We can climb the mountain at Mt. Etna
But we can’t cross the bridge at Gretna
They shot helter-skelter
As the people were searching for shelter
From the storm called Katrina
Could anything be meaner?
Gloria Freedman, 90 years young, penned that poem after watching the “60 Minutes” feature in which the New Orleans suburb of Gretna blocked off a bridge and fired on a group of hurricane evacuees, the majority African American, refusing them entry into the town.
Freedman, a 70-year member of the Communist Party USA, read the poem to me in her New York apartment. Smiling, she said, “As disabled as I am, I find ways to make a contribution. I’ll always find a way to be of service to the party, the People’s Weekly World and the movement.”
Freedman contributes generously to the People’s Weekly World fund drive and sells subscriptions to her neighbors.
Displayed proudly on her wall is a plaque from her union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, for her 40 years of service, half of it as a member of the retirees executive board.
Freedman grew up on New York’s Lower East Side. At 19, she joined the Young Communist League. It was during the upsurge of the 1930s and New York was boiling with working-class struggles. “I would give speeches about the Daily Worker on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 12th Street and why it was such a wonderful newspaper and educates all of us,” she recalled.
After serving in the Army in World War II, Freedman went to Columbia University on the GI Bill and worked for the city’s Department of Human Services. She has accrued many insights on life, which she freely shares, including with her two sons who still seek her advice.
“Devoting your life to struggle and the party makes you a better person. I hope all the young people learn this and that we teach them to want to give their money and their time to this cause.”
Thank you Gloria for all you have taught us!