CONTEMPORARY ACTIVIST THOUGHTS #2

 

Saami Issues [People of the Arctic]

                         March 18, 2001

We very much appreciate Louis' posting of the New York Times piece, "I am a
Sami."  [The NYT is not exactly a best seller anywhere  here in Idaho.]   The
article is certainly well meaning but we do feel obliged to round things out
just a bit -- and give a little sharper perspective.  My wife, Eldri, is of
considerable Saami [another spelling] descent  -- Norwegian and Finnish --
and while she is quite capable of speaking for herself et al., she's
delegated this one to me since I'm quite at home on our Marxism list.

The article indicates general ambiguity about the origins of the Saami,
quotes an anthropologist who feels they have no  Far Eastern origin, and
gives the impression that they are light-skinned and blond.  Vigorous
dissents from this corner [and we are sure there will be from many others.]
My wife and her people are rather dark, with  conspicuously slanted  dark
brown or almost-black eyes, and often with broad faces [the children on her
side have sometimes been mistaken for "nice little Koreans.'']  This is
essentially true of many, many Saami;  and lends considerable credence to
the most widely accepted account -- by a great many Saami [and by several
anthros] -- of their initial geographical origin:  the northern edge of the
Lake Baikal region on the Siberian/Mongolian border and a migration that
moved westward over centuries, undoubtedly mixing with many other peoples
along the junket -- and certainly, in the more "European" sections of
Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, blending with those peoples.
Traditional Saami still hold to a theology encompassing The Bear, and some
extended family structures still have a delineated "family shaman."
Originally from Northern Minnesota, and raised a liberal Lutheran, my wife
also has a very culturally  ingrained recognition of the "mysterious forces
which cannot be codified in blackboard formulae" [my words.] Several members
of her family have married Native Americans.

What really matters, of course, is not the racial piece of it -- culture, of
course, is always critical and the Saami are  the Saami, whatever the colour
shade, as the Rom are the Rom -- but the fact that the Saami, like Fourth
World  peoples everywhere, are maintaining essentially tribal societies and
basic cultures, fighting for their inherent sovereignty and rights of
self-determination and aboriginal title,  holding on to land and other
resources -- while endeavouring to make some sort of practical adjustment to
the influences of urban/industrialism: e.g., using snowmobiles -- but for
Saami purposes -- as a Navajo uses a pickup ["Navajo Cadillac."]

Many years ago, I had the honour of taking the  then Finnish ambassador to
the U.N. on a full-day tour of Chicago -- with an emphasis on a number of
low-income grassroots minority community organizational projects in which I
was deeply  involved.  He was a very sensitive and decent person and aware
of my wife's background. The subject of the Saami did not arise until --
after our tour was essentially completed and he had expressed considerable
concern about the minority groups of Chicago -- I broached  the "minority
situation" of Finland.  Gamely, he rose to the occasion, making no effort
whatsoever to sugar-coat Finland's treatment of the arctic nomads. "I am
glad you raised this so directly," he told me, "because we always have to be
reminded."

And the Saami are now reminding not only Finland and the other neighbouring
countries -- but the world -- and are doing it with increased effectiveness.

Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]

Hunter Gray

www.hunterbear.org

Idaho Ain't Utopia By A Very Long Shot!

   February 28 2001


It's all well and good that Idaho governor Dirk Kempthorne has signed the
Juneteenth legislation placing Idaho on record as recognizing the end of
[chattel] slavery in the United States.  [Idaho became a state in 1890.]
Nice that he's done that.

