All posts by tedglick

Day Sixteen

This is the halfway point of the fast. Sixteen days and nights from now I’ll begin drinking vegetable and fruit juices and a day or two later start eating, slowly adding more digestible foods over roughly a two-week period. Election day evening, November 3, is when that will begin.

It’s a definite positive to have reached this milestone.

Jane and I took a trip to the Sandy Hook National Park on the Atlantic coast today, and it was just what I needed. The ocean waves, the wind, the sun, the rocks and shells, the seagulls and other birds, a beautiful horseshoe crab shell, people fishing, people enjoying the day just like we were—it gave my spirit a welcome lift. And although I needed to stop to sit a couple of times to rest from walking, overall I felt pretty good, considering.

I stepped on the scales this morning, and I’ve now lost 23 pounds. I lost about 18 the first ten days and five over the last five, a definite slowdown. Right now it’s looking like I’ll lose between 30 and 35.

I’m starting to get more press coverage. I know of four news stories, columns where I’m featured, or interviews happening or coming out this week. I continue to reach out to do what I can to spread the word, to alert others to this action and the reasons for it, to help increase the much-needed turnout of those not sucked into dystopian and disastrous Trump world.

My Race to Freedom, a book review

“[She led a campaign] demanding that the National Student Association pay reparations to an affiliated student group, the National Association of Black Students. Although this and other accounts from those ‘Black Power’ years are informative, even riveting, in the end the central story line is Gwen herself through the life she exercises with dedication, principle, and an unbending devotion to justice, equality, and the well-being of all people.”
      -Bob Moses, Forward to My Race for Freedom

Gwendolyn Patton was a long-distance runner for the freedom of Black people and all people in the US and around the world. In the last years of her life she wrote an autobiography, My Race to Freedom: A Life in the Civil Rights Movement, that has just been published three years after her death in 2017.

I was a good friend and movement brother in the struggle for justice with Gwen. We met at a national conference in Washington, D.C. in February, 1984 that founded the National Committee for Independent Political Action. NCIPA’s main work that year was to support the Rainbow Coalition campaign of Rev. Jesse Jackson for President. Gwen became a leader of NCIPA, and for years we worked together.

One of my strongest memories of Gwen is her being at the first of 10 annual, week-long, summer Leadership Institutes of the Future Leaders Network, a project of NCIPA and New African Voices Alliance. Over the course of its life, we brought together a multi-racial mix of hundreds of teenagers to these progressive leadership training gatherings.

Gwen arrived a few days after the first one started, and it had been a rough start. We adult counselors had our hands full with some very spirited young people who had their own ideas about what should happen at the camp, not all of them positive. But the evening she arrived, Matt Jones, a former member of the SNCC Freedom Singers, was there to sing freedom songs from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. As he began he brought Gwen up to sing with him, and the young people were mesmerized as Matt and Gwen told their stories of life in and sang songs from that movement. Everything turned around, and the rest of the camp was all we had wanted it to be.

This is just one of many stories that could be told about Gwen and her importance to so many people.

My Race to Freedom tells the story of Gwen’s early life in Detroit where her parents had moved from Montgomery, Alabama in 1941 as part of the “great migration” of Black people to the north. As she grew up, she spent summers in Montgomery with her extended family. Her father took a job working in a Ford factory where he became a union leader.

Gwen had a good example to learn from about organizing. “My first introduction to organizing was listening to him talk about the interplay between the workers and the bosses. I remember one riveting incident when the assembly line workers staged a slow-down after an unpopular foreman, a Pole, moved to fire a man.” Through group action, the workers had him “moved to another section of the plant.”

The bulk of the book gives many details that were of real value to me as someone who was not active in the civil rights movement but who has learned a lot about it. One particular focus of Gwen’s story is Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and what went on there as the civil rights movement of the 50s led to the emergence of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC in 1960. As the movement heated up in the South, Gwen was right there in Alabama, having moved back in 1960, doing her part as a student activist and then student body president at Tuskegee Institute to successfully move the students into active participation in that movement.

