May 2011, Week 4


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Thu, 26 May 2011 23:49:59 -0400
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Al Fishman Presente! - Long-time Peace Activist and

Memorial service will be held May 27, 2011 at 12:00 noon at
Central United Methodist Church, Woodward at Adams in

	"the Detroit City Council mourns and honors Al
	Fishman, one of our City's finest Peace, Civil and
	Human Rights, and Labor activists, advocates and
	champions, one of our true Citizens of the World."

Remembrances from:
* Detroit City Council Memorial Resolution for Mr. Al 
  Fishman, Peace and Human Rights Activist
* Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action
* Pat Fry, National Co-Chair, Committees of Correspondence
  for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)
* Michigan Peace Action Network
* Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio (91.7 FM - Ann
  Arbor/Detroit; 91.1 FM - Flint; 104.1 FM West Michigan)


Detroit City Council Memorial Resolution for Mr. Al Fishman,
Peace and Human Rights Activist

[Adopted unanimously May 24, to be read at May 27 memorial

WHEREAS, Al Fishman was a leading peace and justice activist
since being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1947 after
which he organized countless picket lines, marches, rallies,
teach-ins, and forums; and

WHEREAS, Al Fishman was involved in opposition to the Korean
War, including the defense of Lt Gilbert, an African
American officer who was court-martialed for refusing to
order his men into a "suicide mission". He also served as
the Michigan coordinator of the Vietnam Moratorium; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Fishman, as a supporter of human rights,
participated in protests against the racist murder of Emmett
Till; the racist frame-ups of Willie McGee, The Trenton Six
and the Martinville Seven; the political frame-up of Julius
and Ethel Rosenberg. He was a member of the National Negro
Labor Council and it's campaigns for jobs and helped force
Black representation in trade union leadership. He was a
member of the Michigan Congress Against Repression,
participating in its activities against police brutality,
and in the National Alliance Against Racist and Political
Repression , and the campaigns to free Angela Davis and Rev.
Benjamin Chavis; and

WHEREAS, Al Fishman, notwithstanding, the corrupt and
undemocratic aspects of our electoral system - about which
he spoke frequently - was a dedicated participant in the
process of advancing peace and social economic justice
through electoral politics. He was proud of the fact that he
participated in breaking racist barriers in landmark
campaigns to advance the political representation of African
Americans, including the campaigns of Charles Diggs, William
T. Patrick, John Conyers, Richard Austin, Erma Henderson ,
and Coleman A. Young. He was organizer and State Co-Chair of
the New Democratic Coalition, which served as a unifying
force for progressives in the Democratic Party.  He was an
active supporter of George McGovern for President; and

WHEREAS, Al Fishman was part of the campaign, led by the
Honorable Erma Henderson, to eliminate redlining. He helped
to organize the Michigan Coalition on Utilities and Energy,
which opposed unwarranted utility rate increases; and

WHEREAS, In the spirit of the Ghandi-Martin Luther King
teachings about non-violent resistance, he risked arrest in
a number of peace and justice actions. He was arrested
protesting apartheid at the South African Embassy in
Washington, D.C., for protesting the Indonesian massacre in
Dili, East Timor, for protesting the continuing development
of nuclear weapons at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in
Nevada, in support of the striking Detroit newspaper
workers, and against the then imminent US invasion of Iraq;

WHEREAS,  Detroit's Al Fishman co-chaired a coalition
opposed to the first Persian Gulf War. After the attack on
the World Trade Center, he co-convened the twenty
organizations of the Detroit Area Peace With Justice
Network, which was part of dozens of protests against the
war on Iraq; he led annual  events to commemorate the
horrors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki;

WHEREAS, Since the early 1980's, he was a member of Peace
Action - at that time called the Nuclear Freeze Campaign. He
served Peace Action of Michigan for many years as a Co-Chair
and as its representative on the National Board of
Directors. He served as a member of the local Board of
Directors, writing frequent articles for its quarterly
newsletter; and

