ORGANIZER 24: 

 

ILLINOIS DEATH PENALTY COMMUTATIONS:  INTERCHANGE  [HUNTER GRAY  1/13/03]

SOME SOUTHERN CAMPAIGNS:  VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA -- AND A NOTE ON HOWARD MELISH AND A NEW YORK CITY UNCF SPEAKING TRIP [HUNTER GRAY  11/28/02]

 

 

ILLINOIS DEATH PENALTY COMMUTATIONS:  INTERCHANGE  [HUNTER GRAY  1/13/03]

Note by Hunterbear:

As far as I can tell, I'm the only person on ASDnet [DSA] who has commented
on the extraordinary and staggeringly significant positive action by
Governor George Ryan of Illinois in clearing his state's death row -- and
sparing over 170 human beings from state murder. The implications of this
are enormous and global and enduring. In a discussion of this on another
list, Marxism Discussion, I made two posts.  The initial one responded to
another member of Marxism, Lou Paulsen.  I posted both of those on ASDnet.
[I'm attaching my posts here once again.]

And this, from Michael Pugliese, was the one and only response.  It -- the
epitome of pure shabbiness and venal shallowness --  and the general ASDnet
silence on issues of racism and ethnocentrism and the death penalty [there
are the few great souls who always do speak]  voice volumes about ASDnet's
sterility and, given the many collaterally negative dimensions, about the
increasingly irrelevant nature of much of DSA.

Pugliese:

"Ah yes, Lou Paulsen of the Chicago branch of the
Workers World Party.
   That Lou was on Doug Henwood's lbo-talk list for a
while last yr. Under a multi-tendency polemical
barrage
from my friend, Thomas Seay, an ex-maoist from the CWP
now a libertarian socialist who translates texts by
Toni Negri, anarchist Chuck Munson of the Black Bloc,
Dennis Perrin who used to work for the media watchdogs
FAIR, me and many others, Paulsen was unable to defend
such historical/ideological positions of the WWP as
their support for the suppression of the Tienanmen
Square students, the crushing of the Hungarian Revolt
in '56, support for Milosevic..."

My post and the matter at hand had nothing to do with Tienamen Square,
Hungary, Milosevic.  But, like the old song from my high school days, "Put
another nickel in . . ."

Lou Paulsen, BTW, is a very nice person -- thoughtful, committed -- who,
some time back, wrote one of the most sensitive and human pieces I've ever
read anywhere on the pathos involved in the death of an elderly, close
relative .


Note by Hunterbear:

Fascinating speculation, Lou [Paulsen].  My take on Ryan is that, assuming
he's Catholic, the increasingly vigorous and rapidly broadening anti-death
penalty position taken by the Vatican and the Bishops  could be a very big
piece in his personal motivational process.  On another point, North Dakota
Gov John Hoeven [also a Republican] and a state business delegation
 visited Cuba late last year as well.  They had a great time.
It's also, of course, a warm place.


Note by Hunterbear:

To Jim Farmelant -

It's  possible that you know much more than I about the Governor Altgeld
1893 pardons of the surviving Haymarket victims of hideous judicial
frame-up.   However, I do know very well indeed that a major figure active
for years on behalf of the victims and their families was William Mackintire
Salter [of Cambridge, MA and Silver Lake, NH], a founder [with Felix Adler]
of the Ethical Culture Society.  Salter, a close colleague of Jane Addams
and leader of the Chicago Ethical movement, was the man who adopted my
full-blooded Native father in what became a problematic adoption [to put it
mildly.]  Salter was a leader in the almost all-White Indian Rights
Association and, in 1909, was a signer of the call to organization of NAACP.
In any event, I do know from his papers and other materials, that he fought
long and hard and courageously to build the kind of pressure that led to the
Haymarket pardons.  He did so at considerable risk to himself.

I've always been personally interested in this and am now especially, since
later on this year, in the spring, I'll be speaking on William M. Salter,
his life and meaning, and especially that for our family at a gathering
organized by the Ethical Humanist Society of Greater Chicago.

As Ever - H

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



SOME SOUTHERN CAMPAIGNS:  VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA -- AND A NOTE ON HOWARD MELISH AND A NEW YORK CITY UNCF SPEAKING TRIP [HUNTER GRAY  11/28/02]

Thanks much, Bill [Mandel], for not only the kind comment -- but also for
your reiteration of your extraordinary trip to Richmond on behalf of the
Martinsville Seven.  I've returned to the reference you cited and I'm
posting this for the benefit of our two lists.

