[Marxism] Fw: [LAAMN] Dorothy Healey Dies
John A Imani
johnaimani2 at sbcglobal.net
Thu Aug 10 13:30:51 MDT 2006
----- Original Message -----
From: John A Imani
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 11:59 AM
Subject: Fw: [LAAMN] Dorothy Healey Dies
I too met Dorothy Healy as a young communist in the LACC Black Student Union. It was through Rose Chernin and the "Committee for the Defense of the Bill of Rights" a CP organization which sometimes availed itself as a source for bail money and/lawyers. (We used to call them 'cookies and milk' communists as we considered ourselves the radicals. Totally unaware of some of the heroic struggles they had went through (and because of that, perhaps, had become more conservative.) John's assessment of her is as I remember: she was a remarkably gracious woman.
----- Original Message -----
From: John Johnson
To: change-links at yahoogroups.com
Cc: actionla at lists.riseup.net
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 1:17 PM
Subject: [LAAMN] Dorothy Healey Dies
Many of us activist from the Sixties were familar
with and new Dorothy Healey. She had a long time
radio show on KPFK, during and after her membership in the Communist Party.
We in SDS had regular battles with her and the CP
in the Sixties. We were "too radical" and "too
activist" for the Party's brand of political
organizing. Back then they often supported
Democratic Party Candidates. But she was always
pleasant in her political manipulations.
When she got older and moved back to Washington
DC to be near her son we all missed her.
Dorothy Healey, 91; Lifelong Communist Fought for Working People
By Dennis McLellan, Times Staff Writer
August 8, 2006
Dorothy Healey, a onetime labor organizer, civil
rights activist and Marxist radio commentator who
was chairwoman of the Southern California
district of the Communist Party USA from the late
1940s through the 1960s, has died. She was 91.
Healey, dubbed "the Red Queen of Los Angeles" by
headline writers during her heyday, died Sunday
of pneumonia in the Greater Washington Hebrew
Home, said her son, Richard. She had been a
resident of Washington, D.C., since 1983.
The diminutive Healey, who stood just under 5
feet tall and once wore a pendant that pictured a
clenched fist raised as a symbol of solidarity
and militancy, fought a lifelong battle against
what she called the oppression of the middle class and minorities.
"She was a heartfelt revolutionary of her time,"
Donna Wilkinson, the widow of national civil
liberties leader Frank Wilkinson, told The Times
on Monday. "She was always so fiercely partisan
for working people. Yes, of course, she cared
about war and peace and women's issues, but she
was always concerned about working people."
The daughter of Hungarian Jewish immigrants,
Healey was born in Denver on Sept. 22, 1914. Her
father was a traveling salesman, and the family
moved from Denver to California when she was 6.
Constantly on the move because of her father's
work selling smoked meat and cheese, Healey
attended 19 schools. Her father died when she was 16.
Healey, whose Socialist mother was a founding
member of the Communist Party in America, joined
the Young Communist League in 1928, when she was 14.
"I joined the Young Communist League out of a
feeling of hate and love," she told an audience
at Golden West College in Huntington Beach in
1977. "I hated the system that reduced all humans
to a feeling of total helplessness . of fear over what each day would bring.
"I loved the humans who lived under these
[conditions] and I respected their potential."
She was arrested for the first time at 14 for
selling the Daily Worker newspaper and making a speech on skid row in Oakland.
At 16, she dropped out of school and helped
organize a union and a strike at a cannery in San Jose, where she worked.
By 1933, she was organizing agricultural workers
in the Imperial Valley. By the end of the decade,
she was international vice president of the
Congress of Industrial Organization's Cannery,
Agriculture and Packing House Workers union.
Healey was brought into leadership of the party
in Los Angeles at the end of World War II. She
became leader of the Communist Party USA's
Southern California district, the second largest
after New York. She also became a member of the party's National Committee.
In 1951, Healey and 14 other Californians were
indicted and convicted under the Smith Act for
conspiring to advocate the overthrow of the
government by force and violence. Although she
was sentenced to five years in prison and fined
$10,000, her sentence was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1957.
"The decision was the government had to show
and they had not shown that the advocacy was
intended to motivate people immediately to
action, not merely the reading of old Marxists texts," her son said.
From 1956 on, when Healey learned the truth from
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's so-called
"secret speech," in which he revealed Stalin's
crimes to the 20th Congress of the Soviet
Communist Party, Healey became an advocate for
democratizing the American Communist Party and
sought more independence from Soviet control.
That led her to become an outspoken critic of the
1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, a country
she had visited the previous year. Because of her
opposition to the national leaders of the
American Communist Party, she resigned as
chairman of the Southern California district.
In 1973, she resigned from the American Communist
Party. She said, however, that she remained a
staunch communist and was as much an enemy of capitalism as ever.
"My resignation from the Communist Party will not
bring comfort to anti-Communists on either the
right or left," she said on her semimonthly
commentary broadcast over radio station KPFK-FM (90.7).
"My hatred of capitalism, which degrades and
debases humans, is as intense now as it was when
I joined the Young Communist League in 1928," she
said. "I remain a communist, as I have been all
my life, albeit without a party."
Healey then joined the New American Movement, a
nationwide organization for democratic socialism,
co-founded by her son. She later joined the
Democratic Socialists of America and became a
vice president of the organization.
"Dorothy was a rebel, and it was her rebellious
nature that made her such an effective union
leader in the 1930s," Maurice Isserman, coauthor,
with Healey, of the 1990 book "Dorothy Healey
Remembers: A Life in the Communist Party," told The Times on Monday.
Isserman, a historian at Hamilton College in
Clinton, N.Y., said Healey's union activism in
the '30s "led her to become an advocate of black
and Chicano rights at a time when few other
people were speaking out on such issues."
In 1979, a collection of Healey's papers and
other material, purchased by the Cal State Long
Beach library for an estimated $11,000 to
$14,000, was dedicated at the library, where she
was guest of honor and keynote speaker.
The last time Healey had appeared on the Long
Beach campus at the invitation of a radical
student group in the late '60s she had been heckled and jeered.
But by 1979, according to a Times account of the
dedication, "she hardly raised an eyebrow among
an audience of 100 students and faculty members."
In his review of Healey's 1990 book in The Times,
Jonathan Kirsch wrote that it "is essentially a
political testament by a witness to history, a
memoir by an Old Bolshevik who was never a true
believer because she was cursed with an
unrelenting conscience and a ribald sense of humor."
But at its most touching moments, Kirsch wrote,
Healey's book "is more nearly a melodrama the
struggle of a zealous, principled and
compassionate woman to make sense of life and
love in a world utterly devoted to radical politics."
Wilkinson, who knew Healey for more than 40
years, said "old age had ravaged" Healey's body,
"but she read four newspapers up to the end and
knew exactly what's going on in the Mideast and
South Central Los Angeles. She paid attention to what was going on."
Married and divorced three times, Healey moved
from Los Angeles to Washington to be near her
son, who, along with two grandsons, survives her.
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