TRIBUTE TO A SURVIVOR THAT LIVED THE MANTRA “NEVER AGAIN”

As Israelis commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, we here at DesertPeace pay tribute to one survivor that truly believed in the words “NEVER AGAIN” …TO ANYONE!

In Memory of Hedy Eptein

Hedy Epstein in her St. Louis neighborhood
Photo provided by Dianne Lee

A post that appeared at the time of her passing …

Holocaust survivor and activist Hedy Epstein passes at 91

(St. Louis Public Radio) – Hedy Epstein was arrested 10 days after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, in August 2014.

She didn’t like the way people who were demonstrating against the killing were being treated by police and the National Guard, so she joined a group of peaceful protesters. They marched to Gov. Jay Nixon’s office in the Wainwright Building in downtown St. Louis.

Arrest wasn’t initially in her plans, but Ms. Epstein figured if she could survive the Holocaust, she could survive a brief stint in jail, even if she was 90 years old.

“I was just going to be somebody in the crowd,” Ms. Epstein told Newsweek. “I guess maybe I was impulsive: Someone said, ‘Who is willing to be arrested if that happens?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m willing.’”

Ms. Epstein, who had been on the front lines of fighting for causes she believed in for most of her life, died Thursday, May 26, of advanced metastatic cancer at her home in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood. She was 91.

“I’ve been an activist since I was 16,” Ms. Epstein said last year as she walked briskly near her Waterman Boulevard condo, something she’d done almost daily for the past 30 years. She expressed no dismay at being arrested at 90 on failure to disperse charges (later dismissed), saying simply: “Why not me? They handcuffed all nine of us.”

After the massive protests died down, the Black Lives Matter movement continued. Ms. Epstein supported the effort by putting a Black Lives Matter sign in her window, despite knowing that someone had complained about another neighbor doing so.

“I did not take my sign down,” Ms. Epstein smiled defiantly, “and no one said anything about it.”

Escaping the Holocaust

Few people dared cross Ms. Epstein, a diminutive force to be reckoned with. Her fearlessness had been forged by the horrors of the Holocaust.

Hedwig Wachenheimer was born Aug. 15, 1924, in Freiburg, Germany. As Adolph Hitler rose to power, her parents began to see signs of trouble to come.

The Nazis confiscated the dry goods business her father operated with his brother. Ms. Epstein was kicked out of school with the words of her principal ringing in her ears: “Get out, you dirty Jew!” That day, she arrived home to a ransacked house. Her father was arrested and led away in his pajamas.

Unable to secure travel documents for themselves, Ms. Epstein’s parents, Hugo and Ella (Eichel) Wachenheimer, arranged for their 14-year-old only child to escape Germany on May 18, 1939. She traveled to England on a ship as part of Kindertransport, the British rescue operation that saved 10,000 children from the Nazis. Her parents died at Auschwitz in the summer of 1942.

Most of Ms. Epstein’s relatives did not survive the Holocaust. She remained in England until 1945, when she returned to Germany to work as a research analyst for U.S. prosecutors during the Nuremberg Doctors Trial.

A Matter of Justice

Ms. Epstein immigrated to the United States in 1948. She arrived in New York City and immediately began working at the New York Association for New Americans, an agency that brought Holocaust survivors to the U.S.

She and her husband, Arnie, whom she later divorced, moved to St. Louis in the early 1960s. She soon became a volunteer with the Freedom of Residence, Greater St. Louis, an organization that was instrumental in ending housing discrimination in the city. She became the organization’s executive director in the mid-1970s. During the 1980s, Ms. Epstein worked as a paralegal for Chackes and Hoare, a law firm that represented individuals in employment discrimination cases.

As an advocate for equality and human rights, Ms. Epstein spoke out against the war in Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia, and restrictive U.S. immigration policies. She supported the Haitian boat people and women’s reproductive rights, and, after the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Ms. Epstein began her work for peace and justice in Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories.

Throughout her life, Ms. Epstein continued to advocate for a more peaceful world. In 2002, she was a founding member of the St. Louis Instead of War Coalition. Much of her later activism centered on efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

In 2014, she jumped eagerly into Black Lives Matter.

“It’s a matter of racism and injustice, and it’s not only in Ferguson… .” she told Newsweek during the volatile period following Brown’s death. “Racism is alive and well in the United States.”

“Her life was about service and it was about justice, about everybody having the right to be treated fairly and with dignity,” said her longtime friend and fellow activist, Dianne Lee. “Everything she did was motivated by that.”

Ms. Epstein founded the St. Louis chapter of Women in Black and co-founded the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and the St. Louis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. She traveled to the West Bank several times, first as a volunteer with the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement and repeatedly as a witness to advocate for Palestinian human rights. She attempted several times to go to Gaza as a passenger with the Freedom Flotilla, including as a passenger on the Audacity of Hope, and once with the Gaza Freedom March.

Her autobiography, Erinnern ist nicht genug: Autobiographie von Hedy Epstein (“Remembering Is Not Enough: The Autobiography of Hedy Epstein”), was published in 1999 by Unrast-Verlag, a German company and is available in German.

