1 RE: Tidbits for September 12, 2011 - Jack Zylman
2 The September 10th New York City Labor Day Parade - Mark
3 Exhibit: The Struggle for Free Speech at CCNY, 1931-42,
New York City
4 March and Rally in New Orleans October 1 to Save
RE: Tidbits for September 12, 2011
Regarding 4. Friday night videos -- I didn't see the
original statement, but this Mr. Scruggs got it wrong.
Gospel was born when the freed slaves leaving the
plantations got to Jefferson County, AL, and found the men
building the railroads and digging the mines in what would
soon become Birmingham. Segregation had not been
established yet, and they went to the same churches as the
white workers and lived among them. In that meeting of
slave songs and mostly Appalachian work songs and hymns,
gospel was born. When people were forced apart by
segregation, it developed into both black and white
A secular form of gospel was born, mostly in Mississippi,
which became the blues.
Like jazz, it went north, and the two met in Detroit, when
bluesman Thomas Andrew Dorsey moved over into gospel and
brought with him his blues sound. Before long he met
Mahalia Jackson, who toured with him and became the great
popularize of the form. The sound of gospel changed, but
it was still gospel.
I have had the privilege of knowing and hearing some of
the greats of this broad form of music. I was in the
small group who found Mississippi John Hurt sitting on his
front porch in rural Mississippi, strumming and singing.
He had been among the first blues men ever to record, had
been robbed by the industry and quit and had been quit for
many years. We got him back to his music and he toured
I got to know many of the R&B singers in Memphis in the
'50s and we talked about the origins and evolution of
I even had he good fortune of attending New Bethel Baptist
Church in Detroit and hearing Rev. C.L. Franklin preach,
considered the greatest of the whoopers, and herd his
daughter, Aretha, sing. She was in the choir that day!
In the Southern Folk Festival, of which I was a part, we
discovered a number of the old singers and musicians, both
black and white. Many went back to the 19th century and
remembered and sang the old music. And we had a chance to
talk with them.
Those were great days!
Rev. Jack Zylman
The September 10th New York City Labor Day Parade
Standing across the street from the official reviewing
stand at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue I observed the
nearly four-hour parade. Most of the contingents
displayed their union's banners, had themed floats, and
wore union shirts and hats. But a significant few had
political messages on signs and banners or in chants and
By far, the largest contingent was the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). I estimated the
IBEW contingent at about 2000. Most of the IBEW marchers
carried printed signs with the following messages: We
Will Not Be Silent, Something Has Gone Awry With America,
The Corporate Agenda - Elimination of Collective
Bargaining, and Good Jobs for Americans Now!
SEIU 1199 had a spirited and vocal contingent. Some of
their signs read Standing Up for Jobs and The Rich Must
Pay Their Fair Share.
There was a sizeable contingent from the Asian
Pacific-American Labor Alliance. They were chanting "The
people united will never be defeated" as they passed the
The Transport Workers Union (TWU), representing New York
City's subway and bus workers, carried signs reading
Workers Rights Are Human Rights, Hey Bankers: You Broke
It, You Pay for It, and Not in Wisconsin, Not in New York.
The Professional Staff Congress (PSC/AFT representing City
University of New York professors and other professionals)
also had a spirited contingent, the marchers chanting
anti-corporate slogans as they passed the reviewing
stands. Their signs urged continued financial support for
New York City's public university system.
The UAW had a small contingent with a few of the marchers
carrying US Labor Against the War signs. There were also
a few of the same signs carried by marchers in the larger
contingent of the United University Professions, Downstate
(NY) Medical Center.
Living Wage NYC had a lively contingent with a banner that
read "Living Wages Now!"
Many locals of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
(IBT) were in the march. Hundreds of Teamsters and a few
trucks carried printed signs that read: Jimmy Hoffa Was
Right! I asked three separate marchers "What was he right
about?" One answered "everything," one shrugged her
shoulders, and the other gave me a non-verbal "who knows?"
You are invited to the Opening Reception
Center for Worker Education at 25 Broadway, 7th Floor
on Thursday, Sept. 15, 6pm-8pm
EXHIBIT: THE STRUGGLE FOR FREE SPEECH AT CCNY, 1931-42
This exhibit of photographs, cartoons, and graphics
documents the rising tide of student and faculty activism
during the Great Depression, and the ensuing repression.
The Exhibit is on display from Sept.6 to October 28, noon
to 8pm Monday-Friday
For travel information: phone Center for Worker Education:
Carol Smith, retired CCNY faculty, will give a
"The Struggle for Free Speech at CCNY, 1931-42," with
images from her exhibit,
at The CUNY Graduate Center,
365 5th Ave at 34th St.
on Friday, Sept.23, at 4pm
in the Martin Segal Theater.
The event is sponsored by the Center for Humanities.
The exhibit can be viewed online at
Click on: "Exhibit:The Struggle for Free Speech at CCNY
March and Rally in New Orleans October 1 to Save Avondale
This effort looks like it's picking up steam and is
getting publicity around the country. Many of you probably
know something of at least the fairly recent history of
the long efforts to organize Avondale, which finally bore
fruit after much determination and the standard panoply or
employer tactics. Now Northrup Grumman, the welfare
billionaire defense contractor who purchased the yard a
little more than a decade ago, announced last year its
plans to shut down completely by 2013. Layoffs have been
going on for a year or more.
Avondale is the largest private employer offering decent
wages in the region, and, despite many entreaties from
elected officials and others in the area, the Obama
administration has not attempted to bring any pressure to
bear -- despite Northrup Grumman's dependence on federal
contracts -- on the company to keep the yard open or to
support pursuit of efforts to convert it to other use that
would have comparable employment effects. In March of this
year Northrup Grumman spun off Avondale's ownership to
Huntington Ingalls Industries, a subsidiary wholly owned
by Northrup Grumman. Just as in the effort to win union
recognition, which was a major labor fight in the 1990s,
this effort can be a significant fight against the
intensifying assault on workers now. It can provide an
opportunity to draw a line in the dirt against
unrestrained capital flight, especially among corporations
that are also significant government contractors. The
national AFL-CIO is involved, along with local unions and
other groups identified in the attached flyer, in
mobilizing to save the shipyard.
The next step in this mobilization is a march and rally at
the federal building in New Orleans on Saturday, Oct 1, to
demonstrate popular support for keeping the yard open and
the workers employed.
I know it's relatively short notice, but I'd urge everyone
on this list -- particularly those with media or
institutional connections -- to spread the word about this
struggle and, if possible to participate in the Oct 1
event and to urge others within your own personal
networks, memberships, audiences or other constituencies
to do the same.
This is a very important fight for New Orleans and the
Gulf Coast. It is one that also can condense crucially
important issues at this moment for the country as a
whole, among them federal spending priorities, the role of
the labor movement in fighting for and to maintain decent
jobs, the federal government's responsibility to address
the current crisis of unemployment and underemployment,
and the actual requirements of economic recovery.
I've pasted a link below to the flyer for the Oct 1 rally,
that includes particulars and contact info as well as a
recent article from the New Orleans Times-Picayune on the
Save our Shipyard coalition and one from last year on
Northrup-Grumman's announcement of its plan to close the
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