Sent by our Associates Chippy and Bud
NYC Rally For Israel, Pro-Palestinian Protesters Counter-Demonstration
And on Friday …
First see yesterday’s post … MISSISSIPPI BURNT DOWN 50 YEARS AGO TODAY
Here are some songs written to celebrate their lives and honor their deaths, as well as one Yiddish song, “Donna Donna,” written a quarter-century earlier but profoundly appropriate, I think, to the day. The performers are Tom Paxton; Simon & Garfunkel; Harry Belafonte (singing a Pete Seeger-Frances Taylor song); Joan Baez; Richard and Mimi Farina (she was Joan Baez’s sister); Nechama Hendel; and wrapping it up, one of my favorite Phil Ochs songs, “Here’s to the State of Mississippi.” All the songs were written by the performers except where noted. (Originally appeared AT)
Tom Paxton: “Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney.”
Harry Belafonte: “Those Three Are on My Mind.” (Written by Pete Seeger and Frances Taylor. Hear Pete singing it here.)
Simon and Garfunkel: “He Was My Brother” (for Andrew Goodman, their friend and classmate at Queens College).
Richard and Mimi Farina: “Michael, Andrew and James.”
Nechama Hendel: “Donna Donna” (the Yiddish original, by Aaron Zeitlin and Sholom Secunda). (For Joan Baez’s famous performance of the English version [“…Calves are easily bound and slaughtered, never knowing the reason why, but whoever treasures freedom like the swallow has learned to fly”] click here.)
Phil Ochs: “Here’s to the State of Mississippi.”
Fifty years ago the State of Mississippi was burning …. burning with the same hatred that we see in the State of Israel today. Three young men went missing the summer of 1964. Two of them were Jewish, the third was African American.
Fifty years ago today Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were murdered in cold blood by active members of the KKK.
But 50 years after Freedom Summer, we once again need to cause some trouble. The tragedy of the “Mississippi Burning” murders became a travesty of justice when only a handful of the perpetrators were convicted on federal charges, none spending more than a half-dozen years in prison because the state wouldn’t pursue a murder prosecution.
Time for a FREEDOM SUMMER THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE WORLD!
Below is a report from the younger brother of Andrew Goodman …. let us never forget the bravery of these young men and the many others that gave their lives for the Freedom of others. Let us never forgive those that snuffed out those lives.
Fifty years ago, on June 21, 1964, my older brother, Andrew Goodman, was murdered near Philadelphia, Miss. He and his colleagues Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were ambushed by more than a dozen members of the Ku Klux Klan, including the county’s deputy sheriff. They were taken to an unmarked dirt road and shot, one by one. Their bodies weren’t discovered for 44 days, a mystery and a tragedy that continues to elicit raw emotions even a half-century later.
It happened on the first day of Freedom Summer, an effort by the black leadership to flood Mississippi with northern college students who would help register African-American voters.
At the time, barely 7% of Mississippi’s black residents were registered to vote. In eight of the 13 mostly black counties in the state, not a single African American had ever voted. A century after the Civil War, they remained disenfranchised — citizens without a voice. It was more than segregation; it was subjugation. Something had to be done.
A daring initiative
The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project was a bold initiative. Given the widespread hatred of “outside agitators,” it was an act of remarkable bravery by all who participated.
As the late Maya Angelou wrote in the foreword to My Mantelpiece, the recently published posthumous memoir of my mother, Carolyn Goodman, “Those three young men represent 300,000 young men and women who dared, who had the courage to go to the lion’s den and try to scrub the lion’s teeth.”
When 20-year-old Andy asked my parents for permission to volunteer in Mississippi, their urge to protect their son was trumped by the understanding that he was a spiritual reflection of themselves and their willingness to take action. His death devastated my family, but the brazenness of the act also shocked the nation. Sadly, it was largely because two of the three victims were white.
In fact, as officials searched through the forests and swamps of Mississippi, they discovered many black lynching victims who simply had been ignored because their tragic fate had become commonplace. So the case, which inspired the movie Mississippi Burning, lit a fire for the cause. It is no coincidence that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed the following year.
Yet here we go again. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of that landmark piece of legislation, and immediately a number of states moved to implement laws that would essentially reduce voter turnout among minority groups. Dubious claims ofvoter fraud are being used to once again disenfranchise a portion of the population.
In 1964, black would-be voters were turned away by intimidation and poll tests. Now, voter ID requirements and limited voting hourswill disproportionately turn away, or inconvenience, low-income and minority voters. It is a more sophisticated and insidious form of voter suppression.
Not letting go
Something has to be done. After Andy’s death, my mother devoted the rest of her life to ensuring that he did not die in vain. She formed The Andrew Goodman Foundation, celebrated youth activists, and worked tirelessly for voting rights and human rights (she was even arrested during a protest at age 83).
As the estimable Rep. John Lewis put it, “She got in trouble. … It was necessary trouble. And she inspired many of us to continue to get in trouble.”
But 50 years after Freedom Summer, we once again need to cause some trouble. The tragedy of the “Mississippi Burning” murders became a travesty of justice when only a handful of the perpetrators were convicted on federal charges, none spending more than a half-dozen years in prison because the state wouldn’t pursue a murder prosecution.
It wasn’t until 41 years later that the ringleader of the group wasconvicted of three counts of manslaughter. My 89-year-old mother testified at the trial, a trial that happened because a few determined folks, inside and outside of Mississippi, wouldn’t let it go.
So we cannot let this new movement — these cynical and sinister attempts to disenfranchise Americans — go. If it takes an act of “outside agitation,” so be it. If it requires courage, we can summon it. If it means replacing cynicism with optimism and apathy with action, we can accomplish it. After all, there is a tiny hamlet right next to Philadelphia, Miss. It is a town called Hope.
David Goodman is The Andrew Goodman Foundation president.
For Michael and Robbie ….
By Michael Kaufman (FROM)
We’re at Aunt Sadye and Uncle Joe’s house in Far Rockaway. A lot of the other uncles and aunts on my father’s side are there. The grownups all have serious looks on their faces. I can’t hear most of what they’re saying because they are talking more quietly than usual… but every once in a while one of them gets angry and the voices get louder. No one notices me in the next room reading the Daily Mirror newspaper.
I am 7 years old and a good reader. But I am disappointed because Aunt Sadye forgot to give me cookies and milk like she always does when we go there. I love the milk at their house because they keep it so much colder in their Frigidaire than we keep it at our house.
“This wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t Jewish,” I hear my father say just as I noticed a picture of the two boys, Michael and Robert. Robert is 7. Like me. He has a crewcut like mine and, hey, he even looks like me. Michael is 9. He has a crewcut too. The words under the picture say the boys are “playing quietly” but their faces look sad.
I look at the picture of the lady. She reminds me a little of my mom. Dark eyes, dark hair, even the look on her face. The man with the mustache doesn’t look like my father… more like my Uncle Joe. I hear a grownup — maybe my father or Uncle Willie — ask, “Did you read the Reuben book?”
“Not yet, but it won’t change my mind… they’re guilty alright.” Was it Uncle Joe who said that? Sidney? But as I read the words on the page, the talking and arguing in the next room becomes an unintelligible buzz.
First they put the man, Julius, in the electric chair… and he was dead. Then they put the lady, Ethel, but she did not die. It says a “wisp of smoke” came out of the top of her head but she was still alive. I look at her picture and try to imagine how she might look with smoke coming out of her head. Then another jolt of electricity and more smoke from her head… and she still didn’t die! It took three more jolts and more than five minutes to kill the lady who reminds me of my mother. The newspaper says they were “red spies.”
I don’t say anything to my parents during the drive home to Oceanside in the 1952 Buick. They don’t say much either. I feel sad for Michael and Robert. I feel bad about what happened to their parents, especially about the way their mother died. I wonder if my parents are red spies and if they will get put in the electric chair someday like the Rosenbergs.
Michael Kaufman of Warwick, NY has been a sportswriter, investigative reporter, and medical writer for more than thirty years. His work has appeared in Sport, Crawdaddy, Black Sorts, Hockey, Woman’s World, Health, and the Daily World (writing as “Michael Jay”), and in several anthologies and textbooks. He is a regular contributor to the blog Zest of Orange.
From Jewish Currents*
Happier Times …
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by electric chair in Ossining, New York on this date in 1953, despite worldwide appeals for clemency. Their two-year trial for conspiracy to commit atomic espionage on behalf of the USSR was a media sensation that heightened both American anti-communism and the fear and paranoia of American communists — some third of whom were Jewish, like the Rosenbergs — to fever pitch. The deeds for which the Rosenbergs were convicted took place during World War II, when the U.S. and the USSR were military allies in the anti-Nazi struggle — and while independent investigations and Soviet-era secret cables did indicate, decades later, that Julius Rosenberg participated in espionage, his wife Ethel was, at worst, a witness to her husband’s deeds rather than an active participant. Nevertheless, trial judge Irving Kaufman declared them both to be responsible for “putting into the hands of the Russians the A-Bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb” and therefore responsible for “the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason.” The Rosenbergs’ young sons were orphaned by the execution and were then adopted by songwriter Abel Meeropol and his wife Anne. To read Ethel’s final letter to her sons, as well as her letter about refusing to confess to any crimes, as well as contemporaneous commentary by newspapers, international personages, and writers for Jewish Currents, click here.