But.  The governor, a Republican with an almost completely Republican
legislature, is certainly not supporting a minimum wage for Idaho
farmworkers -- wage slaves by any measure.  Kempthorne is a fervent
supporter of one of the most hysterical and costly and people-mangling
versions of the so-called "war on drugs."  There is increasing evidence that
Idaho state police -- with selected local cops -- and with FBI management
are conducting broad surveillance operations against Leftists, Native rights
activists, militant environmentalists, and other healthy dissidents.
Although, happily,  the much publicized Aryan Nations coven in North Idaho
has been in an increasing state of decline for the last couple of years,
racism is certainly very much  alive and well across the Gem State.  And,
just yesterday, the legislature declined to end the name "Squaw" as a not
uncommon state place name -- even though the Native nations and many others
have called for the end of that now very obviously pejorative term.  [And
there's more -- as there always is -- to be said!]  We keep fighting.
Hunter Gray  Pocatello  Idaho
Hunter Gray
www.hunterbear.org


 

Clinton and Peltier


Thanks very much, Louis, for the timely Clinton/Peltier post on this  sad --
very sad -- betrayal of justice.  There are many things -- sanguinary,
shadowy, and much much more -- that put the morally devoid Clinton into
focus.  But his letting  Leonard Peltier dangle -- a manifestation of his
utter lack of conscience and utter lack of courage, and a bone thrown to the
always essentially fascist FBI -- could not be more clear.  We have to, and
we will, keep fighting -- on every critical human rights/social justice
front.  The critical, enduring necessity of bona fide grassroots
organization, militant direct action, radical political approaches, creative
litigation -- and, for Native people (and others!), sensible and principled
coalitioning -- is underscored in eternal granite.  Hunter Gray (Hunterbear)
Hunter Gray
www.hunterbear.org

 

ADVICE -- WELL MEANT -- TO A RADICAL DISCUSSION GROUP

February 19  2001

Comrades: I belong to only a few Left discussion groups. Aside from the fact that, as a sociologist, I find the emergence of cyberspace communities a fascinating phenomenon [what would Tonnies say about this?),  I'm far more interested -- as a Left activist -- in learning, always learning, anything I can that will be useful in conducting the Struggle. And I'm interested in the sharp interchange of ideas, new looks at old vistas and old looks at new -- but, always ahead, Over The Mountains Yonder. And, while on this List as on others, there are people with whom I disagree on a point or two -- even and, hell, hopefully with passion -- I sense very kindred spirits, with life and vigour!  I'm sure we would all appreciate a chance to meet directly at some point and express our commitments to one another over a shot or two of good Scotch. And I know, too, that we, and all of us everywhere, who are "on the same side" are all going to have to learn to work together, trite as this "unity" pitch may sound, if the American radical movement is ever again going to be a really effective force and, ultimately, genuinely reach out toward the Sun to fulfill its humanistic mission. It seems to me that we should always fall out on the side of essentially maximum free expression of ideas -- and trust in our fine minds and hearts that we and others can effectively sort (relative) Truth from whatever else. On that note, I certainly suggest that, unless someone is really carrying a discriminatory and anti-human line (i.e., racism, sexism, homophobia etc.), or a completely "out of our discussional pond" series of lectures, or exhibiting obvious emotionally aberrant behaviour -- or savagely (a term I as a Native person don't ever use lightly) attacking others -- that we simply let things be. We obviously don't have to listen. There's an old hard-rock miner's saying: "People in Hell want ice-water.Let's go after some and get it!" This is one of the Lists I really like. Let's stick together, look to the Sun.   Hunter Gray   [Hunterbear] Hunter Gray www.hunterbear.org

 

Dr Borinski at Tougaloo [From Swastika to Jim Crow] and Phil Reno at Navajo Community College


Posted initially on January 30, 2001. Reposted on April 21, 2003 -- with this new intro:

Note by Hunterbear:

I initially made this post over two years ago -- when the PBS film, From
Swastika to Jim Crow, appeared -- dealing with the significant role of
Jewish refugee academics in Southern Black colleges.  This was a
relationship that benefited all good people! [And I posted it again over a
year ago on a couple of lists in connection with another, related topic.]
The film should be coming around again and, if you didn't see it initially,
do.  My post deals specifically with one refugee sociologist -- the
extraordinarily gifted and very, very human Dr Ernst Borinski, who I worked
with  closely at Tougaloo, saw very regularly in the years that followed,
and with whom I kept in close contact until his death.  He is very well and
very widely remembered.

