NEW!  CONTEMPORARY ACTIVIST

THOUGHTS  [HUNTER GRAY]

 

Magnolias in the Sagebrush:  Bo Gritz, Racism,

Posse Comitatus, Idaho, North Dakota

 

I sent this discussion of Gritz, North Dakota and Idaho racism, etc at the
request of a vigorously anti-racist friend who wished to post it, and did,
on an Internet discussion list.  [I also included a brief mention -- the
very little that I know -- of another "John Salter,"  apparently a resident
of Idaho in the early '90s, who appears to be a Posse Comitatus type.]

I sent this on May 22, 2001 -- almost a couple of weeks before the large,
traditional Klan cross was burned surreptitiously -- early Monday morning,
6/4 -- on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse.

Sometimes,  you can almost smell the magnolias in the sagebrush.     Hunter
Gray

Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2001 9:11 PM
Subject: Finished Copy: Gritz, Racism, Posse



Michael: From Hunter Gray [formerly John R Salter, Jr]


Thanks very much for the Bo Gritz etc stuff. I know something about him. I
was a
professor [and chair] in Indian Studies  at UND, Grand Forks -- and had been
for eleven years -- when he came to Bismarck and gave a talk in that
setting. It was  late Summer, 1992 and this appearance was in
connection with his Presidential effort. My
son, Peter, still in his early 20s,  was already a top reporter  for  the
state-wide
Bismarck Tribune  [ and soon to become its State Editor], and he covered the event. He was not impressed at all with
Gritz --quite the contrary -- and got much of his literature. He brought it
all to me -- since then, as always [and now] I'm a resource person on far
right/militia/racist
stuff. While some of the Gritz material had the usual right-wing populist
slant, other things went obviously deep into the militia circle,
survivalism, and, at least through very obvious implication, into racism.


That was disturbing enough for me -- but then Peter showed me a little gem,
a
self-professed "warrant," which called on "citizens" to arrest George Bush
[the other one]
and was signed by three men -- including a John Salter [horror of horrors] !
who lived somewhere in Idaho [no specific address given.] This was obviously
Posse Comitatus stuff, pure and simple, and that's a clearly racist outfit.
We had had plenty of
trouble with the Posse in North Dakota. I had just gotten to the state in
1981 when, soon after that, the Gordon Kahl shootout with US Marshals took
place at Medina, ND, fairly
close to us: everybody's tragedy -- several dead and several headed to
prison.


The Posse cropped up in all sorts of anti-Indian things. They were a major
problem for us - - along with some other racist outfits and just plain
hoodlums -- in our very intensive Native rights campaigns in the Northern
Plains in the 1980s and 1990s. But we won all of those tough campaigns --and
we won all the way!


All of these racist outfits -- and I put Gritz in that context -- have
sought to capitalize on the continuing major economic tragedy in the
Northern Plains: thousands of ranchers and farmers forced out, totally
losing everything. In 1989, the North Dakota State King Commission
awarded me its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award for both
historical and contemporary social justice activities. Then-Governor George
A. Sinner [Democrat] presented the award to me at a ceremony at Bismarck.
In the course of his remarks, he discussed the fact that, in the 1980s,
8,000 North Dakota ranchers and farmers had lost their land.


And it's all continuing. God knows how many small towns are dying -- almost
overnight.


To come back to the Gritz thing at Bismarck in 1992: I was Chairman of
the
Grand Forks Community Relations Committee. I took the Gritz stuff to our
next
meeting and we went over it carefully. We all agreed it was obvious that
these were new racist-group efforts to move into North Dakota. [ I took
some ribbing on
the "other John Salter" but I didn't and don't think it's funny.] Anyway,
through a variety of our mechanisms -- friendly journalists and other media
people, labor and Native rights activists, and other key and kindred
people -- we sent out all sorts of sensible alerts throughout North Dakota.
I personally contacted all the Indian reservations. Nothing shrill -- just
urged people to be sensibly vigilant and report any developments to us right
away. For awhile, we did get reports of Gritz and Posse-type literature
["warrants" calling for the citizen arrest of Janet Reno etc] being
disseminated and, when this occurred, we helped the people who were
contacting us with this information to spread the word vigilance-wise in
their respective areas. In the end, not much came of the Gritz/Posse
efforts in North Dakota, fortunately. But the Posse thing itself still
retains some of its traditional footholds in the state and thus remains a
problem.



