A memorial to celebrate the life of an unforgettable wobbly - Richard Myers (update: location change)
If you're a regular reader of this blog you know, by now, that my friend and fellow wobbly, Richard Myers, passed away this past December. Richard was always thoughtful and sincere, and he was not pugnacious or stubborn, he didn't encourage nor engage in infighting but instead always encouraged unity and companionship, and understanding between folks who stemmed even from clashing backgrounds. He was a peacemaker by any definition. He was never irrational or "extreme" but he was a genuine radical who wouldn't dare break solidarity or cross a picket line. He was great at debunking myths, easing tension, developing relationships between those who struggled from different origins but similar goals, and finding common ground in the many struggles for justice against the adversary of Neo-liberal capitalism. He was a true working class revolutionary, and he carried the spirit of the wobblies of yesterday and today. For those of us who couldn't always get along with each other we all could always get along with Richard, so he was like glue that held us together in many respects, and was a unifier of all working class peoples, active in several causes at once and always in consistent ways. Whether it was a struggle for justice for police abuse, or a struggle for workers' rights and dignity, or First Nations lands and treaty rights, for a safe and clean living environment, the right of working class people to be treated fairly and with respect whether they were documented migrants or not, a firm believer that "no human is illegal," or for freedom of speech and expression, and the integrity of history so that capitalist revisionism could not erase the labor movement from history the way it has so desired, freedom from unjust authoritarianism of all kinds and so much more that the list is endless. Richard saw these not as separate, isolated single-issue causes, but rather he saw them as One Big Movement. He was an historian, an author, an activist, a contributor to Daily Kos, host of Rebel Graphics, and whether the issue was LGBT rights, women's rights, workers rights, indigenous peoples rights, homeless people's rights, putting people above profits, racial peace and equality, no matter the just cause Richard was always there, always involved - often on the front lines. This past December we lost one of the legs upon which all our struggles marched forward toward victory, and the best way to honor him is to continue to educate, agitate and organize!
On a more personal note:
Richard was the first person I had ever met who was actually a member of the IWW rather than someone who merely knew there was ever such an Industrial Union, and even someone like that, someone merely informed, was hard to come by at the time. Richard was, therefore, part of what brought the IWW back to life after nearly 75 years of apparent dormancy (since the 1920s Palmer Raids). When I first met him it was during a forum at the old Breakdown Books Collective when they shared space with The Other Side Art Collective (prior to 9/11/01), where he explained that the factory where he worked was increasingly outsourcing jobs to countries with very low, if any, labor and environmental protection standards, and logically he understood that trying to keep "American jobs" here through protectionist policies was no solution, nor was begging for mercy from governments and their institutions, his solution was to build the border-less One Big Union of all Industrial Workers of the World. He helped me find my second job in 2008 working to stop the Right-To-Work legislation that would have destroyed what's left of Colorado's economy for working people. We won that battle through mostly door-to-door canvassing in the run up to the election but we both knew that election was not the end of it, and we continued working together. I always liked working with Richard whether we were paid campaigners or volunteers, whether it was this or that cause, it was always worthwhile. Our movements need more like him to say the least. Through global solidarity we can win, and he knew that, so he will be greatly missed but we should carry the torch forward by any means necessary - it's just what he would have done, it's what he did do, and I'll never forget him and his commitment to justice.
The following is from an e-mail received by yours truly, Eval Herz:
As many of you know, our dear friend Richard Myers passed this December. Richard was an incredible historian, a devoted union member, and a beloved member of our community. Please join us on February 10 for a celebration of Richard's life. The event will feature music and theater from David Rovics, Elena Klaver, and the Romero Troupe. Donations for the family warmly accepted, but definitely not required.
Sunday Feb 10
North Classroom, room 1130
There is on-site parking as well as access from lightrail. Please feel free to email me if you need transportation assistance. Also, please forward this email widely to your lists.
"Traditionally in every tribal society, medicine sprang from and was the property of the tribe and the people as a whole. In the middle ages, the church based medical establishment deliberately and methodically substituted a patriarchal, hierarchical medical paradigm. It is my goal with the projects I've been helping to set up around the world to return medicine to the hands of the people from which it sprang." - Doc Rosen