I also deal with refugees from McCarthyism and specifically the radical
economist, Phil Reno, who was given a secure and congenial place at which to
work long and productively -- at Navajo Community College [now Dine'
College] -- and with whom I was also privileged to work closely for a
substantial period of time.   It has been just about 22 years to the day
since Phil [at the Shiprock campus of NCC] came to see me [at the main NCC
campus at Tsaile] and presented me with one of his tiny number of give-away
copies of his just out classic:  Mother Earth, Father Sky, and Economic
Development:  Navajo Resources and Their Use [University of New Mexico
Press.]   He died three weeks later at Farmington.  Our Redbadbear list
especially has on it a number of New Mexico activists of many ethnicities --
and One Struggle.

Among the major and historic radical figures at Phil's memorial service at
Shiprock was Craig Vincent who, with his wife Jenny, had once owned and
operated the famous San Cristobal Valley Ranch, deep in the Sangre de Cristo
mountains, close to Taos.  Always staunchly interracial and always radical,
the Ranch, in the '40s and '50s, was vacation and R & R host to a long flow
of  embattled Left activists. An enduring treasure of my family -- the
Summer, 1953 issue of the California Quarterly, devoted in its entirety to
the just filmed Salt of the Earth [with the original film script, many
photos, and interviews with principals], carries some interesting ads.  And
one states:  Vacation At San Cristobal Valley Ranch  /  Interracial  /  for
reservations write:  Craig and Jenny Vincent  San Cristobal, New Mexico.
Phil Reno, a great fighter, had spent a lot of time there.
======================

It's genuinely gratifying that writers and film people are providing solid
works concerning the significantly positive roles played by refugee Jewish
academics in Southern Black colleges [these almost always being those
schools under private auspices, rather than those under Southern state --
segregationist -- control. ] Just married, my wife, Eldri, and I arrived --
I to teach and she to work in the business office -- at Tougaloo Southern
Christian College [now simply Tougaloo College],   a few miles north of
Jackson, in the ominous summer of '61 and were immediately taken in tow by a
number of  very friendly Tougalooans -- and very much indeed by my
divisional chair, the cordial Dr Ernst Borinski.  [He was always "Dr
Borinski" to me.]  When I first saw him, short and stocky with a face that
was an almost consistently cordial smile, he wore a white -- very slightly
soup-stained -- shirt and a tie.  He never  seemed to  Eldri or to me or to
most others  to  ever age or change [ very rarely he wore a rumpled black
suit coat as a token concession to whatever formal occasion ] -- over the
almost quarter of a century, until his death, in which we remained good
friends.  His Social Science Lab at Tougaloo, and his  extraordinarily
stimulating Social Science Forums -- I remember, for example, the still not
that widely known Martin King as one Forum figure and also the quite left Dr
Otto Nathan  from New York as another; and Pete Seeger came  [and many other
fine activist and academic movers and shakers. ] And the Forums occasionally
drew a few Mississippi white students and a Mississippi white professor or
two as visitors -- this enraging the virulently racist Hederman press
[Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News] whose tirades had absolutely no
inhibiting effect  whatsoever on Dr Borinski or anyone else at Tougaloo.
[In an interesting commentary on human complexity and evolution of some
sort,  the  somewhat changing South  eventually saw the younger Hedermans
turn the utterly racist Jackson newspapers into at least fairly reasonable
things.  But they  then sold out to Gannett and moved to New York and bought
and still have the New York Review of Books.]  Dr Borinski, though never
referring to himself as an activist, was always very much indeed a teacher
activist. While he never seemed to consider himself a radical -- he
certainly always called me one, and always cordially so!  -- he was very
much indeed a radical in the best "to the roots"  socio-economic sense. As
we much younger folk moved in 1962 and 1963 to build the massive,
non-violent direct-actionist and  ultimately blood-dimmed Jackson Movement,
Dr Borinski was a very strong and consistently dependable back-up
supporter -- as he was of all human rights endeavours, whether in the Closed
Society of the Jim Crow South or anywhere else on the planet.  Dr Borinski
was also an excellent cook, whose luncheons at the Social Science Lab  were
and are certainly very well remembered by the countless fortunate -- and he
channeled all sorts of excellent European food concepts and tangibles
directly into Mississippi culture.  To the end of his life, he kept up
deeply and well with people.  He always gave excellent books to  many young
people; and my son, John, still has all of those he received [the last being
just before Dr Borinski's death], now all read by John's own children.