   Peter, my intrepid journalist son, then went down to LaMoure Co, ND to
do a series of stories on the super-racist Winrod family of Missouri which
was causing considerable trouble in that southern part of ND:
inflammatory materials, constants threats, etc. His excellent series in the
Bismarck Tribune certainly helped get rid of them. But, before he went down
there, I presented him with my belated graduation present: a .357 Ruger
revolver. He still has it, of course. Eventually, with the same newspaper
chain, he went to Anaconda and Butte, Montana for awhile and then to
Lincoln, Nebraska, where he is now City Editor of the Lincoln Journal-Star
[same chain.] They've had some problems there with the super-crackpot
Richard Barrett, the Klan lawyer from Learned, Mississippi [near
Jackson] -- an old foe of mine -- who has been causing trouble via his
American Nationalist Movement.


Back to Bo Gritz: After looking over that raft of literature that Peter
brought me in 1992, and seeing the obviously Posse Comitatus stuff -- and
following his trail since -- I've certainly always viewed him as a racist.
He may be complex, confused -- but the racist side of him I think is far
from buried! I think it's pretty overt -- and, certainly, the people in his
circle are often very much in the racist wing of the militia thing.


Bo Gritz, I guess, is still in Idaho -- but I've seen little evidence of his
stuff around here in the southeastern part of the state. We have had some
potentially serious problems in this part of Idaho -- here at Pocatello --
and also over at Boise -- with the National Alliance. This is a West
Va-based, extreme extreme racist outfit, very much involved with the
"Identity Church" movement and the "Phineas Priesthood". Its literature is
passed out here, surreptitiously, at night -- and it seems to be making a
direct appeal to skin-head types [unemployment here has been rising, as it
is nationally.] There has been one recent fire-bombing here. The National
Alliance is moving its efforts into Idaho -- as the old faction-ridden,
beleaguered, and aging Aryan Nations entourage up in North Idaho -- Coeur
d' Alene region -- is fading from the scene, some moving over the state line
into Montana. There is also some sort of Ku Klux Klan unit digging in
around here. And the John Birchers have a surprising amount of strength.


We keep fighting -- as do you. All best, Mike.


In Solidarity, Hunter Gray [Hunterbear] Micmac/St Francis Abenaki/St Regis
Mohawk


Hunter Gray
www.hunterbear.org



Radical Outside Agitators, Inside Agitators, The South -- And More

Quick and friendly thoughts:  Outside Left  agitators -- fresh perspective,
creative tactics, elan [sensible pitchy-pine fires], vigorous visionary
reach -- are always needed:  if they're willing to work on the front lines,
shoulder to shoulder, with grassroots people -- in a genuinely egalitarian
fashion and always in the context of serving the people and not themselves.
There certainly are regional differences of all sorts in something as
oft-wildly pluralistic as the United States and any effective working
organizer has to be sensitive to those -- without becoming trapped in
insular romanticism.  The emergence of strong and enduring ["oak wood
fires"]  local leadership -- inside agitators -- is critical in any
effective campaign and the long, long pull.  Each agitator dimension --
outside and inside -- can draw out the enhanced best in each.  For the
Southern Student Organizing Committee of the 1964 era into much of the rest
of the '60s, I have only very good words and thoughts.  I knew many, was in
on their initial development, and am still in touch with a couple.  Young
white Southerners, frequently SNCC veterans, they often ran great personal
risks and one of their very major contributions, from their consistently
grassroots perspective, was to remind everyone of the never-ending necessity
of working creatively and in an [oft-quietly]  genuinely radical fashion
with workingclass -- and student -- Anglos:  first, because these were and
are people who need -- as people -- constructive involvement by radicals;
and, secondly, these are often the main complex of human transmissional
taproots for racism and other anti-people poisons.  SSOC kids, when they
were outside of their respective piece of the South -- a general section of
this general land  that is indeed  "many Souths," including a seemingly
endless flow of "New Souths" -- were outside agitators [Neshoba County sees
Jackson, Mississippi as "outside" as Southwest Georgia would see Atlanta or
Northeastern North Carolina sees Greensboro]; and frequently, too,  SSOCers
would work in their own home corners.  It is, of course, the same fight
across the South and across the United States -- and in an obviously global
sense as well -- and it's my experience that grassroots people, very
cognizant of at least the injustice they are experiencing -- if not, at that
point, of the causes of such -- certainly are quite willing to take
committed, knowledgeable, and shoulder-to-shoulder assistance from any
honourable source.  "We'll take all the help we can get," is something I've
heard many times -- and it's critical that that help be genuinely radical:
deep, high, far-reaching.
And, for me, a final cordially wicked remark:  We Southwesterners -- Arizona
and New Mexico -- often see Texans as folks who come into our Section and
look down at us like we -- we! -- were all poor relations.

