Family and Friends,
Many longtime friends have released books and other creative works since my previous “Books by Friends” message last March. And because I’ve made many new friends in the last six months at my own book events and the fantastic “Madison in the 1960s” reunion, this installment’s list includes their stimulating works as well.
It’s a great list, top to bottom:
Bob Wing’s first book, Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction, is a collection of essays and analyses written over the last two decades. Angela Davis writes that “This collection… allows us to trace recent challenges of left movements, both inside and beyond electoral politics, and to reflect on how we defeat Trump and the ultra right he has emboldened in the years to come.”
Put together by Melanie Bush and four co-editors, Rose Brewer, Bob Newby, Daniel Douglas and Loretta Chin; featuring a foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley and including contributions from over 20 other activists and scholars, Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice will roll off the press in November. An eloquent, more than deserved tribute to a freedom fighter who is much-missed.
The tumultuous 1960s and the movements arising out of them are getting a lot of attention again amid all the “50th anniversary of” commemorations this year. Several friends of mine have added their voices to the discussion. Check out:
Cuban Revolution in America: Havana and the Making of a United States Left, 1968-1992, by Teishan Latner. (Watch for my review of this excellent book in an upcoming issue of The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture.)
Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties, by Tom Grace, one of the students wounded by National Guard gunfire at Kent State on May 4, 1970.
Moving Against the System: The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness, edited by David Austin.
Fortunate Son: Redemption of a ’70s Radical, by Billy Drew. I flagged this moving memoir when it first was completed, before my old comrade Billy finally lost his long battle with cancer; I’m inspired to mention it again for all those who missed his son Bill Drew reading a chapter from it at the opening “book night” of the Radical Teach-in and Intergenerational Dialogue during the Madison Reunion.
Friends have also produced numerous works dealing with post-1960s issues and struggles, including those on the front burner today:
Summary Execution: The Seattle Assassinations of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, by Mike Withey. This is the story of the campaign for justice following the murder of two Union of Democratic Filipino (KDP) activists June 1, 1981. The book takes us from the canneries in Alaska to the Philippines after dictator Ferdinand Marcos was thrown out of office, uncovers the secret files of U.S. intelligence agencies, and eventually to a federal courtroom in Seattle where Marcos was put on trial. For more about the KDP’s work in this campaign and in numerous other struggles of the 1970s and ’80s, I again heartily recommend A Time to Rise: Collective Memoirs of the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP), edited by Bruce Occeña, Rene Ciria-Cruz and Cindy Domingo,
Hog Wild: The Battle for Workers’ Rights at the World’s Largest Slaughterhouse, by Lynn Waltz, tells the story of the successful campaign to organize Smithfield, with plenty of quotes by lead organizer Gene Bruskin.
Rethinking the American Prison Movement, by Dan Berger and Touissaint Losier
Teaching for Black Lives, a new book from Rethinking Schools, edited by Jesse Hagopian, Dyan Watson and Wayne Au, with contributions by Bob Peterson, Bill Fletcher, Jr. and many other activists,teachers and scholars.
Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran, by Medea Benjamin.
Mapping the Resistance: Insurgence and Polarization between 2016 and 2020, a free pamphlet from the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung-New York Office, by Ethan Young.
Contextualizing and Organizing Contingent Faculty: Reclaiming Academic Labor in Universities, includes contributions by Joe Berry and Helena Worthen.
Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics, by Lester Spence.
Bill Robinson has written the introduction to Giants: The Global Power Elite, by Peter Phillips.
The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés: Decolonialism, Class, Gender, Race, by Daphne V. Taylor-Garcia, is part of the series Global Critical Caribbean Thought.
If you want to grapple with one of today’s most challenging struggles via fiction, check out the second novel in Kate Raphael’s Palestine Mystery Series, Murder Under the Fig Tree. Also on the crime fiction front, look for Bill Fletcher, Jr.’s forthcoming The Man Who Fell from the Sky: “Set within a Cape Verdean American community undergoing a transformation of its own consciousness, Fletcher’s crime novel dives deep into two timely questions: Is revenge ever a moral form of justice, and when does silence become complicity as criminal acts are committed before your own eyes?”
Three friends have weighed in on urgent fight against climate change and related issues:
Victor Wallis has just released Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism. And you can find more of Victor’s writings on the environment, socialism and other topics here.
Aimee Suzara is both news anchor and writer in The WATER/WALLS, a spoken word/music video project addressing storms and climate change, the concept of walls and borders. It’s one of the best six minutes on youtube you’ll spend this year.
Moses Seenarine’s latest book is Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming. More information and analysis from Dr. Seenarine can be found at Climate Change 911.
You may also want to check out two projects I’m directly involved in:
Organizing Upgrade recently hosted a discussion among veterans of the 1980s Rainbow Coalition to revisit the history of this dynamic left political experiment and elaborate the strategic questions posed by their experiences for today’s left organizers. The series of videos and articles resulting from that discussion can be found on the Rainbow Debates page.
And the Center for Political Education has a new redesigned website. Mark your calendars for the People Get Ready 2 Conference this coming November 17 to take stock of the post-mid-term landscape and strategize for radical activism going forward from there.
For those of you in or visiting the Bay Area, here are two exhibitions more than worth a visit:
Only the Oaks Remain: tells the true stories of those targeted as dangerous enemy aliens and imprisoned in the Tuna Canyon Detention Station by the U.S. Department of Justice during World War II. The exhibition at the Presidio in San Francisco runs through January 31, 2019; tireless efforts to expose this too-often-ignored injustice are ongoing by Grace Shimizu.
Cartoons from The Forbidden Book: The Philippine-American War in Political Cartoons by Abe Ignacio, Enrique De La Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel and the late and much-missed Helen Toribio are on display at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center through September 30. (My review of The Forbidden Book when it first appeared can be found here.)
And to wrap up this excellent list:
America’s Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945, by Colleen Lye.
McCarthyism in the Suburbs: Quakers, Communists and the Children’s Librarian, by Allison Helper, tells the story of Mary Knowles, mother of my longtime friend Jon Knowles. The volume is “full of important lessons on how fear and bravery operate local communities against the backdrop of (and involvement with) national events.”
The Indispensable Zinn: Essential Writings of the “People’s Historian,” edited by Timothy Patrick McCarthy.
David Garrow’s latest, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.
Finally, because children and youth are our future, this list closes with: Key Words: Reclaiming Children’s Precious Vocabulary, by Cory Gann. This book “is about early and emergent literacy – it promotes the concept that each child possesses a key vocabulary of words that are special and magical.”