Another story to be told is the role of certain of the more courageous
private Black colleges in the South -- two examples of several were Tougaloo
and Alabama's Talladega College -- both under Northern church auspices and
affiliated with the United Negro College Fund -- in providing a
teaching/activist base for  very explicitly  radical professors.  And there
are other interesting and positive tales in this vein:  the first of the
Native-controlled tribal colleges in the United States was Navajo Community
College [now Dine' College], founded and led -- until his tragic death in
'72 -- by a very close friend of our family, Ned A. Hatathli [or Hatathali.]
Ned was quick indeed -- and very fortunate -- to hire Philip Reno, a Marxist
economist and very well known radical as faculty  member and as a general
consultant: Phil, a New Deal figure, had been viciously attacked by
Whittaker Chambers, had played a major role in the Henry Wallace/Progressive
Party campaign in Colorado and New Mexico, served as a key economist for the
left Cheddi Jagan administration in Guyana, worked for Mine-Mill, and much
much more.  I was very privileged to teach with Phil when I, too, wound up
at NCC -- in the 1978-81 period. [ I became chair of Social Sciences, based
at the main Tsaile campus and Phil was on the Shiprock campus -- but we were
always, of course, very closely linked in a variety of endeavours.] Like Dr.
Borinski, Phil Reno was a sharp and genuinely practicing  multi-cultural
entity and a very effective teacher/activist/radical in every fine sense.
And like Dr. Borinski at Tougaloo,  Phil Reno was  very deeply admired and
respected in the NCC community. Just before his death [May 1981], Phil
presented me with an inscribed copy of his just out work:  Mother Earth,
Father Sky, and Economic Development:  Navajo Resources and Their Use
(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1981).  [I'm happy to say that
this fine classic  has since been reissued by UNM Press.]  The outdoor
memorial service for Phil Reno was held at Shiprock (N.M.).  The invocation
was given  in Navajo and English by Dr Bahe Billy, a close friend of Phil's,
Dean of the Shiprock Campus, a traditional Navajo who was also a Mormon.  A
large number of Native people -- mostly Navajo but from other tribes as
well, were present along with academics  -- and the most  absolutely
fascinating  collection of old-time Western Reds ever gathered in such a
setting.  What a reunion!  What a time!  And the hot wind blew  very hot
sand thirty  to forty miles an hour.

Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
Hunter Gray
www.hunterbear.org

 

Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Local 598 Struggle Against Noranda/Falconbridge


 

Up-dating note, 2/21/01 by HG:  This extraordinarily hard-fought strike  -- one of Canada's major labor struggles in this epoch -- lasted seven months.  Union solidarity remained super-strong.  The strike ended during the week of February 19, 2001 -- with the Union victorious!

It was brutally obvious that the Company was  out to destroy the Union.