WHEREAS,  Al was a member of the New Jewish Agenda, the
first, and for some time the only, Jewish American
organization that supported Palestinian statehood. He was a
member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Coalition
for Human Rights; 

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the Detroit City Council
mourns and honors Al Fishman, one of our City's finest
Peace, Civil and Human Rights, and Labor activists,
advocates and champions, one of our true Citizens of the


Al Fishman, Presente!

by Kevin Martin, 
Executive Director, Peace Action

Peace Action Peace Blog
MAy 20, 2011


I just got word Al Fishman, former national Peace Action
board member and longtime leader in Peace Action of Michigan
and the Detroit peace and justice community, passed away. I
don't know any details yet, just that he went to the
hospital yesterday for a knee problem and had a massive
heart attack.

I love Al. I've known him for close to twenty years, and in
all that time he was one of the most indefatigable,
consistent voices of conscience for peace, social and
economic justice, and solidarity with peoples' struggles I
have ever known. (A colleague reminded me Al's first arrest
was for petitioning for nuclear disarmament in Stockholm, in

He had a particularly keen understanding that the peace
movement needed to work with and be in solidarity with
people of color organizations and labor unions, as our
struggles are inextricably linked. I disagreed with Al on
politics once in awhile (Al, wherever you are, we can still
argue next year about whether Peace Action should endorse
Obama, in fact I'm counting on it!), but I never lost
respect or affection for him personally, and never for a
second doubted his opinions came from a place of integrity,
sincerity, commitment and love.

My only regret is I didn't get to say goodbye to this
wonderful man. I'm sure our national board co-chair, Helen
Weber, and other Peace Action of Michigan folks will let us
know how we can properly honor and celebrate Al's life.

Rest in peace my brother, you've certainly earned it.

Alvin Fishman, Presente!



Remembering Al Fishman

by Pat Fry, National Co-Chair, CCDS

May 23, 2011

Submitted to Portside by the author

The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
(CCDS) is greatly saddened by the news that Al Fishman of
Detroit, Michigan, a life-long stalwart for peace and
justice, died suddenly last week. Al served in many roles
over decades of struggle. Among them, Al was state chair of
the New Democratic  Coalition of Michigan that supported the
anti-war candidacy of Eugene McCarthy and opposed the U.S.
war on Vietnam from 1966-71. He was a member of the National
Board of Peace Action, a leader of Michigan Peace Action and
a member of CCDS' Peace and Solidarity Committee.

Al was a member of the Communist Party until he and hundreds
of others left and formed the Committees of Correspondence
in 1992. He was also a member of the Democratic Socialists
of America.

Al was also my co-worker at Wayne County Community College
in Detroit in the early 1970s and a friend of nearly 40
years. He was also my dear comrade and mentor. It is fitting
that he had a meeting arranged with Sen. Carl Levin's office
this week. He often arranged group meetings with elected
officials pressing for nuclear disarmament, an end to U.S.
wars of aggression and was relied upon in matters of the
peace movement by a number of elected officials. Al and his
wife of 60 years who survives him, Marge Fishman, were
instrumental in the campaign to elect Detroit's first
African American Mayor, Coleman Young, in 1974.

Al will always be remembered for his clarity on two
important issues of strategy for democratic advance: in
order to make any significant progress for peace and
justice, the two most important forces for change must be
joined in the struggle - labor and the African American
people's movement for equality. And secondly, the widest
possible front must be formed targeting the far right-wing,
particularly in the electoral arena.

Al lived his life until his very last days with this mission
at the fore. He had been at a Peace Action meeting the day
before he suffered a massive heart attack, complaining about
a pain in his knee. His fellow Peace Action members urged
him to go to the doctor the next day, where he died.

It is hard for me to believe that Al is not with us anymore.
I so treasured my visits back home in Detroit to spend the
afternoon with he and Margaret around the kitchen table,
going through a couple pots of coffee, discussing the
movement in Detroit and the world - always with optimism and
resolve. I will miss him so.