Think that one over,  amigos.

In Solidarity, always -- Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]

Hunter Gray
www.hunterbear.org

 

In the waning days of 2000                                                     Eastern Idaho

                                                                                           

I became a radical activist when I was still a Teen  -- quickly growing into a radical activist/organizer/writer --  and, very early on indeed, I learned the accuracy of the old Native saying, "When you fish for trout, expect to be bitten by mosquitoes."  Forthwith, I also learned the great merit in the old-time Wobbly (Industrial Workers of the World) adage, "Better to be called Red than be called Yellow" -- and I've always held very firmly to that and I always will. I could write a very large book about the things I've been called over these many decades -- variants of Red-baiting  -- sometimes openly by "class enemies" ["goons, ginks, and company finks" etc] but often in surreptitious and clandestine fashion by whispering cowards who scurry about in the shadows -- usually trying to find dupes to carry their skull & crossbones potions.  As virtually all of you are aware -- or will be -- this Website carries an enormous amount of data regarding myself, my family background (including genealogy), my radical vision and activities and work and writings, and a hell of a lot more. It also very much involves the hopes and social justice aspirations and  the courage of many others.   This all puts us in very clear perspective.  I learned long ago that accuracy corrects calumny but it usually doesn't bring personal justice.  The social justice trail can have more challenges than the Grand Canyon but I have no absolutely no regrets.  I've always heeded the Wobbly adage, "Keep Fighting!" -- and I always will.  Fortunately, I am, as an adversary once commented,  "a pretty big thug."

I also firmly believe that most of Humanity is pretty good  most of the time.

Fraternally/In Solidarity -  Hunter Gray

 

 

A LETTER TO YOUNG RADICALS [One of the more brightening things in life is interacting with young people.  This is a very recent early morning letter of mine to a  sharp, young radical with a developing local group. I'm responding to a number of good questions.  I've removed any identifying names and have otherwise edited it slightly.]  12/20/00

 

Again, very good to hear from you.  It certainly sounds like
you and your colleagues are off to a promising start.  My basic advice with
respect to a group would be to "hang loose," avoid rigidity (this can keep
people away), take your time in developing an affiliation with a national
organization.  On that score, you're "shopping around" and that makes good
sense.  There are many very good national groups -- none of them especially
large at this point -- but certainly honorable and committed. Some of them
have specific youth groups within and around their basic structure. Again,
taking your time and shopping around makes very good sense. And there's
nothing wrong with being "independent," either.

Local issues are always extremely important -- both to the "cause"  in the
sense of serving Humanity and, in close and obvious conjunction with that,
stimulating the positive growth of your group.  You can give the local
issues your basic philosophical/ideological thrust -- but you don't want to
lay the ideology on too thickly.  Blend it in in creative and effective
ways.

In the "old days," a developing radical newspaper was done on mimeograph
machines: messy ink, breakdowns, etc.  Now, xerox approaches make it much,
much easier -- cleaner, faster and essentially less expensive.  A developing
paper should, as a I mentioned a moment ago, focus primarily on local
issues -- with your ideological viewpoint blended in creatively,
effectively.  You can also have a piece or two dealing directly with the
"bigger picture:"  national and/or world events -- or even, going "over the
mountains yonder," to the utopian goal you envision.

