This oil painting of me was done in the very early Springtime of my emerging career as a radical agitator/organizer. It was done by the late Frank Dolphin, a gifted artist and old family friend; and the painting, originally given by Frank to my parents in the event I wound up being killed -- and consequently theirs for decades -- now hangs in my own home.
Frank had been a successful left-wing union organizer in many tough situations in the Far West. During World War II, he served in the RCAF as a First Lt. in the New Hebrides section of the South Pacific. He was also a cowpuncher -- in the Teton Basin and then in Northern Arizona. After being thrown from a horse and suffering a serious back injury, Frank became an art student of my father at Arizona State College (Flagstaff) and an extremely successful artist.
He was always a radical and was a very important mentor for me. I still remember his lessons on radical economic views (Veblen's among others) and radical unionism given me around hunting campfires -- especially an all-night one in the upper Verde Valley with the lights of the old copper camp of Wobbly legendry, Jerome, flickering on Mingus Mountain just off and up to the southwest. Frank died in early 1973, at Dolan Springs, Arizona -- a wide spot in a road just off the highway to Nevada.
I've been an organizer all of my life and I always will be one -- and you have to be tough, damn tough, to be a really effective organizer. Here, quoted by Attorney David Kopel [formerly an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and an active civil libertarian] in his essay, "Trust the People," is a part of the critically important legacy given by Frank Dolphin to me.
"In the 1950s and 1960s, a new civil rights movement began in the South. White supremacist tactics were just as violent as they had been during Reconstruction. Blacks and civil rights workers armed for self-defense.
John Salter, a professor at Tougaloo College and chief organizer of the N.A.A.C.P.'s Jackson Movement during the early 1960s, wrote, "No one knows what kind of massive racist retaliation would have been directed against grass-roots black people had the black community not had a healthy measure of firearms within it."
Salter personally had to defend his home and family several times against attacks by night riders. After Salter fired back, the night riders fled.
The unburned Ku Klux Klan cross in the Smithsonian Institution was donated by a civil rights worker whose shotgun blast drove Klansmen away from her driveway.
State or federal assistance sometimes came not when disorder began but when blacks reacted by arming themselves. In North Carolina, Governor Terry Sanford refused to command state police to protect a civil rights march from Klan attacks. When Salter warned Governor Sanford that if there were no police, the marchers would be armed for self-defense, the Governor provided police protection."
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