As a member of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center’s speakers’ bureau, she gave countless talks at schools and community events. She shared her Holocaust experiences with thousands of Missouri youth as a featured speaker at the Missouri Scholars Academy for more than 20 years. She was a sought-after national and international speaker.

Not Guilty

Ms. Epstein concluded every presentation with “If we don’t try to make a difference, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try to right the wrong that we see that is happening, we become complicit.”

“I’m sure I’m guilty of a lot of things,” she said, “but I don’t want to be guilty of not having tried my best to make a difference.”

Myriad honors confirmed her relentless pursuit of justice. They included a Fair Housing Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1975. In 1988, she received the Inspiration for Hope Award from the American Friends Service Committee and the Ethical Humanist of the Year Award from the Ethical Society of St. Louis.

In recent years, she was honored with the Imagine Life Education through Media Award and the American Friends Service Committee’s “Inspiration for Hope Award.

Survivors include her son Howard (Terry) Epstein, of Columbus, Ohio, and granddaughters Courtney and Kelly.

 

GOOGLE PAYS TRIBUTE TO MAYA ANGELOU

If you click on Google today you will find a tribute to Maya Angelou who would have been 90 today. 

Happy Birthday dear comrade

Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” icon Maya Angelou gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before.  

Dr. Angelou’s was a prolific life; as a singer, dancer, activist, poet, and writer she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries.

PALESTINE’S SWEETEST VOICE HAS BEEN SILENCED

Rim Banna sang for Palestine, for resistance, for freedom, for resilience, for unity, for prisoners, for martyrs, for hope. Her body left us, but her soul, smile, words, songs will always live in our hearts..

Image by Carlos Latuff

 

She sang for freedom, revolutions, political prisoners and much more. She specialized in children’s songs, something that distinguished her remarkably. With three children’s albums, she has revived traditional children’s lullabies and, through them, became present in every Palestinian house and every child’s memories.  

She let everyone enter her life through her thoughts and photos on her active social media accounts. She shared her fears, her feelings, her wisdom and her optimism.

Rest in Peace dear Comrade

راحة في سلام عزيزي الرفيق

rahatan fi salam eazizii alrafiq

CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF STEPHEN HAWKING ~~ A FOND FAREWELL

British scientist Stephen Hawking dies at age 76

Despite his personal torment (or perhaps because of it) he cared about all those suffering throughout the world.

He will truly be missed.

Here is a photo of a young Stephen Hawking (with the canes) in London marching against the war in Vietnam in 1969.

 

More than 30 years later he spoke out fervently against the war in Iraq. He also joined the BDS movement against Israel, calling the situation “like that in South Africa before 1990. It cannot continue.”

He wasn’t just one of the most brilliant minds of our times, he was also someone with a social conscience and critical of capitalism, saying:

“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”


Rest in power, Stephen Hawking.

FROM

Carlos Latuff honoured this giant of a man with the following in 2013 …

Maximum respect to Stephen Hawking who in 2013 refused to participate of a conference in Israel to protest against the occupation of Palestine

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. PRESIDENT

Truly a Republican worth loving …..
Lincoln Mural by Hugo Gellert
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All young children have heroes …. mine was Abraham Lincoln. His name, as well as his image were very much a part of my childhood.
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There was a savings bank in my neighbourhood which carried his name. The upper wall was adorned with a mural of Lincoln leading the slaves to freedom, very much in the style of Moses doing the same thing.
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The local High School, which I attended, was Abraham Lincoln High School. The Brigade of brave American volunteers that went off to fight Franco and his fascists in Spain was named the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, definitely the bravest men I ever met.
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So, wherever I went, whatever I did, the image of Abraham Lincoln was forever present.
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Today, 209 years after his birth, he is still my hero,  a man whose visions of justice would be welcome in America today.

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Happy Birthday Mr. President!
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His famous speech in Gettysburg is still an inspiration for all who strive for Statehood and Freedom….
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The Gettysburg Address
———————————————————–

– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – Nov. 19, 1863

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

 

Image of Lincoln by Charles White


POETIC TRIBUTE TO MY FRIEND RICKY EISENBERG

Earlier in the year one of my oldest and dearest friends passed away. This past Saturday a memorial was held for him in New York City. Here is a report of the event written by another dear friend, Matt Weinstein…

Hundreds filed into the Church of the Redeemer on West 83rd Street for a fitting tribute and memorial to Ricky Eisenberg who died on February 3, 2017 after doing battle with a protracted illness.

The hundreds included friends, old and new, fellow activists and comrades, beloved family members and others who came into contact with Ricky through the years. Dedicated to a better world, one free of war and injustice, Ricky Eisenberg fought his entire life with a passion and a principled, uncompromising determination to forge change for his fellow human beings.

The afternoon was presided over by Rickly’s sister Nora who introducted us to speaker after speaker who regaled the gathering with anecdotes and stories of their relationship with the man. Daughters brought Ricky to life in front of our eyes by recounting his great humor (which we all knew and loved), his caricatures of multitude personalities, his love of music and food (pastrami was most often noted) and more .