It's critical, with any paper, to avoid packing it too full of things.  The
stories should not be overly long,  must be well written (good organization
and grammar), and, in my opinion, should avoid profanity -- at least the
crude stuff. While dealing with issues, it's always good to avoid really
personal attacks on adversaries -- tempting as those sometimes are! [Always

try to take the High Road.] The paper should have a small, working committee
and an editor who can edit -- do rewrite, if necessary.  A general image of
neatness -- adequate margins, etc -- is critical.  The paper should come out
with fairly predictable regularity.

Don't worry about religion or the lack of it. I'd view it as a personal
thing. Marx was (is) charting general directions. "Opiate," as I've
understood it, meant to him the machiavellian use of religion to dull the
concerns and block the action of the people.  Like I think he was shooting
at the oppressive Church: e.g., the Church in pre-Revolutionary Mexico or
Russia -- and many other places, then and often now. On the other hand:  the
very indigenous and radical American movement, the old Industrial Workers of the
World (Wobblies), while attacking the misuse of religion as "pie in the
sky", always viewed religion as a purely personal matter -- and many of the
IWW members were believers of one kind or another.  Others were agnostics --
simply saying they had no basic position one way or the other. And others
atheists.  A fine old union in which I was deeply involved -- International
Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers -- was very radical in traditions
and certainly had a radical leadership.  Most of the Mine-Mill members in
the West  were church members: frequently Catholic, often Mormon. In Alabama,
the Mine-Mill members were frequently Black, and Baptists or Methodists.
Again, a personal thing. The Southern Civil Rights Movement of the '50s and
'60s had very substantial radical dimensions -- and was also explicitly
religious for the most part!  Liberation Theology in, say, Latin America
today, blends Marxism and Marxist-Leninism with radical Christian thought.

One of the very best American radical films is "Salt of the Earth" -- made
by my old union (Mine-Mill) back in the mid-1950s.  Based on a very long and
bitter zinc miners' strike in southwestern New Mexico, it deals very
effectively -- using a somewhat fictionalized approach but sticking to the
essential historical facts -- with worker issues, minority issues (most of
the strikers were Mexican-American), and women issues (women took over the
picket line -- and the strike was won -- after a court injunction was issued
against the Union itself.)  Salt won many awards -- including some of the
very top international film awards -- but, for many many years, was
blacklisted in this country and is often termed, "the only U.S. blacklisted
film."  It's a genuine work of art, can't be found at a video store, but can
be easily gotten now on line for a little more than $20.00.  It's one
of the finest organizing/educative films. I've used it several hundred
times.


The best single piece of advice I ever got on radical matters came from an
old friend, the veteran IWW (Wobbly) editor, Fred Thompson -- a great guy.
I was hot-eyed, just barely into my twenties, a developing organizer and
doing, also, a lot of radical writing.  To me, Fred said, "To be really
radical, you don't have to rant and rave.  Just describe accurately the
massive injustice that exists all around you and sensibly discuss basic
curative approaches and solutions."  I pass that along with a tip of my
Stetson hat to Fred (who died at almost 90, in 1987.)

Again, certainly good to hear from you.  You all are off and rolling.
By all means, keep in touch.  Fraternally/In Solidarity - Hunter





Natives, Resistance, Nader etc. et .al

[John Hunter Gray, sent this message to portside from Idaho
- Moderator]

This is a comment on Native American U.S. presidential
election views and  some related matters. Quickly, I speak
only for my rather large immediate  family (truly a "mini-
horde") and connections, when I say that I, and  almost
all of us, are definitely voting for Nader/LaDuke. We have,
however,  picked up scattered messages (mostly forwards)
that vigorously encourage  Indian people to vote for Gore.
An argument given "for Gore" -- as yet not  detailed as far
as I know -- tells us that Bush seeks to "let the states
handle Indian affairs." First, I state and categorically,
that the enduring  common denominator of U.S. and Canadian
Indian policy is to eliminate Native  tribal nations and
cultures and Native people -- and to secure remaining
Native American land and natural resources. (This is as
axiomatic as the  existence of the class struggle.) And
this is certainly the plight of  Fourth World people in the
Hemisphere and much of the rest of the world.   Secondly,
any state (U.S.) or provincial (Canada) involvement in
Native  affairs is never anything except dangerously
problematic from Native American  perspectives and
experience.