 

Readers and participants -- comrades, colleagues, combative friends -- in
Marxism Discussion would certainly be quite sympathetically interested
indeed in the long and bitter strike of 1250 production and maintenance
workers against Noranda/Falconbridge Nickel at Sudbury, Ontario.  The
strike, reaching now to the six months mark, should be of considerable
empathetic interest and concern to any radical, unionist, social justice
advocate.  But there's another noteworthy dimension:  Sudbury Mine, Mill and
Smelter Workers Local 598 was the one significant  local of International
Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers  in both Canada and the States which
refused, in 1967, to merge with that  then  right-wing and  then
traditionally venomous enemy of  the radical, democratic and militant
Mine-Mill:  United Steelworkers of America.   Mine-Mill Local 598 proceeded
very effectively on its own -- hooking up with CAW in 1993 -- and has
maintained its own, very distinctive Mine-Mill identity into our new
Millennium.  The strike at Falconbridge/Sudbury -- conducted in the face of
Company stone-walling and heavy use of "security" forces and scabs, is also
characterized, as always, by very strong and well organized Union solidarity
and effectiveness.  The Union,  among other things, is resisting a massive
Company attack on seniority, health and safety, Union representation on the
job.  And the Company is also seeking, through various devices,  to hire
non-union labor.

Check out the Union's excellent -- state of the art -- website which covers
in detail all facets of this significant worker struggle:
http://www.minemill598.com

Most, but perhaps not all our rambunctious discussion list, are at least
generally aware of the rich and colourful history of the International Union
of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. It was born, of course, as the Western
Federation of Miners in the sanguinary class conflict -- open warfare -- of
the Coeur d'Alene District of North Idaho in 1892-93.  Spreading rapidly
across the metal mining frontier West, WFM soon took on a socialist
perspective -- and produced a number of notable leaders: e.g., Vincent St.
John, William D. Haywood, Father Thomas Hagerty (a Catholic priest - yes
indeed!) who could shoot a tossed silver dollar with his .45 Colt, the
Cherokee Frank Little. Affiliating with the American Federation of Labor, it
soon found AFL effete and non-supportive and,eventually in 1905, WFM
launched the Industrial Workers of the World.  The hideous Idaho
Haywood/Moyer/Pettibone frameup case and trial soon thereafter (successfully
handled by the always capable defense attorney, Clarence Darrow),
temporarily removed  the consistently radical Haywood from the WFM/IWW, and
the WFM eventually split from IWW (leaving much of its radical leadership
with the Wobblies.)  It eventually rejoined AFL -- changing its name to
IUMMSW -- and, temporarily, became much more conservative -- waning away to
a tiny handful of Western locals in the 1920s and very early 1930s.
Reviving in the States in the Depression/Roosevelt era,  (and then in
Canada) it became very rapidly much more radical and was one of the founding
unions in Congress of Industrial Organizations.   Mine-Mill  consistently
blazed for its membership new trails against great odds and contributed in
many ways indeed to collateral social justice struggles in the United States
and Canada.  During the post-World War II Red Hunt, it was one of the left
unions forced out of CIO in 1950 by CIO's right-wing leaders ( e.g., Phillip
Murray and Steel, and the Reuther brothers.)  Even though Mine-Mill was
attacked  in the States and Canada more ruthlessly and relentlessly than any
union  since the IWW travail in the First War/First Red Scare epoch -- by
mining bosses, Federal and state/provincial governments, right-wing unions,
vigilantes et al. -- it survived as IUMMSW until the merger with Steel
(which had a few new faces in its leadership) in '67.

Many of the old Mine-Mill locals have been able to maintain the traditional
fighting spirit and inherent radicalism.  And Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter
Workers Union Local 598 -- its unique Mine-Mill identify very much intact --
certainly has!