We were treated to performances that inspired us. Particularly moving were the several pieces by the great NYC Labor Chorus, including John Lennon’s Imagine. That was especially relevant to this memorial because it envisioned a new world, something that Ricky stood and fought for. A newly-formed group of young girls, the Riverdale Youth Chorus, were also wonderful and they brought down the house with a charming performance of one of Ricky’s favorites: Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?

Later we heard from the family: both daughters joined with granddaughter Grace to perform a song she had written. Though the program ran on for several hours, we were entranced throughout because Ricky was such an important part of our lives and because he was truly “larger than life” as was said in one of the speeches. This was a moving memorial to a man who had an impact on everyone who knew him. We then celebrated Ricky’s love of good food by repairing to another room for sandwiches, wine and dessert. A great way to finish the day. Ricky—we love you and will not forget you. This we promise.

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And finally a poetic tribute to Ricky written by my dearest friend, Tom Karlson…

Ricky
73 years, a life
too short
two years of war,
every day a battle
the weapons, laughter and courage
Gracie, Jackson, Annie, Julie, Sara, Nora, and Katie
and a battalion of family, friends, and comrades
life lengthened and sweetened by that great thirst
to right all things wrong
with eye and brain and heart and body
to do wht must be done

it is late August 1960
West Harlem CCNY Convent Avenue 133st
meeting of the Marxist Discussion Club
we Don Quixotes are declaring war
war on the ban against communist speakers
STRIKE!
and strike we did
10,000 students on the street
a call for Ban the Ban
a call for Free Speach
Ben Davis and Herbert Aptheker came to speak

this, the beginning
marches, demonstrations, strikes, meets, Mayday

our position no tuition
Hands off Cuba, Cuba Si Yankee No
and when the CIA murdered Lumumba, Congo prime minister
down to the UN we went
chanting who’s the man who’s got to, go Dag Hammarskjold

a bus ride to Washington
to support Cuba
a time for song story and joke
a time where
art politics struggle mate gyrate
a time of incubation
when Cuba, antiwar’ civil rights, 
student’s rights, labor’s rights, women’s rights 
set the stage for a half a century 
of friendship, food, love, and class war

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Here is a photo of Tom reciting the poem at the memorial

Photo by Matt Weinstein

CARRIE FISHER’S SENSE OF HUMOUR FOLLOWS HER TO THE GRAVE

The vessel for the ashes? An extra large Prozac pill doubling as an urn, showing that Carrie Fisher’s sense of humor about just about everything, including her mental illness, lives on.

Fisher spent years as a mental health advocate and even battled mental illness herself. In her interviews and in books, Fisher worked to break the stigma around mental illness and divulged her bipolar disorder over a decade ago.

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Carrie Fisher’s Ashes Placed in Giant Prozac Pill Urn

Todd Fisher brought the cremated remains of his sister Carrie Fisher to the private memorial for their mother Debbie Reynolds on Friday in Los Angeles.

The vessel for the ashes? An extra large Prozac pill doubling as an urn, showing that Carrie Fisher’s sense of humor about just about everything, including her mental illness, lives on.

“Carrie’s favorite possession was a giant Prozac pill that she bought many years ago. A big pill,” Todd explained to Entertainment Tonight. “She loved it, and it was in her house, and Billie and I felt it was where she’d want to be.”

Todd also shared how he and the rest of the family are doing in the wake of the two deaths.

“Everybody’s as settled as we can be, and we’re not going to go any further,” Todd told reporters. “We’ll have a bigger service down the road for the public and all the family friends, but this was a private family service and we’re — it was fitting and it was beautiful.”

The date for the memorial hasn’t been set, but Todd noted that there are still ways to commemorate the late actresses.

“We have so much of them that was left behind,” he added. “All of my sister’s words and all the movies, and all the things that they created. That’s what we need to remember.”

Fisher spent years as a mental health advocate and even battled mental illness herself. In her interviews and in books, Fisher worked to break the stigma around mental illness and divulged her bipolar disorder over a decade ago.

Some of Fisher’s remains were buried with her mother.

TOUCHING TRIBUTES TO CARRIE FISHER FROM INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS

She was not only an iconic female figure in media, one of the earliest strong female characters that young girls everywhere looked up to, she was also an advocate for mental health, sharing her own story of dealing with depression and addictions and in doing so, giving a voice to those struggling with these issues.

Monika Report

Monika 

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charamath

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Chris 'ROY' Taylor

Chris ‘ROY’ Taylor

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Carlos Latuff

Carlos Latuff

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MJHiblenART

MJHiblenART

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BrzS

All FROM

HELEN KELLER; BLIND, DEAF, BUT FAR FROM DUMB

A childhood illness rendered this dear woman blind, deaf and dumb ….

Yet, in adulthood she saw more than most people, heard of the injustices facing humanity and spoke volumes about it all.

“What are you committed to,” an interviewer asked her in 1916, “education or revolution?” “Revolution,” Keller replied.