Of particular interest is Gwen’s analysis of the class differences within the Black community and how she worked to both build united, principled unity in action against Jim Crow segregation and racism among all classes, while also working to build the leadership of Black working-class people within the movement.

In 1967 Gwen moved to New York City. For the next twelve years she lived in the northeast in either NYC or Washington, DC., while also traveling throughout the country as a speaker, especially on college campuses. She worked for the National Welfare Rights Organization, the Student Mobilization Committee Against the War, Union 1199 and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. She became a teacher, first teaching at the School for Contemporary Studies in Brooklyn. She was a founder and, for several years, leader of the National Black Anti-War Anti-Draft Union.

Her time up north led to her involvement with the white Left, which she did not find to be the easiest thing to do. Her analysis of her experiences with different socialist and Left groups is instructive. She ultimately ended up joining the US Communist Party despite having reservations about it.

In 1978 she decided she should return to her roots and moved back to Montgomery, Alabama. She “kept food on the table with various teaching and administrative positions at Tuskegee, Alabama State University, and Trenholm State Technical College.” She continued her progressive organizing with a number of different organizations until her death in 2017.

Thanks is due to Randall Williams, who made sure to finish the editing of Gwen’s manuscript, and NewSouth Books. My Race to Freedom is now available for the world to read and learn from. It’s well worth doing so if you’re in the progressive movement and intend to be in it for years to come.

Ted Glick is currently on a month-long, water-only Fast to Defeat Trump until November 3. He is the author of the recently-published “Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War.” More information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

Day Fifteen

I’m just about halfway there; 36 hours from when I’m writing, on Sunday evening, that’ll be it. I’m glad I’ve made it to this point. But it is getting harder. There’s still the persistent weakness and lack of energy to do much more than work on the computer and some cooking for Jane and a few neighbors and friends. In addition, for the last couple of nights, I’ve had difficulty getting to sleep because of discomfort, not really pain, in my left leg. Last night it took a couple of hours from when I tried to go to sleep until I did. It took a massage from Jane, putting peanut oil up and down my leg, and getting up and watching an old NY Knicks basketball game on TV for 45 minutes. When I went upstairs after that, I went out fast and had five hours of deep sleep before waking and then getting up. I’ll probably need a nap sometime today.

I’m also very aware of my demeanor and what I’m like, and I don’t really like it. It’s not easy for Jane for me to be like this. I’m trying hard to be polite and respectful, but I’m essentially not-a-happy-camper. This is hard. I guess I’m getting used to this new routine, but the routine includes the weakness and the usual sour mood (there are exceptions). One good health report, however, is that my daily blood pressure tests continue to be right around the desired 120/80 mark; this morning’s was 123/85.

It’s not helpful that Trump is back to traveling the country, raving and ranting and holding super-spreader rallies. Fortunately, when you average the major polls, there’s no indication that it’s having much of an effect. As of right now, realclearpolitics.com has Biden up by 9 points nationally and an average of 4 ½ points in the battleground states.

It is very good news that news reports say that 20 million people have already voted in early voting states. Given the fact that Trump has never been above 45% approval since becoming President or in the Presidential polls, and since he’s at 42% now, and given the very strong feelings against Trump of almost half the population, the likelihood is high that the larger the voter turnout the higher the vote for Biden and other non-Republicans.

As hard as this fast may get during the last half of it, the thought of Trump being re-elected keeps me going. We all need to be doing all we can to mobilize a massive vote of repudiation of everything he stands for.

Day Fourteen

Two big deals from last evening: the many things exposed about Trump by Savannah Guthrie’s way-to-go-girl questioning of him on NBC, and Republican Senator Ben Sasse speaking the truth about who and what Trump really is. Both, together, could end up being additional nails in Trump and the Trumpublicans’ coffin on election day. So far, with 18 days to go, this has been a politically brutal last two and a half weeks for them, since the first disastrous debate on September 29.

I’m reminded of a wonderful song sung by Pete Seeger: God Bless the Grass: “God bless the grass that grows through the crack. They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back. The concrete gets tired of what it has to do, It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru, And God bless the grass.——God bless the truth that fights toward the sun, They roll the lies over it and think that it is done It moves through the ground and reaches for the air, And after a while it is growing everywhere, And God bless the grass.”

