Elsie Fox biography

Readers might be interested in a newly-published biography of Elsie Fox, Communist Party member and labor activist from the 1930s to the present. The book, “Elsie Fox, Portrait of an Activist” is a collaboration with Elsie by Karen Stevenson.

Elsie’s story begins with her early farm life, her coming of age, and her radicalization in the 1930s.

When Elsie moved to Seattle in the 1930s, she met my mother, life-long Communist Party member and artist Cecilia Corr, who painted a water color portrait of her. Elsie kept the portrait all her life, and Stevenson uses that image as the cover of the biography.

Elsie found Karl Marx in the public library in Seattle, and soon met a Communist, who said, “Lady, I can fix you up.” He took her to a meeting, where she joined the party in 1933. She was an activist with the Voice of Action, a left newspaper of the time, and helped distribute the Waterfront Worker, which was part of the organizing drive of the longshoremen.

After the war, Elsie moved to San Francisco, where she became office manager for the ILWU. She worked closely with ILWU President Harry Bridges until she retired from that job after 28 years in 1973.

Elsie married Ernest Fox, an organizer for the party. She spent the war years trying to free Ernest, who was jailed as a German national, enlisting the help of Bridges and other labor leaders who testified to his loyalty to the U.S. war effort.

Constant harassment by the FBI, the Smith Act Trials, and the threat of Ernie’s deportation under the McCarran Internal Security Act never stopped Elsie from her commitment to ending capitalism, a belief she holds to this day.

Elsie is still alive in Montana, over 100 years old, and still very perky. Stevenson tells the story of the left-wing movement from Elsie’s point of view, bouncing elegantly back and forth between past and the present.

Reading it would be a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month.

William Corr
Waldron WA

Tazers are deadly

We are all meant to laugh at local news anchors getting a tazering to show it isn’t really dangerous. Of course the tazer prongs aren’t shot into the skin of the newscasters, just taped to them.

Tazers are the latest in an arsenal of deadly weapons promoted as non-lethal and used to pretty-up the police. We all remember how non-lethal rubber bullets were supposed to be. Eight people in the U.S. have been killed by the cops using tazers so far in 2009.

Jay Rothermel
Via e-mail

Family tree

I gather that People’s Weekly World is a direct descendant of the west coast newspapers Western Worker and People’s Daily World. In view of this, I’m wondering if somewhere in the main offices of PWW there is an index to Western Worker and People’s Daily World. Thanks.

Mike Perez
Via e-mail

Editor’s note: Archives of the Western Worker and People’s World are located at the Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University, 480 Winston Dr., San Francisco 94132, phone (415) 564-4010.

Back issues and individual articles from the People’s Weekly World are available from Proquest, PO Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346, (800) 521-0600.

For microfilm copies of the People’s Weekly World from 1992 to the present, call Lexis-Nexus at (800) 638-8380.

Tamiment Library is host to the photo collections from The Daily Worker and The Communist Party USA. The collections at the Tamiment are considered to be among the best sources of information in the U.S. on the history of radical politics. Tamiment Library is located on the campus of New York University, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 10th Floor, 70 Washington Square South (West 4th btwn LaGuardia and Greene Streets), New York City. Visit their website: www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/research/tam/index.html.

How’s he doing?

President Barack Obama’s first months as president will be marked as historically significant for its shift away from the fraudulent “trickle down” economic model begun by Ronald Reagan almost 30 years ago.

The first significant policy vote was to approve and increase the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or SCHIP, providing health insurance for 4 million more children then the old system.

The Republicans en masse voted against SCHIP with West Michigan congressman Pete Hoekstra using the specter of children of “illegal immigrants” possibly being eligible as part of his opposition to the bill. Hoekstra’s no vote was duplicated by most of the rest of the Republicans in the House, the final vote being 289 yes, 139 no.

Probably the most important and problematic area for Obama is his apparent willingness to escalate a warfare setting in South Asia. The all too frequent civilian losses and casualties in Afghanistan and most recently in drone missile attacks in Pakistan must be ended and humanitarian missions such as protecting girls schools, roads, water and agricultural projects should be our primary endeavor and concern.

We are entering a new era with Obama, hopefully a more representative Congress and an active populace.

How will things evolve? Predictions?

Brian McAfee
Muskegon Heights MI

Stop torpedoing

The ultra right has launched a fierce all out counterrevolution, long before we in the U.S.A. experience even a resemblance of genuine revolution. But make no mistake, what we see from the other side, of torpedoing anyone that President Obama nominates and is progressive, with all sorts of slander and vicious attacks is a well planned and superbly executed strategy by a wounded but not dead ruling class hell-bent on turning the Obama administration, product of our own voting landslide, into a futile four years.

Bush appointed federal prosecutors have turned the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (DOJCRD) upside sown, feverishly scanning microscope looking for tiny peccadilloes by Obama appointees while letting whale sized heinous crimes swim by.

There are more areas in need of urgent prosecution by genuinely devoted DOJCRD prosecutors, instead of nitpicking to sabotage appointees of our genuinely elected president.

Ana Lucia Gelabert
Gatesville TX

Closing Guantanamo

Anyone who believes that the abuses, conditions, and denial of human rights at Guantanamo holds a candle to that of our domestic prison systems is wholly disconnected from the realities of prison life in the United States. As the ACLU and attorneys for the Guantanamo detainees fight to close the prison and have the detainees transferred to the continent, those already imprisoned in this country long for those subtler and better publicized Guantanamo abuses. Any such transferred detainees are in for the rudest of awakenings.

Martin Jordan
Florence CO

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