The following poem was written in honour of her 136th birthday on the 27th of June

teacher-by-helen-keller-3-728

THREE LIVES

© By Tom Karlson

born June 27th, 1880

partial death two years later

coffined by the fever

without sound, without light, without words

for six years

hot and cold, odors, winds, vibrations

tantrum without words

nightmare without sound

 

blind deaf mute

but wait

Anne Sullivan is coming

grave robber and miracle worker

teaching Helen

turning lips into words, thoughts, visions

teaching Helen Braille, finger spelling,

signs and speech

vibration into pitch

pitch into Beethoven

thought into books, speeches

 

thought into action

socialism, the IWW,

labor rights, women’s rights, civil rights anti war

joins Debs’ Socialist Party

when Debs was jailed

when the ACLU was founded

Helen carried the card

when communism was under fire

Helen joined the fray

 

our blind deaf Helen roars

sees, hears, talks and writes of evil

the evils of war

the evils of exploitation

the evils of capitalism

A MUST WATCH ~~ RABBINICAL ACCOLADE FOR THE CHAMP

This is absolutely brilliant!

This is going viral on the Net …. please share with your friends

A POEM FOR THE GREATEST

Image by Carlos Latuff

Image by Carlos Latuff

 THE GREATEST

© By Tom Karlson

born Cassias Clay1942, became Mohammed Ali 1965

yes he held the Olympic gold

laid out Sunny the bear Liston two times

for the world heavyweight belt

joined the Nation of Islam before the 2nd Liston fight

a warm up for what was coming

 

these epic battles were not against

the brothers’ Frazier and Foreman

when Ali refused induction

brought on a waterfall of hate

this enemy could not be defeated with fist and rhyme,

with bouts of fifteen 3 minute rounds

inside the squared circle

 

this foe, a shape changer

from war, to racism, to religious hatred

this main event reverberated

for three and one-half years

of banishment from boxing

the enemy was defeated with brain and talk

with picket line and printed word and the highest court

 

Ali’s fight and victory resonated

from Alabama to Rubens Island

from Billie Jean King to the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee

and the hundreds of campuses that cheered the champ

 

defeated for a time was the pentagon,

the ugly race hating half of America,

the war-profiteers, and their embedded sports writers

 

winner was tolerance and understanding

and how we were taught by the champ

to fight for our beliefs

 

In April 1967, Ali refused to be drafted and requested conscientious-objector status. He was immediately stripped of his title by boxing commissions around the country. Several months later he was convicted of draft evasion, a verdict he appealed. Credit Ed Kolenovsky/Associated Press

In April 1967, Ali refused to be drafted and requested conscientious-objector status. He was immediately stripped of his title by boxing commissions around the country. Several months later he was convicted of draft evasion, a verdict he appealed. Credit Ed Kolenovsky/Associated Press

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. PRESIDENT

Lincoln Mural by Hugo Gellert
&
*
All young children have heroes …. mine was Abraham Lincoln. His name, as well as his image were very much a part of my childhood.
*
There was a savings bank in my neighbourhood which carried his name. The upper wall was adorned with a mural of Lincoln leading the slaves to freedom, very much in the style of Moses doing the same thing.
*
The local High School, which I attended, was Abraham Lincoln High School. The Brigade of brave American volunteers that went off to fight Franco and his fascists in Spain was named the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, definitely the bravest men I ever met.
*
So, wherever I went, whatever I did, the image of Abraham Lincoln was forever present.
*
Today, 207 years after his birth, he is still my hero,  a man whose visions of justice would be welcome in America today.

 *

Happy Birthday Mr. President!
*
His famous speech in Gettysburg is still an inspiration for all who strive for Statehood and Freedom….
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The Gettysburg Address
———————————————————–

– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – Nov. 19, 1863

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

 

 

Image of Lincoln by Charles White


DESERTPEACE STANDS IN SILENCE TODAY FOR THE PASSING OF A TRUE WOMAN OF VALOR

 

Anne Yellin / Photo by Matt Weinstein

Anne Yellin / Photo by Matt Weinstein

This morning I received an email from Sue, the daughter of the woman pictured above, informing me of the passing of her mother Anne Yellin yesterday, just a month short of her 99th birthday. She lived a full life and changed the lives of many who knew and loved her, including my own.

Anne played a special role in my life and I credit her more than anyone else for making me what I am today. It was she that handed me the leaflet in front of Woolworth’s in 1960 …. the leaflet that changed my life as can be seen in THIS post from the archives.

Anne was a pillar of the community I grew up in, known to all and loved by all. She was predeceased by her loving husband Jack, a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, in his own right, a true hero. She is survived by two loving daughters and Sue and Nancy and their children. May they all be comforted in the knowledge that the memory of their mother and grandmother will live on for years to come.

Bella Ciao dear Comrade and Friend!

My dear friend Matt Weinstein adds the following …

A good friend and one of the great “old-timer” activists and champions of peace and justice passed away today: Ann Yellin. She was a friend of my parents and a doting mom to her two daughters, Sue and Nancy as well as a very loving grandma. Ann, an RN by trade who worked for many years at Coney Island Hospital, was married to Jack Yellin, a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade—those courageous premature anti-fascists who fought in Spain before WW II, standing up to Franco and his backer, Hitler. And she was very proud of him. He died a long time ago but Ann carried his memory with her as the years passed and that memory helped bolster her to carry on. Ann was active throughout her life—she was a member of the Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach chapter of Women Strike For Peace, fighting for a world free of the nuclear threat and then later in the Shorefront Peace Committee—its successor. Strongly opinionated but never wavering in her commitment, Ann Yellin was a strong partisan of socialism and with that as her goal she was one of those rare women who translate their beliefs and world outlook into concrete action on behalf of humanity. She was a beautiful woman—inside and out. We won’t soon forget her and the larger than life contributions she made for a better world.Ann died a month before her 99th birthday.