People interested in the IUMMSW saga would find these  among the worthwhile
resources:  The super excellent  and enduring film, "Salt of the Earth,"
available via the Net; the fine book,  Mine Mill:  History of the
International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers in Canada -- Since
1895, by Mike Solski and John Smaller [Ottawa: Steel Rail Publishing, 1985.]
Under my "original" name of John R. Salter, Jr., I did a quite long and very
positive review essay on this book -- and Mine-Mill generally -- in "Labor
History,"  Fall 1986.  Ellen Schrecker's recent work, Many are the Crimes:
McCarthyism in America, [Boston: Little Brown, 1998] has a substantial
section on the persecution of IUMMSW in the United States from the late
1940s into the 1960s.  A concise and trenchant discussion  of that
persecution is a page from a long article of mine "IUMMSW: The Good, Tough
Fight"  (under my then name of John R. Salter, Jr.) which appeared in the
Marxist literary magazine, "Mainstream," in October 1960 -- and that page
can be found on my own current website  and specifically  is
http://www.hunterbear.org/repression.htm   For a very interesting discussion
of Mine-Mill in the Canadian West, see the quite recent book, Red Bait:
Struggles of a Mine Mill Local  [note by HG: the smelter local at
Consolidated Mining -- now Cominco --  Trail, B.C.] by Al King [Vancouver:
Kingbird Publishing, 1998.]

Hunter Gray (Hunterbear)

The Good Mine-Mill -- And The Vicious Role And Raids By Steel


The posting [ by the commendably provocative Louis]  from the quite recent
Nelson book, Divided We Stand: American Workers and the Struggle for Black
Equality, and specifically  the excerpt discussing Herbert Hill and the
NAACP and Phillip Murray and United Steelworkers of America -- with a
substantial mention of the Mine-Mill union [IUMMSW] -- stirs deep waters in
me.

Herbert Hill's consistently dedicated work as Labor Secretary for the NAACP
is obviously secure in History.  He was certainly one of the much better
people in the National Office, even as the organization became increasingly
tied to the narrow, oft-legalistic and frequently red-baiting orientation of
Roy Wilkins [Executive Director] and Gloster Current [Director of
Branches] -- who frequently undercut the grassroots efforts of such  staff
as Mississippi's Medgar Evers, actively worked to sabotage our  massive and
militant Jackson Movement in 1962-63, and carried on warfare [often
conniving with J. Edgar Hoover et al.] against more pervasively activist and
militant civil rights organizations: SNCC, CORE, SCLC, and SCEF.

I am not an admirer of the United Steelworkers of America as it existed in
the late 1940s [when I was still very much a kid in Arizona] or later in the
1950s and into the 1960s, when I had come of age and experience.  My
loyalties always were with the old International Union of Mine, Mill and
Smelter Workers  and they very much remain -- again, always -- with the
bright memory of  Mine-Mill:  pervasively democratic in the most basic
grassroots sense, courageous and militant, socially visionary, thoroughly
effective, and absolutely committed to  the fight for full racial equality.
[Much of the Mine-Mill membership was Mexican-American and a significant
dimension was Afro-American.  In addition, there were many Native people
very comfortably involved with Mine-Mill.] Conversely, the Steel union  in
the aforementioned time period -- whether in the United States or Canada --
was bureaucratic, Anglo in ethos, right-wing, given to any scurrilous
red-baiting or race-baiting approach that would advance its imperialistic
agenda against Mine-Mill: even, as in 1948 and 1949, IUMMSW had not yet,
with the other left unions, been actually forced out of CIO and the  [Canadian]
CCL  by cold warriors such as Phillip Murray.  After the
"expulsion" of the left unions, raiding and destruction were pursued year
after year by the right-wing unions. Again, in the Arizona mountains, I was
very well aware of the vigilante attacks which burned and destroyed the
union halls of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural, and Allied Workers of
America (one of the forced-out left unions) in the Salt River Valley; and
the mounting attacks by Steel,  the mining bosses, and thugs on Mine-Mill in
the copper country.  When Mine-Mill withstood these unremitting attacks
against it in its basic hard-rock,  metal mining jurisdiction, the U.S. [and
Canadian] Federal forces openly entered the conflict on the side of the
mining corporations and the Steel union.  The U.S. government from the
mid-1950s well into the 1960s, levied a continual series of "legal" attacks
against Mine-Mill [among them witch-hunting Congressional committees,
Taft-Hartley "anti-communist" charges, McCarran Act knives and hatchets such
as the so-called "Subversive Activities Control Board" -- whose spurious
"hearings" and other thrusts against Mine-Mill well into the 1960s were
endorsed by the Steel union and carried by the Kennedys. As time went on, a
very few somewhat "better" faces entered Steel's leadership --  e.g., "Wavy
Davy" McDonald [and his pretentious hair-do] was replaced as USWA president
by I.W. Abel.  Ultimately vindicated by high Federal courts, and always very
much so by the grassroots and by History, but with its fiscal resources
totally exhausted,  Mine-Mill merged with Steel in 1967 [save for the
Falconbridge local -- 598 -- at Sudbury, Ontario.] As indicated by me in a
quite recent post in our Discussion, Local 598  very effectively carried on
a completely independent  Mine-Mill existence until it joined CAW in '93 --
but has certainly kept its Mine-Mill identity very much intact and at this
point is most effectively involved in the  prolonged and bitter strike
against Falconbridge  Nickel at Sudbury.