That said, however, any administration callous, venal, or
foolish enough to  seek to turn Indian affairs over to
states would immediately face a long  existent complex of
very substantial obstacles. The first, and most basic  of
all, would be -- as it certainly has been in the past --
the extremely  determined and vigorous opposition of Indian
people ourselves: Native  grassroots, tribal nations,
pan-Indian (inter-tribal) organizations and  movements and
linkages, (and our allies), to anything even hinting of
this!  The second major obstacle is the fact that Native
American relationships in  the United States are in almost
every case Federal relationships -- grounded  on a solid
complex of tribal nation/Federal treaties. These rest, in
the  U.S. legal context, firmly within Article 6, Section 2
of the U.S.  Constitution -- which states, of course, that
U.S. treaties (all treaties)  are part of the "supreme law
of the land." (And, as such, these treaties  occupy a
position higher, say, than that of a Congressional act --
and far,  far above any doings by any state.) Native people

are very well aware that  any incursion into Native treaty
rights points toward "termination" of  tribal nations,
land, resources -- and people -- and we have no intention
of letting this ever occur. For all of the shifts of the
U.S. Supreme Court  over the epochs, Native American
treaties have remained essentially solid:  e.g., Worcester v
Georgia (1832) -- hideously violated, of course, by Andrew
Jackson -- but still a critical legal headwaters for
Native/Federal treaty  rights:

  From Chief Justice John Marshall in Worcester: "...The
  Cherokee Nation,  then, is a distinct community,
  occupying its own territory, with boundaries  accurately
  described, in which the laws of Georgia can have no
  force, and  which the citizens of Georgia have no right
  to enter, but with the assent of  the Cherokees
  themselves, or in conformity with treaties, and with the
  acts  of Congress. The whole intercourse between the
  U.S. and this Nation is, by  our Constitution and laws,
  vested in the government of the United States."  [I
  should add that, in a few United States Native American
  cases, tribal  nations are covered by state treaties
  (these going back to the Colonial,  pre-Revolutionary
  War period) and, in very recent times, some tribal
  nations  have become Federalized by acts of Congress or

  Federal litigation ( e.g.,  land claims cases involving
  the Indian Non-Intercourse and Trade Act of 1790 ) --
  but even these Federal relationships, which are short of
  formal treaties  (Congress stopped treaty making in
  1871; but this did not invalidate, of  course, any pre-
  existent treaties) are viewed as being extremely strong
  in  the legal sense. And again, I reiterate, that in
  any of these Native cases  -- the great many Federal
  treaty situations, the few state treaty instances,  the
  recently Federalized tribes (even the as yet "non-
  Federally recognized"  tribes) -- Native people will
  fight on all fronts to protect their rights!


This is certainly not to say that attacks on Native treaty
rights by  corporate business/land interests and their
political servants etc. et al. --  in both major political
parties, certainly) -- do not continue right along.   A
relatively recent and continuing example would be Public
Law 280 (1953)  which sought, with success in a few cases,
to replace Federal criminal  jurisdiction ( the still
pervasive Major Crimes Act of 1885) with state
jurisdiction. But even PL280 can be reversed and some of
the relatively   few tribes affected have been able to
achieve this. [The basic answer to the  on-going confused
complex of Native tribal/nation criminal (and other)
jurisdiction is, in the opinion of this writer -- and many
many more Indian  people -- to see the tribal nations with
full sovereign jurisdiction over  their people, land, and
resources. ] It should certainly be noted that the  very
unfortunate 1988 Federal Indian Gaming Act (supported by
both major  political parties) vis-a-vis Native casino
development and state tax  schemes), requires Indian tribes
and state governments to reach an accord  before the Federal
government will "certify" the Native casinos as "valid."
This, of course, is tantamount to letting some state
jurisdiction in "the  back door" and this maneuver is facing
an increasing amount of shrewd Native  civil disobedience
and litigation.