In honour of Anne’s 90th birthday, Matt wrote the following … (Click on link)

THE GREATEST GENERATION~~ A GUEST POST

Matt and Anne in happier times ...

Matt and Anne in happier times …

And finally, a Biblical tribute to our wonderful Woman of Valor …

Eshet Chayil אשת חיל (Psalm 31 Hebrew and English text translation)

IN MEMORY OF THE MAN WHO NEVER DIED

One Hundred years later New Yorkers remember …

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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You too can keep his memory alive!

Remembering the Life and Music of Labor Agitator Joe Hill, Who Was Executed 100 Years Ago Today

BY DAVID COCHRAN

He was killed by firing squad in the state of Utah on November 19, 1915.

He was killed by firing squad in the state of Utah on November 19, 1915.

Joe Hill saw his music as a weapon in the class war, composing songs to be sung on soapboxes, picket lines or in jail. And 100 years ago today, the forces of capital and the state of Utah executed him.

Chicago musician and scholar Bucky Halker is honoring the centennial with a CD of new interpretations of Hill’s music, “Anywhere But Utah—The Songs of Joe Hill,” taking his title from Hill’s dying wish that his remains be transported out of state because he didn’t want “to be found dead in Utah.” The album includes such familiar Hill classics as “The Preacher and the Slave,” “There is Power in a Union” and “Rebel Girl” as well as some surprising obscurities, like the wistfully romantic “Come and Take a Joy-Ride in My Aeroplane.”

Born Joel Hagglund in Sweden, Hill immigrated to the United States in 1902, changing his name to Joseph Hillstrom, which would eventually be shortened to Joe Hill. Working his way across the country, Hill became politicized, eventually joining the Industrial Workers of the World. Popularly known as the Wobblies, the IWW sought to organize those workers more mainstream unions avoided—the unskilled, migrants, immigrants, minorities—in an effort to combine the entire working class into One Big Union.

As a Wobbly, Hill was active in free speech fights in Fresno and San Diego, a strike of railroad construction workers in British Columbia and even fought in the Mexican Revolution.

In 1914, Hill was arrested in Salt Lake City and charged with killing a storekeeper, allegedly in a botched robbery. Despite the flimsy nature of the evidence, Hill was convicted and sentenced to death, with the prosecutor urging conviction as much on the basis of Hill’s IWW membership as any putative evidence of his involvement in the crime. An international amnesty movement pressed for a new trial, but the Utah governor refused and Hill was executed by firing squad on November 19, 1915. In a final message to IWW General Secretary Bill Haywood, Hill urged, “Don’t waste any time in mourning—organize.”

Since his death, Hill has been immortalized in a wide variety of cultural expression, including poetry by Kenneth Patchen, fiction by Wallace Stegner, and a song by Alfred Hayes and Earl Robinson, popularized by Paul Robeson, promising “where workingmen are out on strike, Joe Hill is at their side.”

I talked to Halker about Hill’s music, politics and legacy. Halker is the author of the seminal work on Gilded Age labor music,For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-95, and has previously released a tribute album to Woody Guthrie.

For one who was not a native English speaker, Joe Hill had a keen understanding of American slang, humor, and various folk and popular song forms. How did he become such a master of the American vernacular? How does he compare with other folksingers closely associated with insurgent movements, such as Woody Guthrie?

Hill is part of a long tradition of “organic” intellectuals in the USA. He was also just plain smart, which you can tell from reading his lyrics and other writing. He was self-educated, with an appetite for ideas. And remember that the labor movement was filled with men and women of this sort, dating to the early 19th century. Unions, of course, often had their own libraries, so workers could check out literature related to everything from poetry to economics. Also, cheap pamphlets on the issues of the day, including Marxism, were extremely common in the years after the Civil War and well into the 20th century. If you look at the people who wrote labor music and poetry, they typically share this kind of background.

Hill and Guthrie also share a tremendous skill in the realm of vernacular speech. He mastered all this hobo and Wobbly slang of the era and the latest music-hall, vaudeville lyrics of the day. Also, Hill’s work is filled with humor, irony and sarcasm—hardly easy skills to gain in your second language. No doubt he picked all this up from hobos, labor activists, and Wobblies, but I also believe his ear for music helped him in this effort.

Hill had some musical training and a passion for music that is obvious in his lyrical approach. You can tell from his lyrics that he paid close attention to the musical hall and Tin Pan Alley writers of the day. Most of them were also immigrants or children of immigrants and were very skilled at slang, lyrical twists and clever use of idioms. Indeed, Hill’s lyrics and choice of tunes have much more in common with music hall composers than the folk or county models that Guthrie and others made use of in the years of the great labor uprising of the 1930s and which became the template for labor songsters thereafter.

