[Marxism] Al Maund

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at hunterbear.org
Mon Oct 29 09:09:37 MDT 2007

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: October 29 2007

Al Maund, a noted Southern novelist and civil rights and labor writer, died at a quite advanced age two nights ago at a hospice/nursing home in Ohio.  The news of Al's passing was conveyed to me by a good mutual friend, Nigel Hampton -- himself a Southerner and fine writer, one-time labor journalist, and now retired English prof in Michigan.  Al was an Anglo, as is Nigel [an age peer of mine] -- and each took outspoken positions against segregation and racism in times and settings when such stands took guts.

And they always kept fighting.

Al was born at Jennings, Louisiana and attended Tulane, eventually securing an M.A.  He worked as a sports writer for the Times-Picayune [New Orleans], taught English at Tulane and Livingston College in Alabama.  His social justice activist writings began to emerge early on and appeared in such journals as the Southern Patriot [Southern Conference Educational Fund] -- which he came to edit most capably for a number years during the McCarthy period.  He wrote also for Bert Cochran's truly excellent American Socialist and one of Al's fine pieces in that journal [April 1956] on the South and Struggle, "Walking their Way to Freedom", tells the basic story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  [That piece can readily be found via Louis Proyect's very welcome compilation of articles drawn from Cochran's magazine:  http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/amersocialist/american_socialist.htm

The Big Boxcar, 1957 and reissued in 1999 with an introduction by Alan Wald -- dealing with Deep South race relations in a freight car -- is probably Al's best known novel.  He did others -- and a favorite of mine, The International, 1961, focuses on American labor at mid-century, and broadly on the International Chemical Workers Union, and the rise of an organizer to the organization's presidency.  Among all of the other things I taught at Tougaloo College during my sojourn, was a Labor course on at least two occasions.  In addition to donated and regularly sent bundles of union newspapers [at least 15 different internationals], I used Al's novel as our text book -- always very well received by the students.

In the mid-1950s, Al edited a solid labor journal, Labor's Daily, out of Bettendorf, Iowa.  Around 1956, I sent him a short story of mine,  He didn't take it but he did take the time to give me a solid and most helpful critique.  It was, as was often the case with various kind and helpful editors with whom I had some contact, written out in ink on a sheet of paper.  [I saved a few of those things but, in those days, I moved around about as frequently as Geronimo -- always traveling pretty light.]

Al Maund, as with Nigel Hampton, did important work for the Chemical Workers from its base at Akron, Ohio.  The three of us had brief contact there -- the only time I actually ever met Al directly.  But he gave me some books, most of which I yet have.  One of those, a small collection of poems by Eve Merriam -- Montgomery, Alabama / Money, Mississippi / And Other Places -- was much borrowed by my Tougaloo students.

Over the years, I heard mostly of Al through another very good mutual friend, Jim Dombrowski, the executive director of SCEF until his retirement in late 1965.  Jim and I kept in very regular contact until his death about 1983 at New Orleans.  Nigel and I also remained in contact and he kept me posted on widely scattered friends of ours.  Al spent his last years in a nursing home in New Orleans -- from which he was removed to Ohio during Katrina.  Not too long ago, I was contacted by a writer who was seeking Al and, with Nigel's help, the connection was established.

In the Left in what's called the United States, things sometimes become theory-drenched.  I never picked that up from Al Maund or anything he wrote.  A Southern maverick, his blend of Vision and Principled Pragmatism was very much his own good mix.  Certainly cognizant of the importance of organized action, he was always able to maintain his independent mind and spirit.  As the late radical poet, John Beecher, himself a Southerner, once approvingly tagged another person, "He wears no man's collar."

Hunter [Hunter Bear]

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'
Check out our Hunterbear social justice website:  www.hunterbear.org
[The site is dedicated to our one-half Bobcat, Cloudy Gray:
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]  

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