“I continue to maintain my innocence for the sole reason that I am not guilty of the charge.” —Ethel Rosenberg, letter to their attorney, June 8, 1953
A song written by Abel Meeropol from another bygone era …
Another great human being took leave of us on Wednesday ….. once again asking the unanswered; WHERE ARE THE REPLACEMENTS FOR THESE WONDERFUL PEOPLE? WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE!!
Ruby Dee, one of the most enduring actresses of theater and film, whose public profile and activist passions made her, along with her husband, Ossie Davis, a leading advocate for civil rights both in show business and in the wider world, died on Wednesday at her home in New Rochelle, N.Y. She was 91.
Her daughter Nora Davis Day confirmed the death.
A diminutive beauty with a sense of persistent social distress and a restless, probing intelligence, Ms. Dee began her performing career in the 1940s, and it continued well into the 21st century. She was always a critical favorite, though not often cast as a leading lady.
Her most successful central role was Off Broadway, in the 1970 Athol Fugard drama, “Boesman and Lena,” about a pair of nomadic mixed-race South Africans, for which she received overwhelming praise. Clive Barnes wrote in The New York Times, “Ruby Dee as Lena is giving one of the finest performances I have ever seen.”
Her most famous performance came more than a decade earlier, in 1959, in a supporting role in “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama about the quotidian struggle of a black family in Chicago at the dawn of the civil rights movement. Ms. Dee played Ruth Younger, the wife of the main character, Walter Lee Younger, played by Sidney Poitier, and the daughter-in-law of the leading female character, the family matriarch, Lena (Claudia McNeil).
Ruth is a character with far too much on her plate: an overcrowded home, a troubled husband, a young son, an overbearing mother-in-law, a wearying job and an unwanted pregnancy, not to mention the shared burden of black people everywhere in a society skewed against them. Ms. Dee’s was a haunting portrait of a young woman whose desperation to maintain grace under pressure doesn’t keep her from being occasionally broken by it.
The play had 530 performances on Broadway and was reprised, with much of the cast intact, as a 1961 film. On screen, Edith Oliver wrote in The New Yorker, Ms. Dee was “even more impressive” than she was onstage. “Is there a better young actress in America, or one who can make everything she does seem so effortless?” Ms. Oliver wrote.
The loyal but worried loved one was a role Ms. Dee played frequently, in films like “The Jackie Robinson Story” (in which she played the wife of the pioneering black ballplayer, who starred as himself) and “No Way Out,” a tough racial drama in which she played the sister of a prison doctor (Mr. Poitier).
Over the course of Ms. Dee’s career, the lives of American blacks, both extraordinary and ordinary, belatedly emerged as rich subject matter for mainstream theater productions and films, and black performers went from being consigned to marginal and often belittling roles to starring in Hollywood megahits.
Ms. Dee went from being a disciple of Paul Robeson to starring with Mr. Poitier on Broadway. She was a featured player in the films of Spike Lee and an Oscar nominee for a supporting role in the 2007 movie “American Gangster,” about a Harlem drug lord (Denzel Washington); she played a loving mother who turned a blind eye to her son’s criminality.
But Ms. Dee not only took part in that evolution; through her visibility in a wide range of projects, from classics onstage to contemporary film dramas to television soap operas, she also helped bring it about.
In 1965, playing Cordelia in “King Lear” and Kate in “The Taming of the Shrew,” she was the first black woman to appear in major roles at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Conn. In 1968, she became the first black actress to be featured regularly on the titillating prime-time TV series “Peyton Place.”
She appeared in two of Mr. Lee’s earliest films, “Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever.” (On Thursday, Michelle Obama tweeted about Ms. Dee: “I’ll never forget seeing her in ‘Do the Right Thing’ on my first date with Barack.”)
Ms. Dee picketed Broadway theaters that were not employing black actors for their shows and spoke out against film crews that hired few or no blacks.
Having made her name in films that addressed racial issues, she began seeking out more of them. She collaborated with the director Jules Dassin on the screenplay for “Up Tight!,” a 1968 adaptation of “The Informer,” Liam O’Flaherty’s 1925 novel set after the Irish civil war. (It had also been filmed by John Ford.) Mr. Dassin and Ms. Dee shifted the tale of betrayal among revolutionaries to 1960s Cleveland; Ms. Dee played a welfare mother who helped feed her family by resorting to prostitution.
She also lent her voice and presence to the cause of racial equality outside show business. She was an active member of the Congress of Racial Equality, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
At the Tony Awards ceremony on Sunday, Audra McDonald, in accepting her sixth acting award for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” acknowledged Ms. Dee as one of five black women whose shoulders she stands upon. (The others were Holiday, Maya Angelou, Diahann Carroll and Lena Horne.)
A revival of “Raisin in the Sun,” now playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Broadway, the same stage as the original production, won three Tonys, including one for Sophie Okonedo, who plays Ruth Younger. In a statement, Ms. Okonedo called Ms. Dee “one of my heroines.”
Ruby Ann Wallace, as she was known when she was born in Cleveland on Oct. 27, 1922, grew up in Harlem. The third child of teenage parents, she was reared mostly by her father, Marshall Wallace, who became a waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his second wife, the former Emma Amelia Benson, a college-educated teacher who was 13 years older than he. Ms. Dee described her as a strict but loving mother, a stickler for elocution and the person who introduced her to poetry, music and dance.
By the mid-1940s, when she graduated from Hunter College, Ms. Dee was already a working actress, having appeared on Broadway and in productions of the American Negro Theater, then a fledgling professional company housed in the basement of the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library.
She had also been married, in 1941, to the singer Frankie Dee Brown. The marriage dissolved within four years, but it gave Ms. Dee the name by which she would be known for the rest of her life.
She made her Broadway debut in December 1943 in a short-lived play called “South Pacific,” unrelated to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that came along more than five years later. In 1946 she joined the cast of a Broadway-bound play called “Jeb,” about a black soldier who has lost a leg in World War II and discovers that his sacrifice for his country is of little value in the face of the racism he encounters on his return home.
Hired as the understudy for the role of Libby, the title character’s loving girlfriend, Ms. Dee not only replaced the original actress in the role before opening night but also fell in love with the star, Ossie Davis. The show lasted for nine performances, the relationship nearly 60 years, until Mr. Davis’s death in 2005. They married in 1948.
Besides her daughter Nora, Ms. Dee is survived by another daughter, Hasna Muhammad; a son, the singer Guy Davis; a sister, Angelina Roach; and seven grandchildren.
The partnership between Ms. Dee and Mr. Davis was romantic, familial, professional, artistic and political, and they jointly received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton.
During their careers they performed together many times, including in “Raisin,” when Mr. Davis took over the stage role of Walter Younger from Mr. Poitier, and in “Purlie Victorious,” Mr. Davis’s own broad satire about a charismatic preacher in the Jim Crow South, on Broadway in 1961 and in the 1963 film version, “Gone Are the Days!”
In 1998 they published a joint autobiography, “With Ossie & Ruby: In This Life Together,” to commemorate their 50th wedding anniversary. The book is remarkable for its candor, not only about their careers and upbringings but also about their intimate lives, together and apart, and their reflections on race relations, politics and art. Told in separate, alternating voices, it was a book-length public conversation that testified to a lifelong private one.
Ms. Dee and Mr. Davis stood together, far to the political left, on behalf of numerous causes. They spoke out in the 1950s against the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and against the persecution of American Communists (and purported Communists) in the investigations by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. When, under the McCarran Internal Security Act, the government revoked the passport of Robeson, the great black actor, singer and outspoken socialist, they helped organize the campaign to have it restored.
They were friends and supporters of both the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, whose eulogy, after his assassination in 1965, was delivered by Mr. Davis. On Aug. 28, 1963, the day of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which culminated in Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Ms. Dee and Mr. Davis were the M.C.’s of the entertainment event at the foot of the Washington Monument that preceded the march to the Lincoln Memorial. They raised money for the Black Panthers. They demonstrated against the Vietnam War.
In 2005 Ms. Dee received a lifetime achievement award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
“You can only appreciate freedom,” she said then, “when you find yourself in a position to fight for someone else’s freedom and not worry about your own.”
*CreditNicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Tributes continue to pour in for this remarkable giant of a woman ….
One regular reader of this Blog commented the following on my post about Yuri …
WHERE ARE THE REPLACEMENTS FOR THESE WONDERFUL PEOPLE? WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE!!
Such truth in so few words …
Tributes that are appearing on Tumbler …
Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014) was a Japanese American activist who organized and fought for the liberation of all people. Her life & work continue to illuminate & inspire generations of organizers working for justice in the U.S. & around the world. This is how we choose to remember her & honor her legacy.