I was interviewed about this fast a couple of days ago by Josh Fox for his show on the The Young Turks network, and at one point he asked me if I thought that, if Trump is defeated, we could really bring about significant change under Biden. I said yes, because Biden is not even close to being like Trump, and because of the strength of the progressive Left, as reflected in the Sanders and Warren campaigns, the incredible breadth and power of the Black Lives Matter upsurge after George Floyd’s murder, and other examples.

That’s why I am fasting, because I can see a new day coming for this country and this world, I really can, despite all the lies and “concrete” we have been contending with the last four years. The truth is coming out, and the people are rising, as shown by the massive turnout of voters in early voting around the country.

But it’s not time to coast; it’s time to keep pushing to get even more people to come out and vote. Everything hinges on a massive voter turnout.

Healthwise, I’m doing OK. I’m pretty stable, with today’s blood pressure reading again being just fine. I wouldn’t say I’m feeling good; I’m not. Every day feels like another day to grit my teeth and slog through towards that time, two and half weeks from now, when I can begin consuming something that actually has taste to it and that gives me energy. If I let myself, I can really long for that day, that time, which will be the evening of election day after the polls have closed. Until then I plan to hold on and keep the faith, growing through that concrete as high as I can.

Day Thirteen

I’m glad to write that my daily blood pressure readings continue to be very good. My fourth one this morning was 122/75, with 120/80 being the desired reading. Definitely good news.

My weight loss is slowing down, and that’s also good news. For the last two days I’ve lost about half a pound/day, which is what I’ve been expecting would happen, before now actually. If that continues to be the case over the next 18 days, that will mean I’ll lose about 30 pounds.

I am definitely looking different, in my face and the rest of my body. When I was taking a shower this morning I really noticed it as I was moving the soap bar over my legs and arms. Right now, the fuel source to keep me going, from experience and what I’ve read, is the muscles in my extremities, my legs and arms, so it makes sense that they’d be shrinking.

I know from experience that when I start eating again, those muscles will come back, over time. I look forward to that process, through healthy eating and a steadily-increasing exercise routine.

I was interviewed by Josh Fox for a half hour yesterday evening on his “Staying Home With Josh Fox” show, which will be aired on The Young Turks network in about a week. I appreciated and enjoyed the discussion with Josh. I continue to work to find ways to spread the word about this action.

Yesterday Jane and I took a short trip to the Palisades Interstate Park along the Hudson River. While sitting by the Hudson enjoying the quiet and the sun and clean air, a monarch butterfly flew past us going south. Given that Jane and I are big monarch raisers each summer (we raised and released 134 this summer), it was really nice to see this. And then just today I received an email reporting that there are a number of sightings further south of lots of monarchs being seen as they proceed to their winter home in Michoacan, Mexico. Two good things to keep my spirits up.

Tonight is no-debate night because Trump wouldn’t agree to a virtual one. This is Trump’s loss, a self-inflicted wound at a time when he is in desperate need of something to change the dynamics of the campaign which are not looking good for him or the Trumpublican Party. We can have a big win on November 3, which the world desperately needs, if we all do what we can to mobilize a massive voter turnout!

Day Twelve

Day Twelve

I was pleased to see a very good story in my county’s local Patch.com about the fast. I continue to work at outreach to various media outlets, with some developing interest. I’m hoping that as the days go by and the fast continues, there will be more stories that spread the word and, most importantly, therefore help drive the massive voter turnout so clearly needed.

I’ve now lost 19 pounds since this started, about 10 the first few days and 9 since. I expect I’ll lose 30-35 by the time I begin drinking fruit and vegetable juices and then food, progressively phased in with the foods most easily digestible first (fruits and vegetables) leading up to sweets, coffee and oils last. I’ve begun to think of what I’ll drink first, probably a homemade vegetable soup.

My weakness abated a bit yesterday, for reasons unknown. Maybe it’s because I have regularized a reduced daily work routine, with more time resting. There are a couple of other new things physically, though. One is a tendency towards dry, cotton mouth and a less strong voice. When that happens and I drink a glass of water, it does help, temporarily. The other was the need last night to put a pillow between my legs in bed after having difficulty with them feeling OK without it when lying on my side. The pillow did work.

