Glad to read it

I was startled and so happy to see two pictures of Marvel Cooke and a full-page spread about her by my former colleague, Marilyn Bechtel (PWW 3/7-13).

I too was a very old friend of Marvel’s and was with her in her apartment not long before the end. Marilyn’s account is very full, but I would like to add a few notes on Marvel’s very rich life.

She told me that Richard Wright wrote “Black Boy” on her kitchen table. She visited him later in Paris.

I once mentioned to her that Ossie Davis was in a play on Broadway. I took her to it and persuaded her to go backstage afterwards. As we walked down the corridor I heard his deep voice call out “Marvel!”

I suppose at the insistence of Dr. Du Bois, she was one of the group of four who went to Branch Rickey to persuade him to hire Jackie Robinson for the Dodgers.

Roger Wilkins, formerly with the Justice Department and now teaching at George Mason University, is her nephew. He helped out when someone stole the contents of her bank account.

Her husband, who died before I met her, was one of three Black members of his class at Syracuse University. He was an athlete and so was one of his classmates, Jesse Owens. He and the Cookes remained friends.

I am so happy the World ran the article, and especially thanks to Marilyn.

Alan Thomson

Flushing NY

Robert Smalls: great American

Robert Smalls is remembered, in parts of South Carolina, as an incredible hero of the Civil War. But there are many Americans who never heard of him.

He was a slave with a vast knowledge of ship navigation, who planned, with other slaves, to steer through Charleston harbor to the Union navy a Confederate ship, The Planter, while the white officers went ashore. On board were his wife and others who knew that if they were discovered, they would be killed.

After he made contact with the Union navy he and his fellow slaves were welcomed.

Within a few short weeks, this humble hero met with President Lincoln and was later authorized to organize 5,000 African American as the 1st and 2nd South Carolina Volunteers. By Christmas, the Commander-in-Chief promoted Smalls to captain his own vessel.

After the Civil War, he became active in Reconstruction, first as congressman and then senator.

Many books have been written about Robert Smalls. He deserves to be honored and remembered by all Americans.

Dorothy Greene Pita

Teaneck NJ

More on single-payer

I enjoyed Flávio Casoy’s article (PWW 2/28-3/6) on fighting for a single-payer health plan. His emphasis on avoiding a sectarian approach to the fight is critical. The tendency of my-way-or-the-highway has always been devastating to moving major issues forward.

Seymour Joseph

Brooklyn NY

Flávio Casoy’s opinion piece was disappointing on several fronts. It did not accurately characterize the single-payer movement, it did not describe the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) principles, and it uses labels such as “sectarian” and “labor-backed” to justify a position.

Although as in most progressive movements there are those who may be sectarian or divisive, to even mention this with regard to the broad movement for single-payer is divisive, marginalizes single-payer, and is frankly a red herring.

It should have been noted that HCAN hit the scene in mid-2008 during the election campaign, perhaps not so coincidentally when single payer was gaining momentum. Many single-payer advocates, myself included, viewed this as a deliberate attempt to derail the single-payer movement and pour millions of dollars into a campaign based on an assumption that single-payer did not have a chance, quite an assumption in the middle of an unprecedented all peoples’ campaign.

It may be true as debate and hearings go through Congress that health care reform in the form of HR 676 (often called the Conyers bill) may not pass and that adjustments in demands will be necessary, adjustments that most single-payer advocates recognize as a possibility. With HCAN prematurely throwing in the towel and assuming that negotiations must start with preserving the insurance companies, where is there room to maneuver?

However, if HR 676 is the starting point for debate, there is room to come out with reform that lays the groundwork for single-payer if it does not fully succeed in the immediate future.

It is premature to assume that single-payer cannot pass and that fighting for it is divisive or sectarian. Single-payer has HR 676. HCAN, at the moment, only has speculation.

David S. Bell

Philadelphia PA

Flávio Casoy replies: Mr. Bell’s comments demonstrate an incomplete understanding of my arguments. I strongly believe that in order for us to win a real, single-payer health care reform victory — a victory that I believe is possible — we must engage with the broad labor movement and other progressive organizations in order to build support for it. By joining HCAN, progressives are not giving up on real health care reform, but creating new opportunities for engagement with organizations that are our natural allies. Furthermore, I did not state that supporting a single-payer solution or HR676 is sectarian, but that the pro- single-payer organizations that do behave in divisive ways are harmful not only to the single-payer movement, but to the progressive agenda as a whole.

There are many strong single-payer organizations that engage productively with non-single-payer organizations without weakening our advocacy or our position. In fact, non-sectarian single-payer activists create a voice for us in the national reform debate.

Prisoner request

I’m a Hispanic person, deprived of my liberty, and I never have any money in my account. I would like to know if you could help me to receive your paper. I’d be grateful to all of you.

Juan Pérez Gómez

Iowa Park TX

Editor’s note: A new Pew Center on the States study has found there are more than 7.3 million Americans in the corrections system — or one in every 31 adults.

We try our best to meet every prisoner request for a subscription. Currently we send 46 complimentary subscriptions to prisoners, including the Cuban Five. If readers would like to donate to defray the cost, please do! For online donations go to For check or money order send to 235 W. 23 St., NYC, NY 10011 and mark it for prisoners’ subscriptions. Over the phone: (646) 437-5362. Cost of an annual subscription is $39.95.

We want to hear from you!

By mail:

People’s Weekly World

3339 S. Halsted St.

Chicago IL 60608


Letters should be limited to 200 words. We reserve the right to edit stories and letters. Only signed letters with the return address of the sender will be considered for publication, but the name of the sender will be withheld on request.

Follow us on twitter –