See all of the tributes HERE, and add your own as well …
This tribute FROM
“Don’t become too narrow. Live fully. Meet all kinds of people. You’ll learn something from everyone. Follow what you feel in your heart.” –
Through photos, videos, interviews and a timeline, BK Nation honors the life of Yuri Kochiyama, one of the most important activists of the 20th century. Once imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp during World War II and later raising a family in the housing projects of Harlem, Kochiyama’s activist career was ignited by the Black liberation movement and her friendship with Malcolm X. In addition to her involvement with the Black liberation and Civil Rights movements, Kochiyama was an advocate for nuclear disarmament, Puerto Rican nationalism, and youth empowerment. In 1988, she and her husband Bill won reparations and an apology for Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II with the passage of the Civil Liberties Act. No matter her own ethnic background, Kochiyama joined the struggles of a diverse array of peoples. Her commitment to justice for any and all who faced oppression is truly remarkable, and she will always be remembered as an outstanding role model and courageous leader. – Ben Weitz, BK Nation Writer
And from The New York Times
Her granddaughter Akemi Kochiyama confirmed the death.
Mrs. Kochiyama, the child of Japanese immigrants who settled in Southern California, knew discrimination well by the time she was a young woman. During World War II she spent two years in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans in Arkansas, a searing experience that also exposed her to the racism of the Jim Crow South.
A few years after the war, she married William Kochiyama, whom she had met at the camp, and the couple moved to New York in 1948. They spent 12 years in public housing in Manhattan, in the Amsterdam Houses on the Upper West Side, where most of their neighbors were black and Puerto Rican, before moving to Harlem.
The couple had become active in the civil rights movement when Mrs. Kochiyama met Malcolm X for the first time at a Brooklyn courthouse in October 1963. He was surrounded by supporters, mostly young black men, when she approached him. She told him she wanted to shake his hand, to congratulate him, she recalled in an interview with The New York Times in 1996.
“I admire what you’re doing,” she told him, “but I disagree with some of your thoughts.”
He asked which ones.
“Your harsh stand on integration,” she said.
He agreed to meet with her later, and by 1964 Mrs. Kochiyama and her husband had befriended him. Early that year Malcolm X began moving away from the militant Nation of Islam, to which he belonged, toward beliefs that were accepting of many kinds of people. He sent the Kochiyamas postcards from his travels to Africa and elsewhere.
One, mailed from Kuwait on Sept. 27, 1964, read: “Still trying to travel and broaden my scope since I’ve learned what a mess can be made by narrow-minded people. Bro. Malcolm X.”
The following February, Mrs. Kochiyama was in the audience at the Audubon Ballroom in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan waiting to hear Malcolm X address a new group he had founded, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, when there was a burst of gunfire. She ran toward the stage.
“I just went straight to Malcolm, and I put his head on my lap,” she recalled. “He just lay there. He had difficulty breathing, and he didn’t utter a word.”
A powerful photograph of her holding him accompanied an article about the assassination in the March 5, 1965, issue of Life magazine.
Mrs. Kochiyama was born Mary Yuriko Nakahara on May 19, 1921, in San Pedro, Calif. An outgoing student in high school, she played sports and wrote for the school newspaper. She said in interviews that she was mostly unaware of political issues until her father, Seiichi, was taken into custody by the F.B.I. shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Although ill, Mr. Nakahara, a successful fish merchant, was held and interrogated for several weeks before being released on Jan. 20, 1942. He died the next day. By the spring, the rest of the family was among the 120,000 Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps across the country.
In the 1980s, the Kochiyamas sought government reparations for Japanese-Americans who had been interned. In 1988, Congress approved a plan to pay $20,000 to each of the estimated 60,000 surviving internees.
Besides her granddaughter Akemi, her survivors include a daughter, Audee Kochiyama-Holman; three sons, Eddie, Jimmy and Tommy; eight other grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Another son, Billy, died in the 1970s, and a daughter, Aichi, died in 1989.
Her husband died in 1993. He had been interned in Arkansas before he joined the all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which became one of the most decorated units in American military history.
In the 1960s and ’70s, the sofa in the Kochiyamas’ apartment was regularly occupied by activists in need of a place to sleep. Years later, Mrs. Kochiyama helped organize campaigns to free activists and others whom she believed had been wrongly imprisoned, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and radio journalist sentenced to death in the killing of a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. In 2012, his sentence was reduced to life without parole.
Mrs. Kochiyama, who never graduated from college, read constantly and widely. On Tuesday, her granddaughter Akemi opened for the first time a journal of favorite quotations that Mrs. Kochiyama had collected and given to her several years ago.
“There were so many different writers and thinkers,” said Akemi Kochiyama, who is pursuing a doctorate in cultural anthropology. “It’s Emerson, it’s Keats and Yeats and José Marti. It’s political thinkers. It’s Marcus Garvey. It’s everything.”
Mrs. Kochiyama was an inspiration herself. For its 2011 album “Cinemetropolis,” the Seattle hip-hop group Blue Scholars composed a song about her. The refrain: “When I grow up I want to be just like Yuri Kochiyama.”
Her name was never a household word to most of us, but it definitely should have been …
The life history of Yuri Kochiyama is the life history of the American Civil and Human Rights Movements.
Truly a Woman of Valor, she died on Sunday at the age of 93.
Her story follows … (FROM)
An Angel she was ….. truly one of my favourites.
Angelou, who was also prominent in the civil rights movement, died at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Jessica Glenza in New York FOR
Maya Angelou in 2008. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP
Maya Angelou, the American poet and author, died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Wednesday. She was 86.
Her son, Guy B Johnson, confirmed the news in a statement. He said: “Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension.
“She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”
Johnson said Angelou “passed quietly in her home” sometime before 8am on Wednesday.
Bill Clinton, at whose inauguration Angelou read her On the Pulse of the Morning, said in a statement: America has lost a national treasure, and Hillary and I a beloved friend.”
Angelou’s failing health was reported as recently as Tuesday, when she canceled an appearance honoring her with a Beacon of Life Award because of “health reasons”. The ceremony was part of the 2014 MLB Beacon Award Luncheon, in Houston, Texas, part of Major League Baseball’s Civil Rights Games.
Last month, forced to cancel an appearance at a library in Arkansas, she wrote: “An unexpected ailment put me into the hospital. I will be getting better and the time will come when I can receive another invitation from my state and you will recognize me for I shall be the tall Black lady smiling. I ask you to please keep me in your thoughts, in your conversation and in your prayers.”
She survived several personal trials: she was a child of the depression, grew up in the segregated south, survived a childhood rape, gave birth as a teenager, and was, at one time, a prostitute.
She wrote wrote seven autobiographies, including the 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and was a playwright, director, actor, singer, songwriter and novelist.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was an indictment of the racial discrimination she experienced during her childhood. “If growing up is painful for the southern black girl,” she wrote, “being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.”
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has had a wide appeal, particularly to younger female readers and continues to appear on school and university reading lists in the US and the UK.
In 1993, she read On the Pulse of the Morning at President Clinton’s first inauguration, a performance that made the poem a bestseller. The poem celebrates the diversity of ethnic groups in the US, and calls on the nation to leave behind cynicism and look forward to a new pride in itself, and a new dawn for the country.
Clinton on Wednesday said he would “always be grateful for her electrifying reading … and even more for all the years of friendship that followed.”
Angelou was a long-time Clinton supporter. One month before his inauguration, she told the New York Times: “Since the election, I have found it easier to wake up in the morning,” and “there seems to be a promise in the air.”
And her loyalty to Hillary Clinton has been steadfast, even as Barack Obama campaigned to be America’s first black president.
“I made up my mind 15 years ago that if she ever ran for office I’d be on her wagon. My only difficulty with Senator Obama is that I believe in going out with who I went in with,” she told the Guardian.
And as news of her death spread, actors, writers, directors, activists and politicians tweeted thankful and mournful notes reacting to Angelou’s passing.
Angelou had lived in North Carolina since the early 1980s, when she became a professor at Wake Forest University, a private liberal arts college. A statement from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem called Angelou “a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world”.
The mayor of Winston-Salem, Allen Joines, said the town would probably remember Angelou best for her commitment to health and theatre.
She supported the founder of the National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, and eventually became its first chairperson in 1989. In 2012, the Maya Angelou Women’s Health and Wellness Center opened in the city. A street in Winston-Salem is named after Angelou.
Despite her many accomplishments, the mayor said small moments seemed to touch the poet.
In April 2008, the town threw Angelou an 80th birthday party. Despite entertainers and speakers present at the party, the mayor said, “The thing that seemed to touch her the most was a group of little kids.”
By Tom Karlson
Yesterday, Israel came to a standstill for two minutes in remembrance of its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks …
It is truly sad for any nation or people to commemorate the memory of those who died before their time by the horrors of war or terrorism.
Today, Israel celebrates 66 years of independence as Palestinians remember their own victims of terror … and the Nakba
Just a few of our precious fallen angels ….
There were more …. many more ….
A report FROM
The United Nations office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report that 1,335 Palestinian children were shot dead as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks or indiscriminate gun fire by Israeli soldiers, a Press TV correspondent reported on Saturday.
“The international community should offer protection for Palestinian children so that they can have a better social and educational environment,” said Amjad Shawa, Coordinator of Palestinian NGO Network.