Again, the major powers always -- in both the U.S. and
Canada -- seeking an  end to the "Indian/Native problem" and
coveting always Native American land  and resources, are the
corporate and land interests and their mainline  political
allies. This is, again, as axiomatic as the existence of the
class  struggle. And, just as basic, is the fact that
oppressed people -- whoever  they are, anywhere -- have to
organize and fight with cunning and  determination and
militancy to safeguard their rights and to expand those
rights: always and always toward the Sun.

John Hunter Gray (John R. Salter, Jr.) "Hunterbear" -- an
intinerant  half-blood Indian and radical organizer who
taught Federal Indian Law for  13 years -- and, who for
purposes of socialist identification is a member of  DSA and
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.
(Surviving in Idaho.)

 

Radicals -- and Troops -- in the South, and Other Things



It's personally  very difficult to write on this topic with brevity and I'll touch on just a few high spots. My wife, Eldri, and I spent six years, very deeply involved in the Movement,  in various parts of the hard-core South:  1961 well into 1967 -- a time period that covered a great deal of courage, sacrifice, blood,  funerals, and eventually some sunlight.  Initially, I was a professor at Tougaloo College, Advisor to the Jackson Youth Council of NAACP, a prime organizer of the massive Jackson Movement of 1962-63 and its strategy committee chair; later I was  a grassroots Field Organizer for the  radical Southern Conference Educational Fund; and then, in the very final period of our Southern sojourn, an organizer of militant grassroots anti-poverty campaigns.  I was arrested and beaten -- along with many many others  indeed -- on numerous occasions.  My home was shot up and I was seriously injured and almost killed in a rigged auto wreck. ( Although I practiced tactical non-violence, I certainly make no apologies to anyone for carrying my faithful .38 Special Smith & Wesson revolver.)  Into the Southern Movement of the 1950s and 1960s came earlier activist and some  left radical legacies: Wobbly traditions in the very old days, the sharecropper unions and CIO efforts in the 1930s, the then continuing Mine-Mill [I.U.M.M.S.W.] legacy from the 1930s onward (particularly in the iron mining sections of Alabama), the Southern Conference for Human Welfare (predecessor of SCEF) in the '30s and '40s especially, and much more.  Some of the people who soldiered in the emergent Southern Movement of mid-century were old-time left radicals, and  some were much newer and  much younger aspirants (in due course, some  Red Diapers). The great majority of the people in the Movement -- wherever they came from, locally or otherwise -- had no especially radical background but many certainly had those instincts -- had to have them! -- and some, as the struggles and the Sixties moved on, did emerge as consciously -- but usually non-sectarian -- left radicals. (In the cruel and valiant realities of the Southern Struggle, an ecumenical perspective (radical or religious or both) made damn good sense.

 

Most of those -- consciously radical or otherwise -- who were actually on the front lines (as well as some canny and experienced observers elsewhere) had either no faith in the Federal government or had very, very limited confidence in it.  Little Rock was before my Southern time but the Eisenhower administration was, after all, the outfit which failed -- indeed, almost always refused -- to enforce the 1954 Brown desegregation decision and thus gave the white Citizens' Council and Klan movements the breathing and moving room to organize  widespread and oft-bloody massive resistance.  The Eisenhower action at Little Rock came belatedly; and stemmed in part from Federal fears of an out-of-control racial fire and  also from the concerns of "sophisticated" business interests vis-a-vis "a bad business image" for Arkansas.  In the 1962 Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) situtation -- the admission of the first Black student (Mr. Jim Meredith)  to any previously all-White Mississippi educational institution at any level -- the Kennedys, who had dragged their feet again and again on the Southern civil rights issues, dallied endlessly in a game of political patty-cake with utterly racist Governor Ross R. Barnett and his circle of hard-line segs.  The result was a rapidly insurrectionary Mississippi which saw many killings of Blacks in the summer and fall of 1962, as the crisis at the University moved to a sanguinary climax.  I, myself, saw the rapidly growing armed White mobs milling at Jackson in mid and late September, harangued by Council fire-brands -- climaxing as an armed throng of many thousands in downtown Jackson just hours before the bloody Ole Miss riot erupted at Oxford to the north.  Federal marshals and thousands of Federal troops came too late to prevent the deaths of two, injuries to hundreds, the destruction of much of the University.  With their eye on the '64 elections, the Kennedys dragged their feet on civil rights issues thereafter and, in the very bloody Jackson Movement days in the spring of 1963 (the most massive  grassroots upheaval in the state's history) did everything they could -- through the Justice Department and the utterly and consistently vicious FBI -- to undercut the militantcy of the Jackson campaign.  The Johnson administration was certainly no better.

