCDS, SPUSA
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

FEAR, HYSTERIA -- AND DUCT TAPE [HUNTER GRAY  2/14/03]

I can remember -- even after I got out of the Army at the very beginning of
'55 -- that the spontaneous and manufactured nonsense about digging your own
atom bomb shelter in your back yard was still in high national gear [along
with the Davy Crockett song and the  little outdoor cooking grills.]  Around
Flagstaff, Arizona [my home town], most people didn't scare easily -- but
digging was almost impossible anyway since the basic surface under a shallow
level of conventional earth [despite healthy forests of yellow pine, spruce,
fir, and cedar] is malapais:  black lava volcanic rock and cinders.  Few
basements in that setting.  US governmental nuclear testing at Desert Rock,
Nevada, could be seen in pre-dawn morning after morning lighting up the far
northwest -- but our massive San Francisco Peaks just north of Flagstaff and
the nearby Grand Canyon's wind  currents blocked that deadly radioactive
fallout [which no one except the government really knew much about then]
from hitting us.  Those in Nevada and much of Utah and extreme Northern
Arizona were not so fortunate -- and, in due course, towns like tiny
Fredonia in the far northern part of our geographically huge Coconino County
experienced leukemia rates 18 times the national average. The very high loss
of life from that -- and many more years of subsequent Desert Rock
testing -- goes on to this moment  Meanwhile, Navajo and Laguna and other
uranium workers were being systematically exposed to lethal radioactivity
via the disturbance of the canary yellow uranium carnotite ore. That death
toll from cancer, "the sore that will not heal", is now in the thousands and
still continuing -- and there are many bones indeed under the deep blue
turquoise sky.


Hunter [Hunterbear]

www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'


In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunterbear]

 

MODERATOR'S [SERIOUS] NOTES   [HUNTER GRAY  2/19/03]

It's really rare for me to post moderator's notes -- and this is neither
urgent nor earth-trembling. It's the longest thing of this nature I've ever
posted. But I do feel obliged to now say some things -- on behalf of myself
and the good members of our Lists. I come, as most of us do, from traditions
that encourage openness and involve our meaning exactly what we say.

I'm sending this to the two primary lists I moderate -- Redbadbear and
Marxist.  [I'm not sending this to the third list I moderate -- the very
small SocUnity -- of which my friend, Duane Campbell, is also moderator.]  I
am sending this directly to a number of individuals as well -- almost all of
them friends.

Each of these two lists has its own unique character and each is large and
diverse -- and that's all to the good. We have a general direction but we
have no List party line -- and I, at least, have never personally been one
for esoteric ideological chewing and fencing. But, if you're into that --
Fine!  [I run in my own herd which is a Herd of One.]  Generally speaking,
the tenor of List discussion, however understandably sparky, has been
commendably rational.  As I pointed out on Redbadbear yesterday, I see no
reason -- as things stand now -- for any list member to feel obligated to
apologize to any other. That applies to both lists. And, even if red-hot
debate flares -- as it occasionally does -- I'm not concerned that the
respective list involved will go up, exiting en toto in fire and smoke.
We'll survive nicely.

Ever the scout -- keen eyed and rather psychic -- I have picked up
increasingly destructive efforts from hostile and/or emotionally venal
quarters  on a number of other lists and involving a number of individuals.
I've been a target of some of this and I'm certainly far from alone.

All of this has picked up increasingly venomous steam from this past summer
onward.  Involving as perpetrators certain folks of very dubious
motivations, ranging from right-wing "soc democrat" types to emotionally
unhinged psyches, this has featured the circulation of defamatory
material -- outright concoction and distortion -- to various recipients  in
an effort to promote division and discord and other self-serving agendas.
This is usually done surreptitiously so it can take awhile for the poison to
emerge enough into the Sunlight -- as it always ultimately does -- to be
effectively answered and destroyed with Truth.  As I noted in a post a few
days ago indicating the three year anniversary of our now huge and very
popular Lair of Hunterbear website, its main focus has always been social
justice activism but corollary dimensions involve providing accurate info
about me as well.  [In my case, see http://www.hunterbear.org/narrative.htm
as the starting point.]