According to the Palestinian ministry of health, 15 children have been killed in Gaza alone since the beginning of 2011 — three of them while playing in front of their house.
“The children were just playing out in the street like the way they always did and then all of a sudden rockets were fired towards them. They were killed just because they were playing,” the victims’ uncle Yaser Alhelou said.
In 2006, Israeli artillery fire hit the Athamna family house in northern Gaza, killing 16 family members, including seven children.
Human rights groups have also condemned Israeli policies towards Palestinian children.
According to UNICEF, Israeli policies have put the lives of more than 1.9 million Palestinian children in danger.
They also face the constant threat of death, injury, displacement, detention, psychological distress and low educational attainment.
On Tuesday, three children were injured by a piece of unexploded Israeli ordnance that went off in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Gaza is currently riddled with unexploded ordnance, left over from Israel’s war on the blockaded coastal enclave at the turn of 2009.
And, what about a moment of silence for those who were forced to flee their villages, many of which were completely erased from the map …. UNTIL NOW;
Palestinians can NOW find their village … thanks to Zochrot
Since 2002 Zochrot has been promoting Israeli Jewish society’s acknowledgement of, and accountability for, the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and the reconceptualization of Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba, and a chance for a better life for the entire country’s inhabitants. Zochrot challenges the Israeli Jewish public’s preconceptions, and promotes awareness, political, and cultural change within it to create the conditions for the Return of Palestinian Refugees and a shared life in this country.
iNakba is a trilingual mobile app (Arabic, Hebrew and English) based on GPS Navigation technology. This app allows users to locate and learn about Palestinian localities destroyed during, and as a result of, the Nakba since 1948.
The application provides coordinates and maps of Palestinian localities that were completely ruined, destroyed, obliterated after their capture, partially demolished, or remained standing but were depopulated and their residents expelled. The app also provides historical information and includes video clips and photographs of these localities. The app is interactive; it allows users to add pictures of the destroyed localities, as well as share their comments and follow updates about selected localities.
We Need Your Help!
Not all the destroyed or depopulated localities are represented by video clips or photographs. Some of the coordinates provided may be inaccurate or incomplete. Zochrot is constantly augmenting the information about all the demolished localities, and we invite users to help us by adding photographs, video clips, updates, and/or corrections. Please send comments and audio-visual corrections and additions to: email@example.com, or via the app’s “Contact Us” link.
The iNakba app is currently only available for iPhones, but we are developing versions for additional devices while updating and expanding the information with the help of iNakba users.
Zochrot is grateful to Netaj company in Nazareth for their professionalism in developing iNakba.
Palestine WILL rise from the ashes one day soon, but let us stand today to remember the horrors inflicted upon them.
Paul Robeson Jr., who worked to preserve the legacy of his father, the actor, singer and civil rights advocate, since his death almost four decades ago, died on Saturday in Jersey City. He was 86.
The cause was lymphoma, his daughter, Susan Robeson, said.
Mr. Robeson wrote two books about his father and created an archive of his writing and films. He aimed to teach new generations about his father’s radical politics and criticized those he thought misrepresented his life, including a 1978 Broadway play starring James Earl Jones, which he protested.
Mr. Robeson worked for many years as a Russian translator and served as a personal aide to his father. In his later years, he wrote books about politics and race, as well as a two-part biography of his father.
He admired his father and noted their similar political views in an interview with The New York Times in 1993 when he published his first book, “Paul Robeson Jr. Speaks to America.”
“I follow in my father’s cultural tradition,” he said, “and like him, I am a black radical.”
Mr. Robeson was born on Nov. 2, 1927, in Brooklyn, the only child of Paul and Eslanda Robeson. As a boy, he traveled with his parents to Europe and lived with his grandmother in Moscow, where he became fluent in Russian and attended the same public school, he said, as Joseph Stalin’s daughter.
After his father’s death in 1976, Mr. Robeson began to collect his father’s correspondence, recordings and photographs for an archive, part of which is housed at Howard University.
When the play “Paul Robeson,” opened on Broadway in 1978, Mr. Robeson and several African-American leaders, including Maya Angelou and Julian Bond, published a letter in Variety calling it a “pernicious perversion of the essence of Paul Robeson.” The play, written by Phillip Hayes Dean, who died earlier this month, did not emphasize Mr. Robeson’s socialist views, they argued, in order to appeal to a mass audience.
The show closed after 77 performances, but it returned to Broadway in 1988 and 1995, with Avery Brooks in the title role. During the first revival, Mr. Robeson said that the production had improved but added, “I still feel the character as written is a counterfeit.”
Mr. Robeson served as a consultant for several films about his father, including a 1999 documentary for the PBS series “American Masters.”
His first book on his father, published in 2001, followed an earlier biography by Martin Duberman. It read “like Paul Jr.’s attempt to correct the story of his father’s life as told by Duberman,” a review in The New York Times said. “In the end, however, it adds little and omits a great deal from the earlier biography.”
Besides his daughter, Mr. Robeson is survived by his wife, Marilyn, and a grandson.
Mr. Robeson was tall and athletic like his father; both men played football in college. While they had much in common, he said one difference was that he was a member of the Communist Party from 1948 to 1962 while his father never joined the party. (During the McCarthy era, his father faced F.B.I. surveillance after he criticized the government.)
Asked whether it was difficult being in his father’s shadow, Mr. Robeson said that his father once told him: “If you want to be somebody, you’re going to have to be yourself. You can’t copy anybody else, especially me.”
“So I never remember having any need to compete with him,” Mr. Robeson said. “He gave me a sense of being my own man.”
Pundak, a noble man, did not call to account in his book those responsible for the failure of the Oslo Accords. He was not one for hate, bitterness or petty accounting, not even when he was forced to leave the Peres Center for Peace because he focused more on peace than on Peres.
He was an “Oslo criminal,” perhaps the “Oslo criminal.” In a country where war criminals are heroes and peace heroes are criminals, Ron Pundak was a different sort of hero.
With the exception of Uri Avnery, who at 90 has just published the first part of his fascinating Hebrew-language autobiography — “Optimistic,” he titled it — Pundak was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. He was an incorrigible optimist where peace was concerned, and no less an optimist about his long, cursed illness. A man full of hope who is no more.
Pundak was the youngest, and nearly the last, of the believers in peace. After him, the abyss. He wanted peace for peace’s sake, without pathos or guilt. Simply peace.
He wasn’t anti-Israel; he was a Zionist and a lover of Israel. He wasn’t an Arab-lover; he was clearheaded, one of the last few who still met with Arabs and saw them as equal human beings. Nor was he a romantic.
His dreams were realistic, even if they fit a reality much saner than the crazy one we’ve created here. Pundak didn’t miss a single initiative. He came to peace from a very patriotic place. The fire that burned in his soul was ignited not by injustice to the Palestinians but by the future of the country he loved and that never repaid him for his labors.
Fire? Pundak was a cool man, as befits someone who grew up in a Nordic home, a Scandinavian-Israeli. His father Herbert (later Nahum) was perhaps the only journalist in history to be the editor of two newspapers in two countries at the same time — Denmark’s Politiken and Israel’s Davar Hashavua. (And he also worked for the Mossad at one point.)
He and his wife Susie have now lost their second son. Their eldest, Uri, the great hope of Tel Aviv’s Ironi Aleph High School graduating class of 1970, died in the Yom Kippur War.
I remember Ron on the beach of the legendary Sinai resort Aqua Sun, another province of dreams that is no more. Only once did he join his sister Michal and the special group that vacationed there regularly. Not once during his stay did he take off his safari jacket or obligatory moccasins.
Ron didn’t like the sun and sand. Maybe it was no coincidence that two of the main Oslo architects, Pundak and Yair Hirschfeld, of Danish and Austrian descent, respectively, weren’t your typical backslapping Israelis.
Something went wrong with their Oslo. To his dying day, Pundak remained convinced that the problem was the execution, not the plan or vision. In his Hebrew-language book “Secret Channel” — like another work he published in 2013 presumably knowing his days were numbered — he describes the incredible, rocky path that he, Hirschfeld, Yossi Beilin, Uri Savir and a handful of others traversed on their way to Oslo. It was from there to the White House Rose Garden for the signing ceremony, to which Pundak was not invited.
Pundak, a noble man, did not call to account in his book those responsible for the failure of the Oslo Accords. He was not one for hate, bitterness or petty accounting, not even when he was forced to leave the Peres Center for Peace because he focused more on peace than on Peres.
Once, at a modest birthday celebration that Beilin held for Shimon Peres in his home, in a corner near the stairs, Ron sat on the floor — pale, bald, weak and clearly in pain. Even then he didn’t complain. I’ll never forget that sight. On April 11, 2013, one year before his death, Ron, with chilling precision, texted me: “Your op-ed should have been the front-page lead.” The op-ed was titled “A letter from a ghost.”
Now Ron is dead, a ghost, just as another desperate attempt to blow life into the moribund peace process is set to give up the ghost. The man who wrote in his book, without even a touch of cynicism or desperation, “Fundamentally, the chance for a peace agreement remains,” would surely find fragments of hope even in these dark days. Now Ron won’t speak either. No one will speak of peace in Israel anymore.