In the context of that,  the two Lumbee Indians who came to provide support
is significant -- but not surprising.  But the presence of Indians is often
ignored in these accounts, even today.

I rarely got to Virginia during my civil rights period  [1961-67]  but did
[I had recently become  SCEF Field Organizer] spend a good number of days in
southside Nansemond County [Suffolk], in the fall of '63, assisting Moses
Riddick in his successful break-through campaign for a major county board of
supervisors position.  The race was of both state-wide and regional
importance since Riddick was running against the major pillar of the Byrd
Machine on the Southside, N.T. Poarch.  Predominantly Black labor unions at
Suffolk -- especially in the peanut industry -- were a key factor.  Northern
financial and other support was provided via a fine SCEF colleague of mine,
the Rev.William Howard Melish -- the very left [and very "controversial"]
Episcopal clergyman, Brooklyn N.Y. [I have a strong hunch you will recognize
his name. He was Dr DuBois' executor. He was also a recipient, in the early
'50s, of the Stalin Peace Prize.]

Anyway, amid constant rumours of imminent assassination attempts on
Riddick's life  and considerable tension, the campaign moved vigorously to
its wild climax. There was  a last-ditch major effort at Poarch's all-white
precinct to maneuver  "irregularities."  I upset that when I got inside the
voting place for a moment and saw the  huge, unlocked -- note, unlocked --
ballot box, before being forced out. But I got the word to Riddick's
headquarters forthwith via a kid who was my runner.  The sheriff -- White,
of course, but sensing Riddick's imminent victory [Black turnout was
subsequently huge] -- had secretly switched sides just the previous night in
a fascinating meeting -- a harbinger of the New & Pragmatic South.  While I
watched from the required- yardage-distance at the polling place, the
sheriff arrived with his White deputies [he was soon to hire Black ones as
well], holding up a huge padlock for my purview which he then applied inside
to the ballot box.  Riddick won -- and went on to other significant
political things.

But he never forgot the help we had given him in his campaign.  South of
there, down inside North Carolina and in its farflung Northeastern Black
Belt  complex of many counties, the setting was very Deep South: basically
plantation-rural [the one big industry was the extremely reactionary J.P..
Stevens Textile operation at Roanoke Rapids in Halifax County],  pervasively
and rigidly segregated, poverty-stricken, Klan-infested.  Virtually no
Blacks or Indians had been able to register and vote in that entire region
since Reconstruction ended.  It also had some of the most mysterious swamps
I've ever seen [e.g., White Oak Swamp.]  We organized and fought a major and
very long campaign there -- using much direct action, boycotts, intensive voter
registration, creative litigation --  going from county to county across the
Black Belt [We were assisted in several major Federal court battles by
lawyers Bill Kunstler, Arthur Kinoy, Morty Stavis and Phil Hirschkop.]
Another excellent SCEF colleague of mine, Miss Ella J. Baker, who, as you
know, was SNCC's founder and its advisor and herself originally from
Littleton in Halifax County, was in and out as a major support force.

 There was much racist violence and widespread economic reprisals. At
various points, Moses Riddick came faithfully down to speak at our rallies
and lend inspiration from his own successful experience.  We won -- we broke
open all of those many and super-hard-core counties of the Northeastern
North Carolina Black Belt.  It was a tough battle -- but ultimately
extremely successful on all fronts. Interracial labor unionism developed
well. I have some SCEF material on my website which starts at
http://www.hunterbear.org/creative.htm   This then flows directly into some
highlights of our Northeastern N.C. campaign  which begin  at
http://www.hunterbear.org/in_very_early_1964.htm

As Ever, Hunter [Hunterbear]

From Bill Mandel to Hunter  [Re: People Writing About Peoples Other Than
Their Own]:

I deeply appreciate your post on this subject. In my autobio, you'll
find a few lines (bottom of 224, top of 225, and a separate sentence on
226) about a Black woman, Senora Lawson, whose life would have made a
remarkable biographical novel, as even those lines make clear. I made a
trip to Richmond after the Martinsville Case and was her house-guest in
order to gather material for it. I still have a large notebook full. But
the CP, of which I was then a member, was against whites attempting to
describe Black life, so I didn't write it. I'm sure it would have been
less than perfect, but it would have been a good read and added a lot to
the knowledge of history of many people Black and white, and I would
have learned from the criticism, had it been published.
Bill Mandel
--


========================================================


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

 

AND A NOTE ON HOWARD MELISH AND A NEW YORK CITY UNCF SPEAKING TRIP [HUNTER GRAY  11/28/02 ]

That's another very interesting letter, Bill [Mandel.]  The world continues
to get even smaller.

