[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.

John Imani

  ----- 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.

  John Johnson
  Change-Links Progressive Newspaper
  change-links at change-links.org
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