The iconic folk singer shares memories of his colleague and friend
Folksingers Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger during a memorial service for actor Will Geer in New York City on May 12, 1978
When Pete Seeger died on Jan. 27 at the age of 94, the world lost more than a folksinger, more than a songwriter, more than a moral leader who gave a soundtrack to social causes for three generations. We lost an artist who was uniquely American, the product of a musical tradition that was passed down by hand. Seeger took the torch from musical greats like Woody Guthrie and passed them down to a new generation of musical legends, including Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and Woody’s son Arlo, with whom Seeger played for 50 years.
Arlo Guthrie, a folk legend in his own right, spoke with TIME about his friend and music partner who inspired generations with his music and activism.
TIME: Can you tell us about the first time you met Pete Seeger?
Guthrie: I could if I could remember, but I was just a little kid, probably about 3 or 4 years old. I really have no actual date or time in my mind I can go back to and say, “This is when I actually met him.” My father had entered into the hospital part of his life in the mid 50s, which was about the same time I probably met Pete. My mother had introduced me to a lot of my father’s friends because she believed that I would get to know the guy my dad was better through his friends than just in the hospital visits.
When I thought about this later on in life, I realized that Pete and my father and that crowd of people that included Lead Belly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee — all of these guys had grown up before recorded music. The songs that they knew circulated by word of mouth, not by radio or by records or any electronic media. They were handed down from one person to another, from generation to generation. It was not the kind of music you could take a course on; you couldn’t get a degree in it. Nobody went to school for it. It was the kind of music you heard around the campfire or hanging out with friends. It was very different from the music we were hearing on the radio.
What was it like to play with him?
Probably around 1968, when I was around 18, we did a concert together at Carnegie Hall. That is a tradition we continued, pretty much up until last November. Every year for about 30 years Pete and I had a regularly scheduled show the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. We took over that tradition about a decade ago without Pete, but every once in a while he said that he wanted to come and play.
I remember watching how he handled the audience. I wouldn’t have used the words master in those days, but he had an authority over the audience that allowed them to relax and sing along with him. My eyes just opened up and I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of me. He would just wave his hand, and you could hear people singing. Of course over the decades that I worked with him, I began to realize that this isn’t something you’re born with; it’s something you can learn. Other people have learned how to do that from him over the years. Anyone who has ever seen him knows what I’m saying, and someone who has not will find it hard to believe. It was almost as if he had some extra sense that allowed that kind of response. There’s no one else I have ever seen in my life that has had that, on any country, on any continent or in any city. Nobody came close.
He was well known for his banjo playing, but he also played the guitar very well. Did he have a favorite instrument?
It was whatever allowed the accompaniment to sound in the way he wanted. He also was a wonderful player of the recorder. There were moments in the concerts we did where he would play some Native American tune or an Irish tune, and you could hear a pin drop in a crowd that would fill some of these larger venues. You couldn’t hear a thing but this wafting air from that flute-like instrument, and it was just magic.
In later years he began to have difficulty singing. About 10 years ago, he must have been in his 80s, he said to me, “Arlo, I can’t do those big shows with you anymore. I can’t sing like I used to sing. I can’t play like I used to play.” I just looked at him and I said, “Pete, look at our audience. They can’t hear like they used to hear. It shouldn’t be a problem.” And he laughed and he said, “Maybe you’re right.” And every once in a while he would keep coming out, and that’s where he would transfer his own voice and say, “I can’t sing anymore, but you can sing.” And he would lead everybody in these songs. Those were wonderful times.
How did Pete approach writing songs?
He was the kind of songwriter who could remember a tune or a song that he’d heard somewhere in life, and he had a catalogue of hundreds of thousands of songs. I don’t know where the ones that he wrote came from, but I know that he had an awful lot to draw on that was part of his knowledge. He was quite a music scholar. Whenever I wanted information on a song, Pete was the first guy to go to: “where did this tune come from?” or “what about these lyrics?” and he’d say, “You know back in 1782, there was a guy…” and he’d know the names of the people who wrote the songs and where the songs originated. He was fascinated by it and it was natural for him. Every once in a while, as the occasion permitted or demanded, he would just come up with lyrics, write something and try it out.
Did you have a favorite Pete Seeger song?
Not really, although if I did, it probably wouldn’t be one of his most well known songs. He wrote some really hauntingly beautiful melodies. I’ve recorded some of the ones I always loved. And like any musician, he had songs and melodies that were important to him, but he didn’t think were for the public, and he would sing those and play those, either backstage or just goofing off with other people. There was a song called “Melody of Love,” and he just loved playing it. It felt good to play. There were songs like that that were part of our relationship that were never public.
Off the stage, what was it like to be in a room with Pete?
It was funny. I remember one time we went to play this venue Wolf Trap outside of Washington, D.C., which is one of these big, shed-type venues. We went downstairs to the dressing rooms before the sound check and there was food backstage, and there was a big chocolate cake sitting on the table. Pete he cut what I thought was a fairly reasonably sized piece of cake, then he left the piece and took the rest of the cake into the dressing room. He came out 20 minutes later with a big smile on his face, and he looked around and said, “Anyone want that last piece of cake?” His wife was yelling, “You can’t do that.” It was very funny.
Just recently he had gone into the hospital for some surgery. His kids called and asked if there was something I could do. I said, “Buy him a cake.” They were brought up to eat very healthy, so the Guthrie family sent a chocolate cake to Pete. Because at 84, who the hell cares? The man needs cake. After the surgery, his family went out and bought him another cake. It was not a very good idea to get between Pete and a cake, and no one ever did.
He has been noted for his heroism, standing up to the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955, especially when we look back on that episode with some distance. But at the time, it must have been a frightening experience to be hauled before Congress, refuse to testify and be held in contempt and nearly imprisoned. Did he ever talk about that time?
Not really to me personally. I was with him on occasions when reporters would bring that up. I have to tell you, though, just two days ago, somebody posted a release from the Kennedy Library of a letter I had written to President Kennedy about Pete. I have no memory of it; I must have been 13 or 14 years old. I said something like, “Dear Mr. President, do what you can for my buddy Pete.” So I was aware of it at the time, but I don’t remember him really talking about it very much.
I’m sure he didn’t look forward to those kinds of confrontations because he wasn’t a confrontational guy. But he would not back down, either. He wasn’t looking for trouble, but he wasn’t purposely avoiding it.
What do you think drove his lifelong effort for his many causes and convictions?
Pete had a real vision of what the country was about. He came from a long line of Puritan stock. His family had been in the country a very, very long time, and he had a sense of history. He wasn’t just a scholar of music; he was also a political scholar and a historical scholar. He loved the idealism of a nation founded on the principles he thought were important, and he spread that wherever he went.
I think to be asked about his religion, or about his beliefs, or about his political thoughts, was such an insult to him, because it was insulting to every American. He had a way of taking these personal events in his life and moving them forward so that they included everyone. If it had just affected him, he wouldn’t have said anything; he wouldn’t have written about it; he wouldn’t have made a big deal. But because it affected everyone, he was involved. I think that’s one of the things that motivated him about the environment, the war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement. Sometimes he was right; sometimes he was wrong, but he was right most of the time. And he set out to make the country in what he imagined it was meant to be, what it could be. Whatever was going on, he was there because he had a sense of how it impacted everyone. It was not just personal. It was America.
He said something wonderful a few years ago: “My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.” That seems to perfectly capture what he did with his life.
He really believed that the more people do things together, the quicker you can get things done. That is not a concept he invented; that’s a concept the United States invented. That’s why it’s called the United States. These commonwealths or provinces didn’t stand a chance against the big economies of the world. But together, they could do incredible things. Of course that’s history, but you have to apply that. So his fight for unions did not arise from some ideology. He saw that as being American.
A lot of people ascribe political reasons to his becoming involved in different causes, but they were bigger than that. They were not an ideology; they were part of his soul, and part of the American soul.
What will be the lasting legacy of Pete Seeger?
I think it’s too soon to tell, but I think for me personally it is the incredible feelings that can change a moment in time when people sing. When people voice their opinions together in song, or at a meeting, or in a congress, there are moments that change everything. I remember walking down the street with Pete and half a million other people at the rallies in the 60s and the empowerment that people felt singing together, walking together, standing side-by-side. It changed my life, and it changed everyone’s life who was there, whether they became singers or writers or insurance brokers. Whatever they did in life, those feelings remain an integral part of who they are. They know what’s possible because they were there to feel it. That is the legacy Pete leaves me personally.
The above appeared AT
More Tributes to Pete can be found
The great Pete Seeger has passed away at the age of 94.
Obituaries recounting his activism and folk singing, his moral strength and indelible contributions to not only American folk music, but the struggles for civil rights, equality, peace and justice, are now everywhere. He sang for freedom; he sang for labor; he sang for the oppressed, he sang for the land and the air and water; he sang for the tired and poor. He sang about dangers and he sang out warnings. He sang out love. He sang for you and me.