 

There were very positive changes which eventually emerged: breaking the hard-lines of resistance to social change, the achievement of the right to organize and dissent and the  development of widespread local leadership, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965,  the beginnings of desegregation and some integration, widespread Black political participation and activism, an end to most open terrorism, a basis for interracial and democratic unionism.

 

But the really radical promise of the Southern Movement of the 1950s and 1960s -- the emergence of bona fide socialism did not, of course, materialize.  The social class dichotomies of the Southern Movement,  joined by the integrationist/separatist debates -- all of this in the context of these initial positive victories, much tokenism, and continuing massive economic poverty -- combined to fragment much of the solidarity which had initially characterized the Movement in its springtime.  Behind the scenes, the never-ending manipulative maneuvers of stratospheric corporate liberalism and its more localized appendages, the War,  the machiavellian usage of the Economic Opportunity Act -- and  the FBI and its Cointelpro poisoning and hatchet-jobbing -- all had an extraordinarily destructive impact. Much of this all was certainly going on nationally on a myriad of fronts.

 

When the grassroots organization, extraordinary  courage and sacrifice, and the solidarity  and militancy  of the Southern Movement created massive pressures on the status quo,  "cost factors" forced the Southern economic power structure [which was always, even in the more provincial settings such as Mississippi, involved with all sorts of national and international capitalist dimensions] to make grudging concessions to the 20th Century,  and forced the Federal government into taking some positive action.  All of us involved in the Southern Movement -- and all of those who really supported us, whatever their brand of radicalism or whatever might be -- helped to directly make a very substantial beginning and helped ignite and fan all sorts of other movements.  But there is a long way to go on all social justice fronts -- and certainly to the goal of bona fide socialism.  Every movement -- Native rights, radical, labor, civil rights and all others reaching to the Sun -- is  built on the wreckage and remains of its predecessors. 

 

It's time now to look ahead -- "many looks to the future." The Enemy remains the same and very much at hand;  and the Goal -- genuine democracy and socialism -- shines Over The Mountains Yonder.  And we can all get there -- and I'm confident that we will.

 

Hunter Gray (Hunter Bear)    My own book -- under my original name of John R. Salter, Jr. -- on an important part of the Southern struggle is Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism (Krieger, 1987.)  I'll be happy to recommend many other solid ones should anyone wish to contact me directly.

 

 Hunter Gray (Hunterbear)
www.hunterbear.org

Note by Hunter Gray (formerly John R Salter, Jr):   This is a Southern Movement-related excerpt drawn from the essay, Trust The People (Kopel) --

n the 1950s and 1960s, a new civil rights movement began in the South. White supremacist tactics were just as violent as they had been during Reconstruction. Blacks and civil rights workers armed for self-defense.
John Salter, a professor at Tougaloo College and chief organizer of the N.A.A.C.P.'s Jackson Movement during the early 1960s, wrote, "No one knows what kind of massive racist retaliation would have been directed against grass-roots black people had the black community not had a healthy measure of firearms within it." Salter personally had to defend his home and family several times against attacks by night riders. After Salter fired back, the night riders fled.
The unburned Ku Klux Klan cross in the Smithsonian Institution was donated by a civil rights worker whose shotgun blast drove Klansmen away from her driveway.
State or federal assistance sometimes came not when disorder began but when blacks reacted by arming themselves. In North Carolina, Governor Terry Sanford refused to command state police to protect a civil rights march from Klan attacks. When Salter warned Governor Sanford that if there were no police, the marchers would be armed for self-defense, the Governor provided police protection.