 I went to the appropriate page in your book and, indeed, that is Howard
standing in the back -- almost right under the very large, striking photo of
J.V. at the November 7 1950 celebration at the Soviet Embassy. [I do have to
say that there is certainly nothing non-descript about Stalin.]  I note
Howard has on his almost perennial glasses.  The photo of you at the fore,
which I had noted when I read the book, is excellent -- and, despite some
distance, Paul Robeson comes through very nicely.

I liked Howard, a man of great courage, very much indeed and kept in touch
with him over the years. And I had some contact with Mrs [Mary Jane] Melish,
who arranged tours in the Soviet Union.  I first met them in early
September, 1963 -- right after I joined SCEF as its Field Organizer.  I was
scheduled to give the annual address on behalf of the United Negro College
Fund [I had been a Tougaloo prof since '61] and, if I say so myself, wrote
an excellent one on the critically important role played by the private
Negro colleges of the South in the Movement. [The southern state Negro
colleges were, of course, under rigid Anglo political control -- and,
although some of their students certainly participated in civil rights
activism, it was tough.  They risked almost inevitable expulsion if they
were recognized.]  The academic work of the private Southern Negro colleges
was always significant -- but the Movement role of almost all of those
private colleges, and certainly all of those in UNCF, was a truly heroic
one.

I had been many places by then -- but never to New York City and was
somewhat edgy about it.  Howard met me at Newark and could not have been a
better host.  Mayor Robert Wagner and I  each spoke at the Harvard Club to a
large gathering. Then we went up to the very outside top of Rockefeller
Center where many philanthropists were gathered and gave our speeches once
again.  Everything went very well -- but, when I added a couple of lines
criticizing NYC for arresting peaceful CORE demonstrators, Police
Commissioner Murphy glowered darkly.

After that, I spent a couple of days in the City, Howard showing me the
sights [ e.g., Coney Island] and also introducing me to many of the SCEF
contributors:  all kinds of  very nice people -- one and all, a few of whom
had copies of Soviet Russia Today displayed in their shops.  We also met
Paul O'Dwyer -- the lawyer -- and had a pleasant visit at his large offices.

Heavy stuff for a country boy like me -- it all went well -- and Howard
certainly made New York a pleasure.

Over time, he set up several NYC speaking things for me -- and they always
went extremely well.  He also came South from time to time and we were
always glad to see him.

Soon after my UNCF appearance at New York -- and the get acquainted tour of
SCEF supporters and the City -- Howard gave his own address:  an excellent
and very substantial one at the memorial of Dr DuBois:  "Dr. William Edward
Burghardt DuBois   February 23, 1868    August 27, 1963."  Howard delivered
this at Accra, Ghana on September 29, 1963.  When he returned, it was
printed as a nicely done pamphlet [24 pp] -- and I still have the copy he
immediately sent to me.

As Ever - Hunter

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

----- Original Message -----
From: "William Mandel"
To: <marxist@yahoogroups.com>
Cc: <Redbadbear@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, November 28, 2002 1:44 PM
Subject: Re: [marxist] Southern Campaigns, etc [Re: People Writing About
Peoples Other Than Their Own]


> Man, you gotta write that book. Well, you're doing so, bit by bit.
> I knew Rev. Melish quite well. If you look at the full-page picture on
> p. 311 of my book, you'll find him standing immediately at the right
> lower edge of the immense photo of Joe Stalin in the Soviet Embassy in
> Washington at the celebration of the anniversary of the Revolution, Nov.
> 7, 1950. Robeson is three people to the right. I'm in front, profile
> shot.
>        The point is that the start of the Korean War in June had caused
> a boycott of the event by the U.S. and U.N. diplomatic types who usually
> attended, so I accepted the invitation for the only time ever, as was
> probably the case with some others.
>
 


 

 

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