Reflecting on his life and career during an interview in 2010, Seeger said, “The most important thing is that I did not want to become rich, not become a part of the establishment.”
I share a hometown with Seeger; we were born and raised on the banks of the same river. I’ve had the privilege of wading waist-deep in the mud and pulling weedsalongside him in the shallows of the Hudson. I have sailed on the sloop Clearwater and have sung with him around a campfire. For this, I consider myself lucky. And today I am sad.
The twang of Pete Seeger’s five-string banjo and the tremble in his unmistakable voice – the People’s voice – taught me not to study war and told me we were not alone and not afraid. He told me to take it easy, but take it. And I learned from Pete that we shall overcome. Someday.
I can think of no better tribute to him – consistent champion of the ninety-nine percent, a true American hero walking that freedom highway – than to let his own words speak for themselves, words not found in his music, but rather on the floor of the United States government’s House Un-American Activities Committee on August 18, 1955. The text is below.
Subpoenaed to testify during the dark days of McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch hunts, he refused to invoke the Fifth Amendment, instead chastising Fascistic Congressmen for their loathsome line of questioning. He never named names. He was blacklisted, found in contempt and held his head high. His testimony is a damning indictment of power and fear and an inspiration to those who refuse to remain silent in the face of injustice, of greed, of hatred, and of violence.
“I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody,” he told the committee.
“Singing is my business,” he said.
Without Pete Seeger, the state of our union is far worse today than it was yesterday.
RIP, Pete. Take it easy, we’ll take it from here.
Testimony of Pete Seeger before the House Un-American Activities Committee, August 18, 1955
. . . Mr. TAVENNER: The Committee has information obtained in part from theDaily Worker indicating that, over a period of time, especially since December of 1945, you took part in numerous entertainment features. I have before me a photostatic copy of the June 20, 1947, issue of the Daily Worker. In a column entitled “What’s On” appears this advertisement: “Tonight—Bronx, hear Peter Seeger and his guitar, at Allerton Section housewarming.” May I ask you whether or not the Allerton Section was a section of the Communist Party?
Mr. SEEGER: Sir, I refuse to answer that question whether it was a quote from theNew York Times or the Vegetarian Journal.
Mr. TAVENNER: I don’t believe there is any more authoritative document in regard to the Communist Party than its official organ, the Daily Worker.
Mr. SCHERER: He hasn’t answered the question, and he merely said he wouldn’t answer whether the article appeared in the New York Times or some other magazine. I ask you to direct the witness to answer the question.
Chairman WALTER: I direct you to answer.
Mr. SEEGER: Sir, the whole line of questioning—
Chairman WALTER: You have only been asked one question, so far.
Mr. SEEGER: I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.
Mr. TAVENNER: Has the witness declined to answer this specific question?
Chairman WALTER: He said that he is not going to answer any questions, any names or things.
Mr. SCHERER: He was directed to answer the question.
Mr. TAVENNER: I have before me a photostatic copy of the April 30, 1948, issue of the Daily Worker which carries under the same title of “What’s On,” an advertisement of a “May Day Rally: For Peace, Security and Democracy.” The advertisement states: “Are you in a fighting mood? Then attend the May Day rally.” Expert speakers are stated to be slated for the program, and then follows a statement, “Entertainment by Pete Seeger.” At the bottom appears this: “Auspices Essex County Communist Party,” and at the top, “Tonight, Newark, N.J.” Did you lend your talent to the Essex County Communist Party on the occasion indicated by this article from the Daily Worker?
Mr. SEEGER: Mr. Walter, I believe I have already answered this question, and the same answer.
Chairman WALTER: The same answer. In other words, you mean that you decline to answer because of the reasons stated before?
Mr. SEEGER: I gave my answer, sir.
Chairman WALTER: What is your answer?
Mr. SEEGER: You see, sir, I feel—
Chairman WALTER: What is your answer?
Mr. SEEGER: I will tell you what my answer is.
I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.
Chairman WALTER: Why don’t you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?
Mr. SEEGER: I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.
Chairman WALTER: I don’t want to hear about it.
Mr. SCHERER: I think that there must be a direction to answer.
Chairman WALTER: I direct you to answer that question.
Mr. SEEGER: I have already given you my answer, sir.
Mr. SCHERER: Let me understand. You are not relying on the Fifth Amendment, are you?
Mr. SEEGER: No, sir, although I do not want to in any way discredit or depreciate or depredate the witnesses that have used the Fifth Amendment, and I simply feel it is improper for this committee to ask such questions.
Mr. SCHERER: And then in answering the rest of the questions, or in refusing to answer the rest of the questions, I understand that you are not relying on the Fifth Amendment as a basis for your refusal to answer?
Mr. SEEGER: No, I am not, sir. . . .
Mr. TAVENNER: You said that you would tell us about the songs. Did you participate in a program at Wingdale Lodge in the State of New York, which is a summer camp for adults and children, on the weekend of July Fourth of this year?
(Witness consulted with counsel.)
Mr. SEEGER: Again, I say I will be glad to tell what songs I have ever sung, because singing is my business.
Mr. TAVENNER: I am going to ask you.
Mr. SEEGER: But I decline to say who has ever listened to them, who has written them, or other people who have sung them.
Mr. TAVENNER: Did you sing this song, to which we have referred, “Now Is the Time,” at Wingdale Lodge on the weekend of July Fourth?
Mr. SEEGER: I don’t know any song by that name, and I know a song with a similar name. It is called “Wasn’t That a Time.” Is that the song?
Chairman WALTER: Did you sing that song?
Mr. SEEGER: I can sing it. I don’t know how well I can do it without my banjo.
Chairman WALTER: I said, Did you sing it on that occasion?
Mr. SEEGER: I have sung that song. I am not going to go into where I have sung it. I have sung it many places.
Chairman WALTER: Did you sing it on this particular occasion? That is what you are being asked.
Mr. SEEGER: Again my answer is the same.
Chairman WALTER: You said that you would tell us about it.
Mr. SEEGER: I will tell you about the songs, but I am not going to tell you or try to explain—
Chairman WALTER: I direct you to answer the question. Did you sing this particular song on the Fourth of July at Wingdale Lodge in New York?
Mr. SEEGER: I have already given you my answer to that question, and all questions such as that. I feel that is improper: to ask about my associations and opinions. I have said that I would be voluntarily glad to tell you any song, or what I have done in my life.
Chairman WALTER: I think it is my duty to inform you that we don’t accept this answer and the others, and I give you an opportunity now to answer these questions, particularly the last one.
Mr. SEEGER: Sir, my answer is always the same.
Chairman WALTER: All right, go ahead, Mr. Tavenner.
Mr. TAVENNER: Were you chosen by Mr. Elliott Sullivan to take part in the program on the weekend of July Fourth at Wingdale Lodge?
Mr. SEEGER: The answer is the same, sir.
Mr. WILLIS: Was that the occasion of the satire on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
Mr. TAVENNER: The same occasion, yes, sir. I have before me a photostatic copy of a page from the June 1, 1949, issue of the Daily Worker, and in a column entitled “Town Talk” there is found this statement:
The first performance of a new song, “If I Had a Hammer,” on the theme of the Foley Square trial of the Communist leaders, will be given at a testimonial dinner for the 12 on Friday night at St. Nicholas Arena. . . . Among those on hand for the singing will be . . . Pete Seeger, and Lee Hays . . . and others whose names are mentioned. Did you take part in that performance?
Mr. SEEGER: I shall be glad to answer about the song, sir, and I am not interested in carrying on the line of questioning about where I have sung any songs.
Mr. TAVENNER: I ask a direction.
Chairman WALTER: You may not be interested, but we are, however. I direct you to answer. You can answer that question.
Mr. SEEGER: I feel these questions are improper, sir, and I feel they are immoral to ask any American this kind of question.
Mr. TAVENNER: Have you finished your answer?
Mr. SEEGER: Yes, sir. . . .
Mr. TAVENNER: Did you hear Mr. George Hall’s testimony yesterday in which he stated that, as an actor, the special contribution that he was expected to make to the Communist Party was to use his talents by entertaining at Communist Party functions? Did you hear that testimony?
Mr. SEEGER: I didn’t hear it, no.
Mr. TAVENNER: It is a fact that he so testified. I want to know whether or not you were engaged in a similar type of service to the Communist Party in entertaining at these features.
(Witness consulted with counsel.)
Mr. SEEGER: I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody. That is the only answer I can give along that line.
Chairman WALTER: Mr. Tavenner, are you getting around to that letter? There was a letter introduced yesterday that I think was of greater importance than any bit of evidence adduced at these hearings, concerning the attempt made to influence people in this professional performers’ guild and union to assist a purely Communist cause which had no relation whatsoever to the arts and the theater. Is that what you are leading up to?
Mr. TAVENNER: Yes, it is. That was the letter of Peter Lawrence, which I questioned him about yesterday. That related to the trial of the Smith Act defendants here at Foley Square. I am trying to inquire now whether this witness was party to the same type of propaganda effort by the Communist Party.
Mr. SCHERER: There has been no answer to your last question.