If any of you are the targets of poisonous stuff, and I can be of
assistance, don't hesitate to let me know.  Loyalty to family and friends, a
universal Native cultural value, is always at my fore.

For some time now, both our Lists have had the requirement that moderator's
approval is necessary to join. [Virtually everyone is approved!]  This was
initially because the efforts of spammers -- a couple of them porno
purveyors -- continued to make systematic entry thrusts.  More recently,
however, someone on the Socialist Party list and its companion Red Youth
list [this person is neither SPUSA nor a youth], has been trying to sign
each of those lists onto our Marxist list.  This, if it were effected, would
lead to all messages on Marxist going to those two other lists -- and
presumably upsetting some folks there before this maneuver was detected.  I
have blocked this attempt a half dozen times since the beginning of January.
Redbadbear has always had archives open only to members -- but Marxist has
had open archives.  I closed those of Marxist to outsiders two days or so
ago -- simply because there have been efforts by some to maliciously take
posts from various lists and circulate them,  out of context, to other lists
or even to private fink mailing lists.  Normal people who've been interested
in reading the Marxist posts on the web should simply sign up on Marxist --
even with no e-mail -- and they can continue to read along as always.

Ahead of all of us, wherever we are, lie enormous challenges:  great
mountains to climb and always one more river to cross. And beyond, always,
lies the New World.  It is not " a shadowy naught, lying in the Valley of
Fanciful Thought" -- but a Great and Glowing Reality that we can catch and
hold and feather out. I am confident that success will indeed be ours in the
long run.

Fraternally / In Solidarity

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunterbear]
 

MOUNTAIN THOUGHTS [HUNTER GRAY APRIL 20, 2003] WITH REPOST OF ELLA BAKER/ORGANIZING PIECE]

Note by Hunterbear:

This is a short post that I made over two months ago, repeated now since I
believe its point is even more timely.  [And if, by some extremely remote
sense, you don't know who the great Ella J. Baker was, head for a library
with civil rights works -- or try on-line reference mines.] Since that
initial posting, the "War" has come -- leaving Iraq a bloody swamp of agony
and death with the historic United States long-term investment being at
least a full harvest century into-the-future from virulent seeds of hatred
sown across the entire region.  The skeleton hand on the horizon sketches
the outline of New Wars 'A Coming.

The great mass protests which characterized the United States this past
winter especially are  [temporarily] replaced by sharply reduced and
scattered efforts.  The magnificent peace movement could be jointly led by
Jesus and the ghosts of Martin King and Gurley Flynn and by Our Lady of
Guadalupe as well -- and, given the morality-mangling and law-smashing
mystical imperialism of the Bushies -- and the almost total capitulation of
a cowardly Democratic Party -- it would have made no War-stoppage
difference at this point. [But it certainly can in the future -- and,
over the longer run, all of it will mean much indeed that's good.]  For the
moment, much --  but far from all -- of the American Left  seems
dispirited. And a few who are mostly on the rightist-margin-of-the-left
have chosen this point to savagely and noisily attack Cuba, always
and very much now in the gunsights of the U.S.
government:  Cuba, whose on-going Revolution I and many others have
certainly always seen as being very much indeed in the time-honored
indigenous social traditions of its older Mexican counterpart -- along
with the remarkably similar people-strangling dictators,
Diaz and Batista, and the consistent
and unremitting brutal hostility of the United States of America.

If ever there was a time to take one's heart and soul  -- and canteen,
C-rations, verbal weaponry and leaflets -- and grassroots organize, This is
It.  The Vision of Peace continues to call with urgency -- but so does
increasingly demanding economic and social justice. And, very much, the
fight against corporate capitalism.  It's really good to see more and more
groups focusing on those very urgent pork chop and deeper issues:  Western
DSA's social justice conference, with backing from always-busy CCDS, is next
weekend [ April 25/26/27 at UC Berkeley.]  Solidarity had a Southern labor
conference in mid-February -- which hopefully will be followed by more
activist efforts in Dixie [my own adopted section!]
SPUSA is busy.  And so is CPUSA.  And others.

Some bright, glowing fingers on the horizon.  Time will tell if it's really
Dawn.  Enduring efforts and solidarity can certainly make it so.

Hunter [Hunterbear]


 

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunterbear]



 

 

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