 

 

a word on Cochran and the American Socialist



This is a friendly note with respect to Bert Cochran et al and the American Socialist.  I'm a fairly recent reader of the Marxism Digest and appreciate the just issued, positive perspective on Cochran and his journal.  In the mid-1950s, I was a young half-blood Native American (barely into my twenties) in my native state of Arizona -- an aspiring radical,  a member of what remained of the I.W.W., and active in the always courageous and hard-fighting Mine-Mill.  I came across a copy of the American Socialist  and in late 1955 subscribed.  I had already begun to write radical stuff (that excellent Wobbly editor, Fred Thompson, provided first-rate tutelage at many points -- e.g., "to be really radical, you don't have to rant and rave.  You have to accurately describe  the massive injustice all around you and  sensibly discuss basic curative approaches and solutions.")  Then and now, never a sectarian, I very much appreciated the essentially ecumenical approach exemplified by the American Socialist and finally, in February of 1957, I sent Cochran two things I'd written:  The first, "Navaho Indians: Oil And Mining Buzzards Hover Overhead," dealt with the savage (a word I don't use lightly)  invasion of Navajo Nation lands by a veritable army of mineral seizing capitalist predators -- under the auspices of the ever obliging Bureau of Indian Affairs which, among its other cynical reasons, was utilizing every resource at its command to force Indian people (including the Navajo) from their lands via "urban relocation" -- with the ultimate goal being, of course, the full-fledged seizure of what remained of Native territory.  My second piece, drawing from things (anti-racist,  civil liberties, student rights etc. ) going on even in such closed citadels as Arizona -- as well as elsewhere, none of this really reported broadly -- predicted widespread student activism within a very few years.  I sent the two pieces to Cochran together and immediately got an extremely cordial, receptive letter of substance (which regrettably I did not save; what kid does at that age?).  He welcomed the Navajo piece eagerly (subsequently publishing it in September, 1957.) The other he rejected, very sadly, saying he simply could not share my great optimism.  (As a result of the Navajo piece, George Shoaf and I struck up a hearty correspondence.)Years later, about 1964, fresh from teaching at Mississippi's Black Tougaloo College and being privileged by History to play a leading role in the blood-dimmed Jackson Movement of 1962-63, I was a field organizer in the hard-core South for the commendably radical Southern Conference Educational Fund -- then headed by that always optimistic, excellent Left activist, Jim Dombrowski.  Out of the blue came a short note from the ever gracious Cochran.  With immediate and explicit reference to my long ago "rejected" piece on predicted,  widespread  student activism, he said "You were right. And how glad I am you were!"  By then,  I had already done much more writing across the Left:  e.g., pieces for the  first rate literary magazine Mainstream (with its very fine editor Charles Humboldt and such excellent people as the  very effectively enduring Dr. Annette Rubinstein),Mississippi Free Press, Southern Patriot (SCEF), etc.  Cochran had found the Navajo tragedy revealing and crucial, had encouraged me to keep with it, and I continued that story over the years -- with emphasis on the  super-hideous spectacle of surfacing radioactive horror (from both uranium mining and refining and Desert Rock nuclear testing);  and those pieces appeared in such journals as Labor Notes, Third World Socialists, New Perspectives (World Peace Council.)  And -- always  an organizer and always a left socialist, those dimensions forever!  -- I went on to write -- and do to the present moment -- for such fine journals as Against the Current.  As in the old Woody Guthrie song, "many years have come and gone" since those far away days in the Arizona of the '50s -- but the forthright and always encouraging and basically optimistic Bert Cochran, like a number of fine Left editors then and now -- remains firmly on the Sunny slope of my memory.  He took  the time -- like Humboldt and others did -- to encourage a young Arizonian in that still lonely setting: just before the Great New Decade rose up.  It has seemed to me, very much these past several years or so, that those times -- the mid and late '50s -- were much like our present trek (but now we have the refreshing upheavals of Seattle, and beyond, and Nader.)  To an Indian, nothing is ever really coincidental.  Perhaps there is indeed some intriguingly positive and special meaning in the fact that we are once again hearing of Cochran, his vision, his courage and honesty,  his excellent journal.  Solidarity to All.  John Hunter Gray (John R. Salter, Jr.)  Pocatello, Idaho

John Hunter Gray (Hunter Bear)


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