Hill and other Wobbly bards and writers should get some credit for their use of sarcasm and irony in the development of American literature. They had sharp wits and tongues that worked deftly and quickly, which only pissed off the lunkhead bosses, the law and the ruling elite even more. The authorities and their lackeys dislike radicals even more when they’re much smarter than they are.

What was the role of music in the creation of the Wobbly movement culture?

Music was a centerpiece of the Wobbly “movement culture.” However, I wouldn’t say this came into existence with the IWW. Earlier, the abolitionists and the Gilded Age labor movement made singing, songwriting, poetry and other forms of writing a key part of their efforts. Coal miners and Jewish textile workers had already developed a strong working-class poetic and musical tradition, as did the Knights of Labor. So Joe Hill and Woody Guthrie were standing on big shoulders.

Having said that, the IWW took the music and poetry to new heights and cleverly used singing and chanting as a way to garner attention from workers, the media, and the authorities. Fifty workers singing makes a lot more noise at a rally or in a jail cell than one speaker on a soapbox or one person ranting in the joint.

What kinds of considerations did you take into account in updating Hills music?

I quickly decided I wanted to record a couple of the sentimental love songs because that part of Hill’s personality had been neglected. They read like old vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley lyrics, so I worked on melodies and chord changes that were common to those types of pieces. I also decided that on songs like “Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay” and “It’s A Long Way Down to the Soupline” that I wanted to use a brass band that had the flavor of the music hall that Hill was leaning on. I hoped to make it a bit like a drunken Salvation Army band in the process, which fit the brass band sound anyway.

I knew he’d been to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands too, so I decided to do a couple songs with the ukulele at the center, which was appropriate given some things I’d read on Hill and the music he heard on that trip (plus the ukulele had become popular at the time).

I wanted to make a record that Hill would like. That was my priority from the beginning. I don’t think he’d like a straight folk revival, strumming acoustic guitar approach, as that has nothing to do with most of his material. He played the piano and the fiddle, after all. The folk revivalists did a great service by keeping Hill’s work in circulation, but trying to keep him in that small musical box is way off the mark. So, I borrowed from vaudeville and the music hall, piano blues and early jazz, alt-country, swing, punk and gospel.

I think Joe would be very happy with this recording—more so than what’s preceded.

What sorts of musical choices did Hill make? What kinds of influences did he draw on?

Hill came from a music-loving family and he also had some musical training as a child before his dad died and the family fell on hard times. He heard a lot of religious music, as his family were strong Lutherans and sometimes attended Salvation Army gatherings. Since hymns were well known, even across sectarian religious (and political) lines, hymn tunes were often used by labor songwriters going back to the mid-19th century. Hill’s use of “In the Sweet By and By” as the tune for “The Preacher and the Slave” was very much in a labor tradition, as was “Nearer My God to Thee” for his “Nearer My Job to Thee.”

Hill also wrote his own music for some of his songs—for his classic “Rebel Girl,” for example. And though he leaned heavily for the music of the “Internationale” for his “Workers of the World Awaken,” he did include clear pieces of his own work in writing that one, too.

But most often he drew on the vaudeville, music hall, early Tin Pan Alley songs that were popular with workers at the time. For “Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay” he took the tune from a music hall hit by the same name. For “Scissor Bill” he took the tune from “Steamboat Bill,” which was a huge hit at the time and a best-selling early recording.

With all his tune choices, he was like other working-class writers and had the same goal—use tunes that workers knew already for labor songs and then they’d be easy for workers to sing.

Can you give the background of some of the other songs?

“Der Chief of Fresno” grew out of the IWW’s free speech campaign. Fresno was a place where the police were notably confrontational. Hill added his voice to the mix with a piece that appears to have been a chant of sorts. That’s why I added the multiple voices on the words “der chief” whenever it comes around. I like the use of the German “Der” in the title, as if the chief might make a good member of the oppressive Prussian army.

“Stung Right” represents the strong anti-military bent of the IWW, even before the outbreak of World War I. Many immigrant workers had already come from regions of the world where they were drafted and made to fight the battles for the ruling class and were determined to stay out of future such wars. What’s more, many working-class groups saw war as a senseless ruling class fight that only pitted workers against each other. Nationalism was seen as suspect.

Little wonder, then, that after the Spanish-American War in 1898, and the needless slaughter it entailed, anti-war and anti-military sentiments found welcome ears. Hill was aware that workers also signed up with the military when their economic situations were difficult. At least they gave you a bit of cash and some food in the army. In this piece, he’s warning workers not to fall for it

“Rebel Girl” is another of his best efforts. Hill wrote it himself for Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Hill followed her career closely and admired her work on behalf of labor. They frequently corresponded while Hill was in prison. He even wrote a cute little song for her son called “Bronco Buster Flynn.” Flynn had visited Hill while he was awaiting execution and sent him a photo of her son Buster.

One song that struck me was “Come Take a Joy Ride in My Aeroplane.” As you say in your liner notes, that seems to represent a “romantic and carefree side” that we don’t typically associate with Hill.

