FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 12/10
BP Funds Climate Ed
Evening with Evo
Jailed for Activism
Tea Party Threat
Resistance in Oaxaca
Faces of ELAM
Labor's Civil War
Zaps - 11/10
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Irwin Silber, 1925-2010
Silber with Barbara Dane
Irwin Silber is recalled today as a primary creator of the urban folk song revival, which grew out of the 1940s and culminated in the early 1960s. He died on September 8 in Oakland, California from complications of Alzheimer's disease.
Silber was born in Manhattan on October 17, 1925 just in time to experience his formative years during the Great Depression. Like many of his contemporaries in New York City's working-class Jewish community, Silber joined the Young Communist League and then the Communist Party. As a student at Brooklyn College, he organized the American Folksay Group. Through his associations with the likes of Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax, Silber became an integral part of Seeger's post-war People's Songs organization, an independent artist-run collective which not only sought to publish the songs of veteran left-wing folksingers, but also grew into a national network for their publicity and management. Silber was on the founding committee of People's Songs and a frequent contributor to its newsletter, The People's Songs Newsletter, an important means of communication among leftist folksingers and which published many important songs.
By 1948, due to pressures from the increasingly rightward trend in the nation, the organization fell victim to red-baiting and ultimately disbanded. By 1950, the newsletter, too, was gone. Silber, recognizing the strength of a national magazine to publish and popularize new topical songs, created Sing Out! later that year. He served as its editor until 1968, publishing articles and songs by Woody Guthrie, Seeger, Malvina Reynolds, Leadbelly, and many other artists performing on college campuses and in coffee houses.
As the icons of the initial folk revival gave way to the 1960s' generation, Silber's magazine (along with Sis Cunningham's Broadside) became most noted for its publication of songs by Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and other rising stars then selling out folk festivals. Coverage of these artists, as well as their latest songs, made Sing Out! a folksinger's bible. In 1965, as Dylan went electric, Silber found himself in the midst of battle as his fiery criticism saw Dylan refusing to publish any more songs in the magazine. Silber's confrontation with Dylan, as well as attacks on other notables of the day, including Phil Ochs, meant that Silber eventually fell into disfavor. In 1968, he was asked to leave Sing Out! His hard-line stand appeared to reflect the old Left even though he'd severed ties with the Communist Party by 1955. Ironically, Silber had by then become a driving force in an SDS offshoot, the decidedly Maoist New Communist Movement, and went on to write and edit their newspaper, the Guardian.
Throughout his life, Irwin Silber can best be described as a cultural worker. When, in the late 1950s, he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he memorably told the Committee that his work at the Communist Party-led Jefferson School of Social Science was teaching square dancing. During his years with Sing Out!, he made an effort to focus on songs of protest—civil rights, the Vietnam War, the women's movement, and any number of struggles for liberation. In 1964, Silber married jazz vocalist/activist Barbara Dane and the two set out to record and publish songs of revolution around the world. He and Dane maintained their own record label, Paredon, to preserve the music until, in 1980, it was given to Folkways.
Silber published several books on folk music and authored a number of works on politics. In 2004, he wrote a biography of Lester Rodney, sportswriter for the Communist Party newspaper the Daily Worker, completing the circle of his radical life and times.
John Pietaro is a cultural worker and labor organizer from New York City.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.