Today Jane and I are taking a few hours to drive to Palisades Interstate Park along the Hudson River. The leaves are supposed to be at peak color. I’m looking forward to that.

Day Eleven

Day Eleven

I sent out a press release yesterday. In it I said, “Following the indictments of 13 far-right, Trump-supporting extremists for plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, instead of decrying the plot, Donald Trump criticized Whitmer, andnot the extremists.  At the same time, while trailing in the polls, Trump refuses to say he’ll accept a peaceful transition of power if he loses, continues to undermine mail-in voting, and repeats his call for his supporters to descend on polling places on November 3.

‘Trump is clearly appealing to extremists to disrupt this election,” Glick said. ‘It is time to recognize the grave threat he represents to everything progressives stand for. The most effective way to counter the threat is to muster the largest voter turnout in history, led by people of color, young people, women and working-class people.’”

I received an email from a good friend of mine this morning, Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network where I worked for 10 years. He said that he’s working 15 hours a week to mobilize voters in the battleground states for Biden, using a Biden campaign app that he said was very easy to use and effective. You can check it out here.

Two personal highlights from yesterday: I made a second, in three days, batch of uniquely-mine cole slaw, using about 10 different ingredients besides the basic cabbage and mayonnaise: apples, pickles, black and pimento olives, raisins, walnuts, cauliflower, zucchini, dried tomatoes and chutney. When I gave a little to Jane to see how it tasted, she said “very good” as she wolfed it down, which was nice to see. We gave some of it this morning to a neighbor whose husband and mother are in the hospital.

And I saw a doctor. We had a good discussion about fasting. She wanted me to come off it, but she wasn’t pushy. Checking my vitals she said all was good. She encouraged me to check my blood pressure daily, which I’m doing with a blood pressure monitor we bought for $30 from a local drugstore. I’m pleased to report that both yesterday and today it was almost exactly the 120/80 which a google search indicates is very good for a person my age.

What are you doing today to swell the voter turnout in battleground states?

Day Ten

Day Ten

Today is Indigenous Peoples Day. 28 years ago on this date was the 42nd and last day of a long, water-only fast in Washington, DC that I did with about 15 other people. It was initiated by Brian Willson, Karen Fogliatti and Scott Rutherford and was called the People’s Fast for Justice and Peace in the Americas. It was one of many acts of resistance in 1992 to the planned government celebrations of Christopher Columbus being found, lost, in the Caribbean by people who had been living in this part of the world for thousands of years. We all took action that year to say that the next 500 years are going to be very different than the 500 years since Columbus initiated racism, genocide and ecological devastation in the Americas.

I’m going to think about all of this throughout the day.

I just made an appointment with my doctor for this afternoon. I had wanted it to be for the end of the week, about the halfway point of the fast, but this was all she had for this week. I’m not seeing her because I’m feeling sick or have a problem; this is precautionary and, frankly, in response to the urgings of others. But I will be glad to see her and find out how she sees my body handling this very different time.

My relationship to food on this fast, in part because I’m doing it at home, is not what most people would expect. Although I’m not eating, that doesn’t prevent me from smelling foods with a pleasing smell, which I do quite often. More than that, I have found myself making soups, salads and main dishes for wife Jane, and enjoying the experience. I enjoy working with the food, I enjoy making something that tastes good (according to Jane) and I am glad to be doing more than my usual share of cooking to give Jane more time to do other things. It feels very right.

I almost never feel a strong urge to cheat and eat. My mind is very locked in, and has been for nine months, on my belief that this is the right action at the right time for me to be doing. I guess it’s a form of mind over matter, belief over usual human nature.

I feel at peace knowing I am doing everything I can in this last month before the election to defeat the worst and most dangerous President ever, literally a threat to the entire world.

Fasting in the 20th/21st Centuries, and Right Now

Fasting every day on water only, as I’ve done since October 3, has led me to research other political fasts, or hunger strikes. There’ve actually been a lot of them.