The Mine-Mill merger with Steel saw the old Mine-Mill locals fight hard
within Steel to maintain their uniquely democratic and vigorous identity --
and those that have survived still do so.  Not all have survived. Some of
the most historic -- e.g., Morenci (AZ) Miners Union Local 616 -- were
destroyed in the disastrous Steel-led copper strike of 1983-84 against
Phelps-Dodge. In that tragic debacle, with still continuing ramifications,
Steel's traditional top-down "decision-making" and then Arizona Governor
Bruce Babbitt's  ["Scabbitt"] betrayal of Labor [with  heavy use of
anti-strike state police] played pure hell for the copper workers.  This
was, among other things, in sharp contrast to the extraordinarily
hard-fought industry-wide copper strike of 1959-just into 1960 -- led and
effectively won by hard-pressed  and consistently democratic Mine-Mill whose
top leadership was also, concurrently, in a Federal court at Denver fighting
the Federal Taft-Hartley  Non-Communist affidavit "Communist conspiracy"
charges. This case, initially started by the Federals and the mining
corporations in 1956, lay quiescent for three years until the great copper
strike, and was then deliberately brought to trial by the government in an
obviously union-busting maneuver.  Mine-Mill won that strike [and, years
later, won the "conspiracy" case after appeals] -- but, in 1983-84, Steel
lost the PD copper strike.

Anything that Herbert Hill and others could do to help USWA develop a much
better racial attitude and practice [Steel used to call Mine-Mill the
"N____r union"], was and is certainly all to the good.  But if you're going
to look at effective -- and, for a hell of a long time in the face of
hideous and often bloody attacks from many reactionary sides -- enduring and
visionary democratic unionism, then look to the example set by International
Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (and others in the Sunlight of
radicalism) and not to United Steelworkers of America.

A final word at this point:  In the 1949 attack on Mine-Mill in Alabama
[Tennessee Coal and Iron], a key Mine-Mill spokesperson, Maurice Eugene
Travis, International Secretary-Treasurer, was brutally assaulted by Steel
organizers and Klansmen in a Bessemer radio station -- losing the sight of
one eye.  Brother Travis -- who thereafter wore a black eye patch -- was
later attacked, again and again, by the U.S. government [ultimately winning
consistently in the appellate courts] but died in relative obscurity in
Northern California in 1985.  Mine-Mill carried on the fight in Alabama long
after 1949, a major leader being pioneer Mine-Mill Black civil rights
activist [later International Vice-President] Asbury Howard  of Bessemer.
Very much personally indebted to Maurice Travis [ among many other Mine-Mill
activists], I have a page regarding him on my current website
http://www.hunterbear.org/travis.htm   and, more substantially, have in my
personal possession considerable Travis material [some rare], including his
extensive and characteristically frank oral history and a number of
accompanying letters -- and am presently engaged in a quite long article on
his life and times and very positive vision and career.   Hunter Gray
[Hunterbear]

 

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