There were three of these romantic, sentimental songs that Hill wrote, all of which were discovered after his arrest and none of which had music or tunes for them. Of course, there may be more, but we haven’t yet found those. They weren’t typical of Hill’s writing, which is generally focused on labor and political issues. But you can find some of this same sentiment in his letters, so it clearly was a key component of who Joe Hill was.

Frankly, I think historians and musicians have missed the boat in not addressing this romantic impulse. I suppose it seems counter to our image of the left-wing radical. But hell—I’d rather hang out with a person with strong romantic tendencies and a left-wing leaning personality, than some dour old sourpuss like Marx or Lenin, wouldn’t you? I also think within the IWW there was a strong sense of romance about the world. This can be found clearly in Wobbly writers like Haywire Mac or Ralph Chaplin. Some of this could be channeled toward a utopian impulse, as in the classic IWW song “Big Rock Candy Mountain.”

Hill just gave it a more personal twist. Why shouldn’t he want to fall in love and be carried away for a while in the reverie of romance? Don’t we all? Here’s a guy who went to work at age nine, contracted tuberculosis, went on the tramp to survive and worked an endless stream of low-paying jobs. Why not dream of taking flight above this dreary earth with your gal and soar above the troubles below? Sounds like fun to me.

What is it about Hill that makes his legacy resonate so widely?

Obviously, the injustice of his arrest, trial, and execution continues to resonate, especially when a day doesn’t pass without some prisoner being released from prison after new evidence or DNA tests exonerated him or her.

Beyond that obvious point, I think there are many people who hear his songs and immediately sense that the issues raised by Hill and other Wobbly bards remain important to our national discussion, including decent wages and working conditions, immigrant rights, discrimination based on race, the oppression of women, the right to form a union and the right to free speech.

I have to admit, however, that I’m often bewildered by conservative labor leaders in the USA who pull out Hill’s legacy when it’s convenient and make positive comments about him. If he were around today, they’d throw him out of their conventions in a minute.

I also think there’s considerable appeal to Hill’s personal demeanor throughout the trial. He died a heroic, noble death—something few people can claim for their lives. He gave his life for the cause, and his trial and execution played out in the international media of the day. He’s a romantic character of the type that is more common in early movies than in reality.

 

 

BELLA CIAO JULIAN BOND

Mr. Bond in 1966, before making a speech in New York. Credit Associated Press

Mr. Bond in 1966, before making a speech in New York. Credit Associated Press

This weekend the world lost one of the greatest heroes of our time, Julian Bond. In an obituary that appeared in the New York Times yesterday it was reported that  ‘Julian Bond’s great-grandmother Jane Bond was the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer.’ Twitter was overloaded  with comments yesterday that he wasn’t a farmer but a slave master, and there is no such thing as a slave mistress.  Being a mistress is voluntary, she was a raped slave.  Interesting that a writer at the Times didn’t use language properly, and great that so many people spotted it. Also interesting that there was no correction for this at the Times.

The following short video will introduce you to the man himself …. with what you should know about his legacy …

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Here he interviews a fellow activist, Angela Davis …

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He will be sorely missed by all who struggle for true Justice throughout the world.

Bella Ciao dear Julian

 

THE SERIOUS SIDE OF CHARLIE CHAPLIN

fam-p2-Charlie

When we think of Charlie Chaplin we remember a little mustached clown with a cane and bowler hat who made us laugh, probably more than any other clown in history.

Today, April 16th, would be his 126th birthday. I always remembered that date as it is also the birthday of my father.

In honour of his special day I want to share a clip from his movie The Great Dictator which illustrates the serious side of this wonderful man …

If only there were world leaders today that share these sentiments

Sentiments arguably as true today as they were in 1940.
“In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way”

REMEMBERING MALCOLM X, OUR BROTHER AND TEACHER

If you aren't careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. Remembered by Carlos Latuff

If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
Remembered by Carlos Latuff

Malcolm X was assassinated 50 years ago this month (February 21st 1965). He would have been almost 90 years old. But he left us when his time was due. A fearless, courageous and sincere man who will never be forgotten by those who stand with the oppressed.

We will remember him today as we did yesterday as our beloved brother.

We remember him and appreciate the sacrifices he made not only for the African Americans but all people across the world. May God grant him mercy and the highest station in paradise. Amen.

Eulogized by Ossie Davis

Remembered by his friends and comrades…

Contents
Assassination of Malcolm X
Harlem resident
Sonia Sanchez
James Henrik Clarke
Ella Collins
Prince Faisal (not to be confused with THE King Faisal)
Ossie Davis
Amiri Baraka
Yvonne Little
Alex Haley
Sharon 10X
Maya Angelou
Denzel Washington
Nelson Mandela
Tariq Ramadan
Robert Haggins
Earl Grant
Yuri Kochiyama
Shirley Joshi
Malcolm X in Smethwick, Birmingham, UK (12/02/1965)
Ossie Davis
Malcolm X in Oxford Union (04/12/1964)
Malcolm X resting

Click HERE to read related report

Malcolm X remembered as civil rights leaders grapple with new protest movement

LIFE BEFORE DEATH IN THE OCCUPIED WEST BANK

Don't just remember .... Help stop the madness!

Don’t just remember …. Help stop the madness!

