Wednesday, January 12, 2005

R.I.P., James Forman who I had the great pleasure of meeting in Washington, D.C. in April of 1985. I was with a group of people setting up early for a national march against U.S. policy on Central America. We had fliers we were hoping to get out, he had his books and a pamphlet to distribute. Forman knew some of the people I came to the march with and they introduced us. As we each waited for our friends to gather, we talked and he spoke about SNCC and his years of activism. He gave me or I purchased (I can't remember which) his book "The Making of Black Revolutionaries."

What differentiated him from many of the movement "leaders" I have met over the years, was his willingness to do the grunt work involved in keeping a movement viable. Some of the big-name speakers would show up at the demonstration hours later in time for their speech and then be whisked off to another important gathering. Not Forman: he was there at the crack of dawn, with books and pamphlets at the ready, eager to speak to other activists -- even a complete stranger from the Midwest.

About Forman's contributions to the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) -- pronounced "Snick":

"He imbued the organization with a camaraderie and collegiality that I've never seen in any organization before or since," said Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP and SNCC's communications director during Mr. Forman's tenure.


Sunday's StarTribune had an article about the reactions of local refugees to the elections in Palestine. Ayman Balshe, a local activist, is quoted along with his mother. Hanan. I managed to meet this family last summer when Ayman was playing a lead role in the play
With Love from Ramallah. At only 23, Ayman has become an eloquent spokesman for Palestinians in the Midwest.


And in another local-global connection, St. Joan of Arc church posted a letter from Sami Rasouli, Minneapolis' unofficial Ambassador from Iraq. Sami moved back to Iraq in November to help his family and his country rebuild. A poet and a wonderful friend, Sami's reports make my heart break even as it fills with hope for the Iraqi people.


Quote of the Day

From an article by economist Paul Hawken:

I once gave a talk at an elementary school to third graders, and I told them that there are a billion people in the world who want to work and can't work.

A girl raised her hand and said, "Is all the work done?"