Who Was Sylvia?
When I was an up-and-coming young activist in New York City back in the early 1960s, I began to learn that the entire world wasn’t just like myself. A rather typical New York Jew, not particularly religious in those days and not at all religious these days, I spoke with that same accent that I thought everyone else except radio and TV announcers used. It wasn’t terribly conscious, I just sort of unconsciously assumed that. As a younger teen, I learned that there was another kind of music than the rock ‘n’ roll I was used to as well, which was known as country western.
When I first met Sylvia Weinstein, it really surprised me to hear someone talking revolutionary socialist politics, filled with fire and enthusiasm, but with a Southern accent. Really? There really were white people with those politics who spoke that way? Quite a shock. It wasn’t until many years later when I heard the voice of Nelson Blackstock, another southern white who was a revolutionary activist too, that I began to realize that not all southern whites were reactionary. Oh, sure, I knew that intellectually, but to see it in real people helped me to broaden my outlook on life.
When I began coming around the Socialist Workers Party and the Young Socialist Alliance, I got to meet Sylvia and her husband Nat, who was the New York Branch Organizer of the SWP. Sylvia was often a party speaker and candidate. Our paths crossed over the years, from my days in the SWP, to my days after both of us were no longer in the SWP. Somehow when we met we were always part of the same struggle, or something similar at the minimum.
Not long after Sylvia’s death, her family and comrades decided to put together a book of her writings. I contributed a photo which captures Sylvia very much as I remember her, giving a speech in support of some good thing or against some bad thing. She was not one of those who sat around and just criticized. She was a part of every struggle when I knew her. And her writings ran the gamut as well. The publishers of the anthology of her writings kindly sent me several of the chapters which are of the greatest interest to me in my work, mostly related to Cuba solidarity, and I’ve put them together on a series of eight web-pages which can give readers a sense of this remarkable working class woman and her terrific ability to communicate essential ideas in a language completely accessible to an ordinary public.
There are several items on Cuba, one each on Dorothy Day and Adrienne Rich, and the transcript of a speech which contains an unusual amount of autiobiographical material, things I’d never known about her when she was alive and active. I think you will enjoy taking a look at the material and would encourage you to buy a copy of the book. Purchasing details on the page. Hell of a bargain at $25.00 plus $5.95 shipping and handling.
FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein
Socialist Viewpoint Publishing Association
ISBN: 0-9763570-0-3, 360 pp.
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