“Here lies my brother”: Short video recalls life of murdered Palestinian teen

The night before he died, Muhammad and his father went up on the roof of their house. The teen pointed toward nearby Birzeit University and told his father that he wanted to study journalism there.

“Through media and journalism,” his father recalls Muhammad saying, “I can send a message to the world that there’s a people here that is carrying out legitimate resistance to the occupation and I can ask the world to help us end the occupation.”

Click HERE to see what you can do to stop the murders

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Click HERE to read Ali Abunimah’s full report on the situation

REMEMBERING CHE AND VITTORIO, MARTYRS EXTRAORDINAIRE

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Forty seven years ago this month Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was murdered by the CIA in Bolivia. 

Below is a heartbreaking letter from the mother of Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian in Gaza murdered by similar forces of hatred just over three years ago. Imagine the letter having been penned by the mother of Che …

Both live on in the hearts of all who work for Social Justice throughout the world …

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“Don’t cry for me if I die, do what I was doing and I will live on in you.” —
Che Guevara
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A letter from Vittorio’s mother

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One has to die to become a hero, to hit the headlines and to have TV crews around the house, but does one have to die to stay human? I recall Vittorio in the Christmas of 2005, detained and incarcerated in the Ben Gurion Airport, the scars left by the handcuffs that cut his wrists, the denial of any contact with the consulate, the farcical process. And I recall Easter that same year, when just across the Allenby Bridge at the Jordanian border the Israeli police blocked his entrance in the country, put him on a bus and, seven against one (one of the seven was a policewoman), they beat him up “with skill”, without leaving any external marks, like the real professionals they are, then hurling him to the ground and throwing at his face, as a last scar to add to the others, the hair they had ripped off him with their machines.

Vittorio was unwanted in Israel. Too subversive, for having joined his friend Gabriele one year earlier and demonstrated along with the women and men of the village of Budrus against the Wall of Shame, teaching them the lyrics and singing together our most beautiful partisan song ‘O bella ciao, ciao…’. (see below)

Back then no TV crew came by, not even when in the Fall of 2008 a commando attacked in Palestinian waters off Rafah the fishing boat he had boarded. Vittorio was incarcerated in Ramle and soon after sent back home with nothing but the clothes on his body. Nevertheless, I cannot but be thankful to the press and television that have approached us with composure, that have ‘besieged’ our home with restraint, without excesses and that have given me the chance to talk about Vittorio and about his ideals and the choices he made.

This lost child of mine is more alive than ever before, like the grain that has fallen to the ground and died to bring forth a plentiful harvest. I see it and hear it already in the words of his friends, above all the younger among them, some closer, some from afar. Through Vittorio, they have known and understood, and now even more, how one can give ‘Utopia’ a meaning, like the thirst for justice and peace, how fraternity and solidarity still stand and how, as Vittorio used to say, ‘Palestine can also be found at your doorsteps’. We were a long way from Vittorio, but now we are closer than ever, with his living presence magnified at every passing hour, like a wind from Gaza, from his beloved Mediterranean, blowing fierily to deliver the message of his hope and of his love for those without a voice, for the weak and the oppressed, passing the baton.

Stay human. – Restiamo umani.

The above is a translation of the letter written by egidia beretta arrigoni, mother of vittorio arrigoni, translated by Sebastiao Nascimento

Bella Ciao Vitto
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Scenes in Gaza after Vittorio’s murder…..
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Honoured by Carlos Latuff

Honoured by Carlos Latuff

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As was Che on the 40th Anniversary of his martyrdom

As was Che on the 40th Anniversary of his martyrdom

THE BABY THAT COULD SAVE THE WORLD

witchbaby3

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In 2011, former President Clinton told reporters in Davos, Switzerland: “I would like to have a happy wife, and she won’t be unless she’s a grandmother … It’s something she wants more than she wanted to be president.”

Let’s hope to God he was right!

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Chelsea Clinton Has Baby Girl Named Charlotte

First Grandchild for Hillary and Bill Clinton

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GETTY IMAGES
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By Reuters

Chelsea Clinton has given birth to a girl, she said in a statement on social media, giving former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton their first grandchild.

“Marc and I are full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky,” Clinton said in the post on her Twitter and Facebook profiles, referring to her investment banker husband Marc Mezvinsky.

The messages came out after midnight on the U.S. East Coast. Details on the baby’s height and weight have not been released.

Later on Saturday, Charlotte’s new grandparents shared their excitement about the birth in a joint statement.

“We are thrilled to be with our daughter and her husband as they welcome their daughter into the world,” the senior Clintons said.

“Chelsea is well and glowing. Marc is bursting with pride. Charlotte’s life is off to a good start,” they said.

Chelsea Clinton announced her pregnancy in April while sitting side-by-side with her mother in armchairs on a stage at a New York City event on empowering women.

It remains unclear how the birth of the first Clinton grandchild will affect the political ambitions of Hillary Clinton, who is considering a run for the White House in 2016.

In 2011, former President Clinton told reporters in Davos, Switzerland: “I would like to have a happy wife, and she won’t be unless she’s a grandmother … It’s something she wants more than she wanted to be president.”

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