Stephen Zunes [A remembrance: 1961-62]

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Sun Nov 10 19:05:58 MST 2002


Jason Schulman has just posted, on ASDnet, a piece by Stephen Zunes --
"Pelosi Win Not A Progressive Victory."  It's well worth  reading -- and I
pass along the Link:  http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1110-02.htm

But this is a late Sunday afternoon -- snow in Idaho -- word or two about
the article's author.  It's been a  good while since I last saw him.  But I
do remember him, for sure.

Just married, Eldri and I went to Mississippi in the late Summer of '61,
where I taught at private Tougaloo Southern Christian College [Black] and
she worked in the school's business office.  We became involved immediately
in the Magnolia State's then incipient Movement [remaining in the South
until '67.]

Tougaloo had some fascinating faculty and administration people.  Rose
Branch, the excellent dean of students, was an aunt of Paul Zuber, a very
effective East Coast civil rights lawyer; Ethel Mae Taylor, who taught
English, had a favorite radical nephew, David Sarvis, who played the Eastern
mining boss in Salt of the Earth; Dr John Shannon [Education] and his wife,
who had emerged from retirement to come and teach in Mississippi,  had been
caretakers of the Debs home at Terre Haute [his son, David, had written The
Decline of American Communism and Dr Shannon's brother, Fred, had written
classic stuff on the Populist movement in the United States.]  There were
many, many more extraordinary people of all sorts of races and
backgrounds -- the only sour note being a Dr Jose Cid [Chemistry] who turned
out to be a Batista supporter and who left after a year.  [Many, many years
later when we thoroughly inspected the files of the old State Sovereignty
Commission, we learned that Dr Cid had become an informer for that secret
police/spy agency, filing a number of venomous reports about me, an open
member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee who used C. Wright Mills' fine
pro-Cuban Revolution book, Listen Yankee, in my classes.]

And then there was Stephen Zunes.

He was a sharp and sensitive child of about five at that point -- who was a
demonstrated non-conformist.  His parents, John and Helen Zunes, were good
friends of ours.  John taught physics.  Helen, by interesting coincidence,
was a cousin of an old Arizona friend of mine, Bill Karnes, a vice-president
of AFT [and an effective radical] who was a key leader in the quite
substantial Phoenix Local 1010, of which I was its sole at-large member.
The Zunes family left Mississippi after that first year but we saw them at a
couple of points later on.

Stephen at Tougaloo, as I recall, listened fairly well and spoke sharply on
a wide variety of topics.  He was not inclined to be thwarted. There were
those who saw him as an arrogant little brat -- and others, like myself, who
probably recognized a kindred spirit.

And then there were those who worried about him

As he spent one afternoon,  repeatedly lying down on the main college campus
street and forcing every vehicle in both directions to totally stop before
he arose in leisurely fashion, let them pass, and then lay down again, Mrs
Shannon, a dear soul, turned to Eldri and me and asked in a genuinely
concerned fashion, "Whatever is going to become of Stephen?"

I'm extremely glad all the cars did stop that afternoon in Mississippi.

Hunter

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
www.hunterbear.org
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