Another Thing to Miss About Bob--He Was Always Good for Mail
As many grassroots organizations do, the Baltimore Green Party has changed a lot since the departure of Bob Kaufman ("A. Robert Kaufman," Mobtown Beat, Jan. 6). Not having been a member of the party or a city resident at the time he withdrew himself from the party, I can't comment on the specifics of what happened. For most of us, a pile of dusty letters, statements, and notes from both sides--with the truth, as usual, somewhere in the middle--is all that remains of those events. I never met Bob, but I've heard enough about him to choose the lessons I--and I hope the other members of the Green Party--will take from his life of struggle.
I believe that his spirit of activism and his sense of racial, social, and economic justice is how the Baltimore Green Party will choose to remember Bob Kaufman. Regardless of differences in political strategy, these are what we value most of all. We are sad that an advocate for justice is gone, and we invite others who hold that spirit of activism to join us as we continue to work for the things that Bob valued, on his behalf.
Co-chair, Baltimore City Green Party
I'd like to commend Michael Melick for his letter in your Jan. 13 issue about the late activist Robert Kaufman ("It's All Politics"). Michael, along with Rev. Marion Bascom and, especially, writer Michael Olesker gave impassioned reminiscences of this socialist activist at his commemoration ceremony held on Jan. 6 at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.
The rabbi pointed out that Bob had never set foot therein. Bob's sister played a role in organizing the event, which was attended by over 100 people.
The thing about Bob that Michael is missing, in my opinion, is that there is a skill to working with people. As right as Bob was with the socialist precepts, he still could be disruptive at a meeting--overly argumentative, grandstanding, etc.--and to attribute the disapproval to persons not sharing the gospel is just not true. He could just make progress difficult.
Bob was great at raising issues--that doesn't mean he was a great organizer at another level. If you watch the recent excellent film Che by Steven Soderbergh, you get a good sense of how Che could inspire, and how exemplary revolutionary meetings can be held in even a doomed scenario. Had Bob been present, he would probably have been sent back to be with the wiser (in a certain sense) apparatchik heads of the Bolivian Communist Party in La Paz. They did not support Che, nor, did Che get enough support from the workers and peasants, as he had in Cuba, although you can see how he had hopes. You have to wonder how much Che and his band knew all this. The desolation of the Bolivian landscape adds to the poignancy.
Both with Bob, and Che--to a much greater degree--there was a ringing, stirring quality to their best points, and that was evident at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. You sensed a spirit in the room. You got the feeling that, had Bob not existed, regardless of his "people skills," he would have had to have been invented . . . something like that. And, if you count the votes he got in his many campaigns for office, he spoke for many Baltimoreans.
For Bob to be protesting in the civil rights movement at the age of 16--there was a hint of precocious genius to that. Go figure.
I'm writing in reference to the Alex Fine illustration in the recent Anna Ditkoff article "In My Place" (Feature, Dec. 23, 2009).
I find it difficult to believe that the muralist depicted in the illustration could have painted the fine details with merely a paint roller. I realize that there's a brush on the ground, but I don't think it's even been used! Furthermore, even though this illustration is in grayscale, I think you'd need more than one can of paint. The illustration was so distracting in its inaccuracy that I wasn't able to concentrate on what may or may not have been an interesting or informative article. I'll never know.
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