Mr. TAVENNER: That is right; may I have a direction?
Mr. SEEGER: Would you repeat the question? I don’t even know what the last question was, and I thought I have answered all of them up to now.
Mr. TAVENNER: What you stated was not in response to the question.
Chairman WALTER: Proceed with the questioning, Mr. Tavenner.
Mr. TAVENNER: I believe, Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I will have the question read to him. I think it should be put in exactly the same form.
(Whereupon the reporter read the pending question as above recorded.)
Mr. SEEGER: “These features”: what do you mean? Except for the answer I have already given you, I have no answer. The answer I gave you you have, don’t you? That is, that I am proud that I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I have never refused to sing for anybody because I disagreed with their political opinion, and I am proud of the fact that my songs seem to cut across and find perhaps a unifying thing, basic humanity, and that is why I would love to be able to tell you about these songs, because I feel that you would agree with me more, sir. I know many beautiful songs from your home county, Carbon, and Monroe, and I hitchhiked through there and stayed in the homes of miners.
Mr. TAVENNER: My question was whether or not you sang at these functions of the Communist Party. You have answered it inferentially, and if I understand your answer, you are saying you did.
Mr. SEEGER: Except for that answer, I decline to answer further. . . .
Mr. SCHERER: Do you understand it is the feeling of the Committee that you are in contempt as a result of the position you take?
Mr. SEEGER: I can’t say.
Mr. SCHERER: I am telling you that that is the position of the Committee. . . .
Mr. SEEGER: I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them….
Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Investigation of Communist Activities, New York Area (Entertainment): Hearings, 84th Congress, August 18, 1955
Pete Seeger, a personal friend and comrade died yesterday at the age of 94, just months after the passing of his wife of 70 years, Toshi.
Despite his advanced age, he did not live long enough to see the free world that he envisioned throughout his active political life.
He was more than just a Folk Singer, he was a singer for the folk. Those of us that had the opportunity and blessing of knowing him will miss him dearly. His legacy and music will live on for eternity which will ease our sorrow a bit, and will serve as a continual reminder that his work is undone and we must continue with it.
MAY HE REST IN PEACE IN A WORLD AT PEACE
The New York Times published the following obituary today … (including photos)
Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died Monday. He was 94 and lived in Beacon, N.Y.
His death was confirmed by his grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, who said he died of natural causes at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.
For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.
In his hearty tenor, Mr. Seeger, a beanpole of a man who most often played 12-string guitar or five-string banjo, sang topical songs and children’s songs, humorous tunes and earnest anthems, always encouraging listeners to join in. His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem.
Mr. Seeger was a prime mover in the folk revival that transformed popular music in the 1950s. As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Mr. Seeger was a mentor to younger folk and topical singers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, among them Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock. Decades later, Bruce Springsteen drew the songs on his 2006 album, “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” from Mr. Seeger’s repertoire of traditional music about a turbulent American experience, and in 2009 he performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with Mr. Seeger at the Obama inaugural. At a Madison Square Garden concert celebrating Mr. Seeger’s 90th birthday, Mr. Springsteen introduced him as “a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along.”
Although he recorded more than 100 albums, Mr. Seeger distrusted commercialism and was never comfortable with the idea of stardom. He invariably tried to use his celebrity to bring attention and contributions to the causes that moved him, or to the traditional songs he wanted to preserve.
Mr. Seeger saw himself as part of a continuing folk tradition, constantly recycling and revising music that had been honed by time.
During the McCarthy era Mr. Seeger’s political affiliations, including membership in the Communist Party in the 1940s, led to his being blacklisted and later indicted for contempt of Congress. The pressure broke up the Weavers, and Mr. Seeger disappeared from television until the late 1960s. But he never stopped recording, performing and listening to songs from ordinary people. Through the decades, his songs have become part of America’s folklore.
“My job,” he said in 2009, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.”
Peter Seeger was born on May 3, 1919, to Charles Seeger, a musicologist, and Constance de Clyver Edson Seeger, a concert violinist. His parents later divorced.
He began playing the ukulele while attending Avon Old Farms, a private boarding school in Connecticut. His father and his stepmother, the composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, were collecting and transcribing rural American folk music, as were folklorists like John and Alan Lomax. He heard the five-string banjo, which would become his main instrument, when his father took him to a square-dance festival in North Carolina.
Young Pete became enthralled by rural traditions. “I liked the strident vocal tone of the singers, the vigorous dancing,” he is quoted in “How Can I Keep From Singing,” a biography by David Dunaway. “The words of the songs had all the meat of life in them. Their humor had a bite, it was not trivial. Their tragedy was real, not sentimental.”
Planning to be a journalist, Mr. Seeger attended Harvard, where he founded a radical newspaper and joined the Young Communist League. After two years, he dropped out and came to New York City, where Mr. Lomax introduced him to the blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly. Mr. Lomax also helped Mr. Seeger find a job cataloging and transcribing music at the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress.
Mr. Seeger met Mr. Guthrie, a songwriter who shared his love of vernacular music and agitprop ambitions, in 1940, when they performed at a benefit concert for migrant California workers. Traveling across the United States with Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Seeger picked up some of his style and repertory. He also hitchhiked and hopped freight trains by himself, trading and learning songs.
When he returned to New York later in 1940, Mr. Seeger made his first albums. He, Millard Lampell and Mr. Hays founded the Almanac Singers, who performed union songs and, until Germany invaded the Soviet Union, antiwar songs, following the Communist Party line. Mr. Guthrie soon joined the group.
During World War II the Almanac Singers’s repertory turned to patriotic, antifascist songs, bringing them a broad audience, including a prime-time national radio spot. But the group’s earlier antiwar songs, the target of an F.B.I. investigation, came to light, and the group’s career plummeted.
Before the group completely dissolved, however, Mr. Seeger was drafted in 1942 and assigned to a unit of performers. He married Toshi-Aline Ohta while on furlough in 1943.
When he returned from the war he founded People’s Songs Inc., which published political songs and presented concerts for several years before going bankrupt. He also started his nightclub career, performing at the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village. Mr. Seeger and Paul Robeson toured with the campaign of Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party presidential candidate, in 1948.
Mr. Seeger invested $1,700 in 17 acres of land overlooking the Hudson River in Beacon and began building a log cabin there in the late 1940s. In 1949, Mr. Seeger, Mr. Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman started working together as the Weavers. They were signed to Decca Records by Gordon Jenkins, the company’s music director and an arranger for Frank Sinatra. With Mr. Jenkins’s elaborate orchestral arrangements, the group recorded a repertoire that stretched from “If I Had a Hammer” to a South African song, “Wimoweh” (the title was Mr. Seeger’s mishearing of “Mbube,” the name of a South African hit by Solomon Linda), to an Israeli soldiers’ song, “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,” to a cleaned-up version of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene.” Onstage, they also sang more pointed topical songs.
In 1950 and 1951 the Weavers were national stars, with hit singles and engagements at major nightclubs. Their hits included “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and Mr. Guthrie’s “So Long (It’s Been Good to Know Yuh),” and they sold an estimated four million singles and albums.
But “Red Channels,” an influential pamphlet listing performers with suspected Communist ties, appeared in June 1950 and listed Mr. Seeger, although by then he had quit the Communist Party. He would later criticize himself for having not left the party sooner, though he continued to describe himself as a “communist with a small ‘c.’ ”
Despite the Weavers’ commercial success, by the summer of 1951 the “Red Channels” citation and leaks from F.B.I. files had led to the cancellation of television appearances. In 1951, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee investigated the Weavers for sedition. And in February 1952, a former member of People’s Songs testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee that three of the four Weavers were members of the Communist Party.
As engagements dried up the Weavers disbanded, though they reunited periodically in the mid-1950s. After the group recorded an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes, Mr. Seeger left, citing his objection to promoting tobacco use.
Shut out of national exposure, Mr. Seeger returned primarily to solo concerts, touring college coffeehouses, churches, schools and summer camps, building an audience for folk music among young people. He started to write a long-running column for the folk-song magazine Sing Out! And he recorded prolifically for the independent Folkways label, singing everything from children’s songs to Spanish Civil War anthems.
In 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he testified, “I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature.” He also stated: “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”
Mr. Seeger offered to sing the songs mentioned by the congressmen who questioned him. The committee declined.
Mr. Seeger was indicted in 1957 on 10 counts of contempt of Congress. He was convicted in 1961 and sentenced to a year in prison, but the next year an appeals court dismissed the indictment as faulty. After the indictment, Mr. Seeger’s concerts were often picketed by the John Birch Society and other rightist groups. “All those protests did was sell tickets and get me free publicity,” he later said. “The more they protested, the bigger the audiences became.”
By then, the folk revival was prospering. In 1959, Mr. Seeger was among the founders of the Newport Folk Festival. The Kingston Trio’s version of Mr. Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” reached the Top 40 in 1962, soon followed by Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of “If I Had a Hammer,” which rose to the Top 10.
Mr. Seeger was signed to a major label, Columbia Records, in 1961, but he remained unwelcome on network television. “Hootenanny,” an early-1960s show on ABC that capitalized on the folk revival, refused to book Mr. Seeger, causing other performers (including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary) to boycott it. “Hootenanny” eventually offered to present Mr. Seeger if he would sign a loyalty oath. He refused.
