[Marxism] On Ed Shaw

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jan 12 19:26:49 MST 2014

I remember meeting with Ed in 1967 when I was applying to join the SWP. 
He was about my dad's age and dressed like him, with a short-sleeved 
white shirt with slits in the sleeves. He had a tattoo on his arm from 
the merchant marine days. Somehow the subject of the JFK assassination 
came up. He said that when he got off the subway in Washington Heights, 
he saw police cars all around his building. They were interested in 
questioning him since he had been a leader of the Fair Play for Cuba 
Committee. The next day Farrell Dobbs sent a condolence letter to Jackie 
Kennedy that got James Robertson and Tim Wolforth nuts. For them, this 
was like voting for war credits in 1914.

Here's a bit from the Wikipedia article on Ed. Fascinating stuff:

Edward "Ed" Shaw (1923 – 1995) was an American socialist and lifelong 
member of the Socialist Workers Party.

Born in Zion, Illinois, on July 13, 1923, Shaw grew up in a family of 
working farmers. In his youth, he rebelled against the fundamentalist 
religious assumptions that surrounded him in Zion. After high school, at 
the outbreak of World War II, he entered the Illinois Institute of 
Technology in Chicago. Shaw moved to New York City in 1942. There, while 
still in his late teens, he entered the military-run Maritime Service 
training school at Sheepshead Bay, where he got his papers as a 
fireman/watertender in the merchant marine.

On his way to start a job on a boat on the Great Lakes in 1943, Shaw 
found himself helping a Black worker escape a racist lynch mob during a 
race riot in Detroit - an act that ended up marking the rest of his 
life. From that moment on, he identified with, and later became an 
active participant in, the struggle for Black rights. During World War 
II, Shaw sailed mostly on what were called "liberty ships." While in 
Murmansk, in the Arctic region of the Soviet Union in 1943, on a ship 
carrying arms and supplies, Shaw got his interest piqued in socialism.

A few months later, on a ship in a Philadelphia harbor loading cargo for 
the USSR, Shaw met a seaman who had gotten to know a member of the 
Socialist Workers Party on another trip. This seaman told Shaw that 18 
leaders of the SWP and the Minneapolis Teamsters had been imprisoned on 
charges of "conspiring to advocate the overthrow of the U.S. 
government," because of their opposition to World War II. Their 
convictions had been the first under the notorious Smith Act. As a 
result, Shaw joined the Socialist Workers Party in October 1944 and 
later served in the Army during the Korean War.

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