There will be a memorial for Al at the church renowned for
its place in the peace and justice movement - Central
Methodist Church in downtown Detroit, Friday, May 25th at
12:00 noon.

Al Fishman, Presente!


In Memoriam--Al Fishman, Long-time Peace Activist

Michigan Peace Network
posted May 23, 2011


For years, Al was a faithful and effective activist for
civil rights, world peace, and justice for all. His sudden
death last week shocked many across the state. A memorial
service will be held May 27, 2011 at 12:00 noon at Central
United Methodist Church, Woodward at Adams in Detroit.

Al's death is mourned by all, especially Margaret, his wife
of 60 years and all those who worked with him on MPN, DAPHN,
UFPJ, and Peace Action. To the end, Al saw the connections
between our current state budgetary woes and the big picture
of war and peace, a connection many in MPN are making
through Moveable Peace 2011. We can give no better tribute
to him than by continuing his work. Below is a transcript of
a radio tribute by Jack Lessenberry.


A Life Remembered - Al Fishman of Peace Action Detroit

by Jack Lessenberry

From 97.7 Michigan Radio, 
May 20., 2011


Al Fishman called me last week, full of energy as ever,
wanting some advice. He wanted to put together a big debate
over the national budget in Michigan. Wanted to show people
things could be more fair. I told him I thought people here
were more concerned with the state budget crisis right now.
"I know that," he said.

"But state and local budgets also reflect the spending
priorities of the federal government," he explained. What he
wanted me to do was to suggest a television personality who
could moderate the forum, someone who might help boost
attendance. I suggested a few names. Yesterday morning, Al,
who was eighty-two and big on physical fitness, went to the
doctor to have a tricky knee looked at. He was in the
waiting room when the heart attack came. He may never have
known what hit him.

Fishman wasn't a big name, outside of what his opponents
would have called the "left-wing labor community." There, he
was revered, though he didn't seem to know that. He acted
like just another guy who had just discovered something was
wrong in society, and had decided to try to fix it. What was
most unusual about him was his energy level and his

No matter how many times the system disappointed him, no
matter how many new wars or atrocities or unfairnesses he
lived through, Al never stopped fighting. There was
injustice in the world, and he thought it was up to all of
us to do something about it. What he wanted most of all was
to abolish war, the nuclear threat, and any kind of
discrimination. He grew up in New York City and saw all
those things in the army right after World War II.

He came to these parts to attend the University of Michigan,
but got involved in politics, and never finished. Perhaps
his biggest success came by accident. He married a Serbian-
American girl from Detroit, and their political activity
caused the Air Force, back in the Red Scare days, to try to
kick out her brother, who wasn't political at all. Edward R.
Murrow took up his cause and did one of the most famous
programs in television history about it: The Case of
Lieutenant Milo Radulovich. That show enabled Murrow to go
on to help destroy the demagogue Joe McCarthy.

Al Fishman and his wife Margaret went on with their lives,
raising three kids and occasionally getting arrested. He
spent the Fourth of July, 1950 in jail for trying to get
people to sign ban-the-bomb petitions. "Fifty-nine-years
later, and I'm still working for nuclear abolition," he told
me two years ago.

Back in the 1970s, his computer expertise caused a Detroit
mayor to appoint him to a high-ranking position with the
police department. They promptly gave him a tour of the
jail. "Looks a little familiar," he muttered, when they
passed one cell block.

Ironically, the day he died, Peace Action of Michigan's
latest newsletter came with Al's final article. It said our
top priority needed to be "putting people to work, repairing
our country and restoring dignity to workers and their
families," by whatever means necessary. That's what Al
Fishman was always all about.

It's hard to imagine a better epitaph.


[Jack Lessenberry is a professor of journalism at Wayne
State University and a contributing editor and columnist for
The Metro Times, The Traverse-City Record Eagle, and The
Toledo Blade...in addition to his work at Michigan Radio. He
has worked as a foreign correspondent and executive national
editor of The Detroit News, and he has written for many
national and regional publications, including Vanity Fair,
Esquire, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston
Globe, and The Oakland Press.]



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