Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

History lesson: Who are the real patriots?




Many African-American witnesses subpoenaed to testify at the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings in the 1950s were asked to denounce Paul Robeson (1888–1976) in order to obtain future employment.

Robeson, an All-American football player and recipient of a Phi Beta Kappa key at Rutgers, received a law degree at Columbia. He became an internationally acclaimed concert performer and actor as well as a persuasive political speaker.

In 1949, Robeson was the subject of controversy after newspapers reports of public statements that African Americans would not fight in “an imperialist war.” In 1950, his passport was revoked.

Several years later, Robeson refused to sign an affidavit stating that he was not a Communist and initiated an unsuccessful lawsuit.

In the following testimony to a HUAC hearing, ostensibly convened to gain information regarding his passport suit, Robeson refused to answer questions concerning his political activities and lectured bigoted Committee members Rep. Gordon H. Scherer (R-OH)  and Rep. Francis E. Walter (D-PA) about African-American history and civil rights.

In 1958, the Supreme Court ruled that a citizen’s right to travel could not be taken away without due process and Robeson’ passport was returned. 

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