He toured the world, performing and collecting folk songs, in 1963, and returned to serenade civil rights advocates, who had made a rallying song of his “We Shall Overcome.”
Like many of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “We Shall Overcome” had convoluted traditional roots. It was based on old gospel songs, primarily “I’ll Overcome,” a hymn that striking tobacco workers had sung on a picket line in South Carolina. A slower version, “We Will Overcome,” was collected from one of the workers, Lucille Simmons, by Zilphia Horton, the musical director of the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn., which trained union organizers.
Ms. Horton taught it to Mr. Seeger, and her version of “We Will Overcome” was published in the People’s Songs newsletter. Mr. Seeger changed “We will” to “We shall” and added verses (“We’ll walk hand in hand”). He taught it to the singers Frank Hamilton, who would join the Weavers in 1962, and Guy Carawan, who became musical director at Highlander in the ‘50s. Mr. Carawan taught the song to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at its founding convention.
The song was copyrighted by Mr. Seeger, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Carawan and Ms. Horton. “At that time we didn’t know Lucille Simmons’s name,” Mr. Seeger wrote in his 1993 autobiography, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” All of the song’s royalties go to the “We Shall Overcome” Fund, administered by what is now the Highlander Research and Education Center, which provides grants to African-Americans organizing in the South.
Along with many elders of the protest-song movement, Mr. Seeger felt betrayed when Bob Dylan appeared at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with a loud electric blues band. Reports emerged that Mr. Seeger had tried to cut the power cable with an ax, but witnesses including the producer George Wein and the festival’s production manager, Joe Boyd (later a leading folk-rock record producer), said he did not go that far. (An ax was available, however. A group of prisoners had used it while singing a logging song.)
As the United States grew divided over the Vietnam War, Mr. Seeger wrote “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” an antiwar song with the refrain “The big fool says to push on.” He performed the song during a taping of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in September 1967, his return to network television, but it was cut before the show was broadcast. After the Smothers Brothers publicized the censorship, Mr. Seeger returned to perform the song for broadcast in February 1968.
During the late 1960s Mr. Seeger started an improbable project: a sailing ship that would crusade for cleaner water on the Hudson River. Between other benefit concerts he raised money to build the Clearwater, a 106-foot sloop that was launched in June 1969 with a crew of musicians. The ship became a symbol and a rallying point for antipollution efforts and education.
In May 2009, after decades of litigation and environmental activism led by Mr. Seeger’s nonprofit environmental organization, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, General Electric began dredging sediment containing PCBs it had dumped into the Hudson. Mr. Seeger and his wife also helped organize a yearly summer folk festival named after the Clearwater.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s Mr. Seeger toured regularly with Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son, and continued to lead singalongs and perform benefit concerts. Recognition and awards arrived. He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, and in 1993 he was given a lifetime achievement Grammy Award. In 1994, President Bill Clinton handed him the National Medal of Arts, America’s highest arts honor, given by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1999, he traveled to Cuba to receive the Order of Félix Varela, Cuba’s highest cultural award, for his “humanistic and artistic work in defense of the environment and against racism.”
In 1996, Mr. Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence. Arlo Guthrie, who paid tribute at the ceremony, mentioned that the Weavers’ hit “Goodnight, Irene” reached No. 1, only to add, “I can’t think of a single event in Pete’s life that is probably less important to him.” Mr. Seeger made no acceptance speech, but he did lead a singalong of “Goodnight, Irene,” flanked by Stevie Wonder, David Byrne and members of the Jefferson Airplane.
Mr. Seeger won Grammy Awards for best traditional folk album in 1997, for the album “Pete,” and in 2009, for the album “At 89.” He also won a Grammy in the children’s music category in 2011 for “Tomorrow’s Children.”
Mr. Seeger kept performing into the 21st century, despite a flagging voice; audiences happily sang along more loudly. He celebrated his 90th birthday, on May 3, 2009, at a Madison Square Garden concert — a benefit for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater — with Mr. Springsteen, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Joan Baez, Ani DiFranco, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Emmylou Harris and dozens of other musicians paying tribute. In August he was back in Newport for the 50th anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival.
Mr. Seeger’s wife, Toshi, died in 2013, days before the couple’s 70th anniversary. Survivors include his son, Daniel; his daughters, Mika and Tinya; a half-sister, Peggy; and six grandchildren, including the musician Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, who performed with him at the Obama inaugural. His half-brother Mike Seeger, a folklorist and performer who founded the New Lost City Ramblers, died in 2009.
Through the years, Mr. Seeger remained determinedly optimistic. “The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”
Another tribute can be read HERE
Shulamit Aloni died on Friday at the age of 86. She was a rebel within zion, a former lawmaker, always a friend of Palestine and one of Israel’s greatest advocates of Peace. She will be missed and her memory will forever be cherished by those who shared her values.
Former political allies and opponents alike lauded her on Friday as a boundary-breaking pioneer for peace, “a moral compass,” “a special breed,” “an inspiration for all women” and a “pillar of fire.”
From a Democracy Now interview …
Her obituary from today’s New York Times ….
By JODI RUDOREN
Shulamit Aloni, a longtime left-wing Israeli minister and Parliament member who was an early champion of civil liberties, challenger of religious hegemony and outspoken opponent of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, died Friday at her home in Kfar Shmaryahu, a Tel Aviv suburb. She was 86.
One of her sons, Nimrod, said she had not been seriously ill, “just very old.”
Mrs. Aloni, an elected lawmaker for 28 years, was the author of six books, including one of Israel’s earliest texts on civics. She was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 2000 “for her struggle to right injustices and for raising the standard of equality.”
In 2008, at age 80, she published “Israel: Democracy or Ethnocracy?” a harsh assessment of her homeland. She wrote on the cover, “The state is returning to the ghetto, to Orthodox Judaism, and the rule of the fundamentalist rabbinate is becoming more profound.”
Reuven Rivlin, a Parliament member from the conservative Likud Party, described Mrs. Aloni on Friday as “the last politician in her generation who said what she thought.” But her outspokenness also made for problems.
In 1992, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin rebuked her for questioning the biblical version of Creation and speaking in the same breath of the Hebrew matriarch Rachel and the prostitute Rahav. The next year, after Mrs. Aloni’s challenging of religious political leaders provoked a coalition crisis, Rabin demoted her from education minister to minister of communications and science and technology.
After Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Muslims at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994, she was among the first to call for the expulsion of hundreds of Jewish settlers from the West Bank city of Hebron. She also said that high school trips to Holocaust sites were turning Israeli youths into xenophobes, and she incited outrage by holding official meetings abroad in nonkosher restaurants.
Former political allies and opponents alike lauded her on Friday as a boundary-breaking pioneer for peace, “a moral compass,” “a special breed,” “an inspiration for all women” and a “pillar of fire.”
“It was impossible not to admire such a combative woman who fought for what she believed in and was prepared to pay the price,” said Geula Cohen, who founded a right-wing faction and frequently faced off with her in Parliament.
Yossi Sarid, who in 1996 successfully challenged Mrs. Aloni for leadership of the far-left Meretz Party, called her “a phenomenon” who feared “absolutely nothing.”
“How did we first become acquainted with civil rights? How did we first discover the occupation?” Mr. Sarid, now a political analyst, asked rhetorically Friday morning on Israel Radio. “She wanted to change the national and social agenda, and she did so, on her own, by virtue of her own capabilities, and attained great and unparalleled achievements.”
Although some sources say she was 85, her son Nimrod said she was 86 and was born in December 1927. Born Shulamit Adler in Tel Aviv to Polish immigrant parents, she fought in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.
She started her political career with the Labor-Alignment faction, then helped create the Citizens’ Rights Movement and, later, Meretz. She was married for 36 years to Reuven Aloni, who died in 1988. She is survived by their three sons, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Her death was a reminder of the decline of the left among Jews in Israel. Labor’s last prime minister was Ehud Barak in 2001, and Labor and Meretz combined hold 21 of Parliament’s 120 seats today. When Mrs. Aloni left elected office, they had 56.
“The pillar of fire has been extinguished,” the advocacy group Peace Now lamented in a statement.
The Empire State Building lit in the colors of the South African Flag to observe the passing of Nelson Mandela, New York City, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.AP
A man holds up candles to a mural in Harlem depicting former South African President Nelson Mandela on Dec. 5, 2013. (credit: Getty Images)
The marquee at the historic Apollo Theater announces the death of former South African President and civil rights champion Nelson Mandela, on December 5, 2013. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
The very powers that ardently support Israel’s apartheid state are the ones shedding the most crocodile tears at the passing of Nelson Mandela. Where were their tears and support when he sat in prison for 27 years? Where are their tears for the thousands of Palestinians who perished under Israel’s occupation of their land?
Even The Royal Family …..
See THIS report to see who else
Their tears are literally dropping on the checks they are sending in support of Israeli apartheid …..
Hypocrisy at its greatest.
Don’t miss this post from last night