The other day, I was talking with a woman who had worked with Lee Weiner.
One of my heroes…a member of the Chicago Seven. Do you know them? Abbie Hofman. Jerry Rubin. David Dellinger. Tom Hayden. Rennie Davis. John Roines. And Lee Weiner.
Another star story of USA history: The Chicago Seven were charged by the federal government with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and a whole bunch of bullshit because of their stance against the Vietnam War. Bobby Seale was one of the original…Chicago Eight. But then his trial was separated from the others – so there were only the Chicago Seven.
Later, Bobby and Huey Newton co-founded the Black Panther Party. Have you read the Ten Point platform for the Black Panther Party? Anything you’re curious about? Anything you disagree with? Why?
- We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine The Destiny Of Our Black Community.
- We Want Full Employment For Our People.
- We Want An End To The Robbery By The Capitalists Of Our Black Community.
- We Want Decent Housing Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings.
- We Want Education For Our People That Exposes The True Nature Of This Decadent American Society. We Want Education That Teaches Us Our True History And Our Role In The Present-Day Society.
- We Want All Black Men To Be Exempt From Military Service.
- We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.
- We Want Freedom For All Black Men Held In Federal, State, County And City Prisons And Jails.
- We Want All Black People When Brought To Trial To Be Tried In Court By A Jury Of Their Peer Group Or People From Their Black Communities, As Defined By The Constitution Of The United States.
- We Want Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice And Peace.
But back to the Chicago Seven.… Do you know about the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago? The protest activity then? Rallies. Demonstrations. Marches. Attempted marches. Anti-war groups petitioned the city of Chicago for permits to march … but the city mostly said “no.” And yes… tear gas and verbal and physical confrontation and those police batons beating people and protesters retaliating and and and…
My French cousin Fabienne watched it all on TV at our home in East Lansing, Michigan. I was in summer school at MSU ... taking classes and working. My French dad kept asking “Why do you Americans think you can win in Vietnam? The French were there for 20 years and we never won.” (That’s French Indochina if you haven’t heard of that precursor to the USofA’s Vietnam war.)
In the summer of 1970, I married Bill, who’d just returned from Nam. Ah yes, my war. I’ve written about this. Bill and I lived in Junction City, Kansas, home of the Big Red One, huge military base. Bill wasn’t out of the military yet.
With my teaching degree, I could substitute teach. That’s all I every wanted to be, you know. Teach French and English in middle school and high school. Even with my masters’ degree in 20th century French and American comparative literature…. I still just wanted to teach in middle/high school. (But how my life changed after my divorce and no teaching jobs and meeting up with the nonprofit/philanthropic sector.)
So I substitute taught a little bit in Junction City, Kansas. But only once in the military post school. Because I raised the issue of the Chicago Seven in the high school class. And said that we should always question war. And that maybe Nam hadn’t been such a good idea.
Yes, I realized the risk I was taking. But FUCK ALL AND EVERYONE! I’ll question and speak out and and and…
Thank you Chicago Seven and Eight. Thank you for questioning that war. Thank you all. I’m proud that the military post school didn’t want me there because I was questioning.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I ended this story now? Ending with the Chicago Seven/Eight and protesting the war in Vietnam.
But that wasn’t the end of the USofA Nam story. Nor was that the end of demonstrations and the killing of demonstrators.
So here goes…More and more… Seemingly forever…
Where were you on May 4, 1970? The Kent State shootings….the May 4 massacre….the Kent State massacre.
T’was a Peace Rally on the Kent State University Green.
I very strongly urge you to read Jill Lepore’s article in The New Yorker magazine, May 4, 2020…the 50th anniverary of that shooting: “Blood on the Green. Kent State and the war that never ended.”
Read this article as you read all the articles about George Floyd and racism and… and…. and… Right now, I’m ordering Derf Backderf’s graphic nonfiction novel, Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio.
Does anything sound familiar to you? Shooting demonstrators…Police beating and killing protestors… (However, do let’s always remember that all the police and all the National Guard don’t indiscriminately kill.) But something sure as hell is hugely fucked up in this country. And sure, perhaps other countries, too. But this one is kinda my country. So that’s what I’m writing about. My shame and sorrow and anger and on and on and on…Seemginly endless.
And how can we the USofA forget the school shootings? Doesn’t happen in other countries because there’s gun control. Honestly…WTF and don’t you dare say anything about the right to bear arms. That’s just crap. Check out this list of school shootings. Maybe this country’s goal is to partner Black Lives Matter and School Shootings. Quite a pairing, eh?
On and of course…the rights of women are basic human rights…And the USofA ranks #51 (down from #45 a couple years ago) – with the rights of women. And how about gender identity and trans and and and and ….
I give up right now. I have to stop now. My anger and sadness. My apology to all people of color. My wish for justice and speaking out.