Re: [sixties-l] How 60s People Stay Relevant

From: Ted Morgan (
Date: Tue Jul 25 2000 - 16:13:52 CUT

  • Next message: Jeffrey Blankfort: "[sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-Olympic History"

    Thanks for that post about Joe Blum, Bill. I think it would be good to
    collect stories like these about 60s activists staying relevant and
    active in a variety of ways --a good source of documentation against the
    typical media-hyped bullshit about 'sellouts.' Other good sources on
    this are Doug McAdam's Freedom Summer and Jack Whalen & Dick Flack's
    Beyond the Barricades.

    Ted Morgan

    William Mandel wrote:
    > Joe Blum is the subject of a huge article (3/4 page) in, of
    > all places, the Business section of yesterday's San Fran Examiner
    > & Chronicle. Accompanied by three photos, it describes his
    > current reincarnation as photographer of industrial work in
    > present-day San Francisco and his exhibit (this is its last week)
    > at the somARTS Cultural Center there. It reports that he has just
    > retired from 25 years in metal shops and shipyards, that he is
    > completing his work for a doctorate in sociology at UC Berkeley,
    > and that an award-winning essay of his on his shipyard
    > experiences will be published in Global Ethnography, to be
    > brought out by the University of California Press.
    > The article is open-mouthed at the idea of an industrial
    > worker becoming a scholar, although the reporter in her research
    > discovered two earlier local cases.
    > There's a bigger story behind that, and some professor on this
    > list ought to work on that or interest a grad student in making a
    > Ph.D. of it.
    > The story is that of how 60s activists have found ways to stay
    > relevant after the r-revolution faded out and the world changed
    > in unpredicted ways. I was first struck by that a few months ago
    > at the 40th anniversary get-together of veterans of the UCB
    > student party, SLATE.
    > Joe Blum's case is that of a subset of 60s veterans. In the
    > mid-60s, he and I were members of the editorial board of THE
    > MOVEMENT, SNCC monthly. I remember him scaring the crap out of me
    > by taking an impressive-looking revolver out and laying it on the
    > table at a board meeting, most definitely not against anyone
    > there but in case we were raided. He also helped fund us by
    > winning at cards at Lake Tahoe because of his ability to remember
    > every card played, to the point at which the casinos finally
    > barred him.
    > As the 60s wound down, the question arose as to what to do to
    > further the struggle. A number of the people I knew had become
    > Marxists. I argued that the place for them to go was the working
    > class, since Marxism views it as the group that will overthrow
    > capitalism. Several did make that choice. Whether or not Joe did
    > so because of my advice I don't know, but he went into the
    > classical proletariat of heavy industry.
    > That proletariat has declined sharply in numbers, particularly
    > in the Bay Area. Joe reached retirement age. What to do now?
    > Loyal both to his ideals and the people he became part of, he
    > decided to perpetuate their work for history, inter alia via
    > photography. He told the reporter: "I never thought I had a
    > creative bone in my body. I'm glad they're quality photographs,
    > but...I would like people to have an appreciation of...what it
    > takes to do this kind of work. People take it for granted."
    > And, having come out of the student movement, it was natural
    > for him to go back for his doctorate, which will open new doors.
    > Each of us is required, if we want to stay more than just
    > physically alive, to find new outlets as we reach major turning
    > points of age. The fact is that is precisely what happened with
    > me. It was members of that SNCC editorial board who first
    > suggested to me, thirty years ago, that I write an autobiography,
    > because of experiences from the 30s through the 50s that I would
    > use to reinforce suggestions or arguments at our meetings. I
    > postponed even an attempt at that for fifteen years. But when it
    > was clear that the American people would re-elect Ronald Reagan,
    > I became desperate at what was clearly a sea-change to the Right,
    > thought my life had been wasted, and wondered what I could do
    > that would be of use. That led me to the conclusion that putting
    > those experiences, and the thinking they prompted, down on paper,
    > would be the best service I could perform for a new militant
    > generation whenever it would come. Ultimately, Saying No To Power
    > was the result.
    > William Mandel
    > --
    > To be removed from list, e-mail "Opt Out."
    > You may find of interest website

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Jul 25 2000 - 19:03:54 CUT