Mohandus Gandhi is the most well-known person to have fasted. He engaged in 17 of them, the longest for 21 days, between 1913 and 1948. Two were in South Africa; the rest were in India.

Cesar Chavez is the most well-known of those who have engaged in political fasts in the USA. He fasted three times, the longest for 36 days. His most famous fast was for 25 days in 1968 directed in part towards members of the United Farmworkers Union to urge them to remain nonviolent in their multi-year campaign for union recognition from California large growers.

The most dramatic hunger strike was by Irish freedom fighter Bobby Sands and a number of others inside British-run prisons in Northern Ireland in 1981. He and nine others died as a result of this action, for Sands after 66 days consuming only water and salt.

During the Vietnam War African American comedian and anti-war activist Dick Gregory fasted for 40 days on water only in 1967, and he did a very long fast from solid foods, consuming a variety of liquids, for two years. According to an article by Vinay Lal in 2017, “Across the decades, he went on dozens of hunger strikes, over issues including the Vietnam War, the failed Equal Rights Amendment, police brutality, South African apartheid, nuclear power, prison reform, drug abuse and American Indian rights.”

Hunger strikes were a part of the fight to gain the vote for women 100 years ago. The more radical wing of that movement led by Alice Paul went on hunger strikes inside prison for weeks, ultimately being force fed, after arrests outside the White House. As described in the movie, Iron Jawed Angels, those hunger strikes played a major role in finally getting Woodrow Wilson to come out in support of women’s suffrage.

And just this summer, four people in Louisville, Kentucky fasted, two for 25 days, as described in the Louisville Courier: “After going nearly one month without food, the remaining hunger strikers seeking action against the Louisville Metro Police officers who fired their weapons the night Breonna Taylor was killed have ended their protest.”

I was strengthened on my fast to learn about this one in Louisville, for obvious reasons. Others taking similar action on a related issue was great to see. But it’s also significant because I hope that, if Biden/Harris win and especially if the Senate also flips, the tactic of fasting/hunger strikes will become more widespread within the activist, progressive movement. It’s one tactic, similar to nonviolent direct action, that underlines the urgency of an issue and brings added political pressure when there’s a specific target of the fast. I appreciate that fasting is not for everyone, but I have no doubt that during a Biden/Harris administration, more of us will need to use this tactic to get the legislation we need on many different issues.

In the meantime, nine days into this month-long fast, I urge all of us to do everything we can, every day, to generate the massive voter turnout, especially in the battleground states, that is the best defense against Trumpublican efforts to use outrageous tactics to maintain Trump and his accomplices in power.

(If you want to check out how my fast is going, I’m posting each day at https://tedglick.com/fasting-to-defeat-trump/.)  

Ted Glick is the author of the just published Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

Day Nine, Some History

Fasting every day on water only, as I’ve done since October 3, has led me to research other political fasts, or hunger strikes. There’ve actually been a lot of them.

Mohandus Gandhi is the most well-known person to have fasted. He engaged in 17 of them, the longest for 21 days, between 1913 and 1948. Two were in South Africa; the rest were in India.

Cesar Chavez is the most well-known of those who have engaged in political fasts in the USA. He fasted three times, the longest for 36 days. His most famous fast was for 25 days in 1968 directed in part towards members of the United Farmworkers Union to urge them to remain nonviolent in their multi-year campaign for union recognition from California large growers.

The most dramatic hunger strike was by Irish freedom fighter Bobby Sands and a number of others inside British-run prisons in Northern Ireland in 1981. He and nine others died as a result of this action, for Sands after 66 days consuming only water and salt.

During the Vietnam War African American comedian and anti-war activist Dick Gregory fasted for 40 days on water only in 1967, and he did a very long fast from solid foods, consuming a variety of liquids, for two years. According to an article by Vinay Lal in 2017, “Across the decades, he went on dozens of hunger strikes, over issues including the Vietnam War, the failed Equal Rights Amendment, police brutality, South African apartheid, nuclear power, prison reform, drug abuse and American Indian rights.”

Hunger strikes were a part of the fight to gain the vote for women 100 years ago. The more radical wing of that movement led by Alice Paul went on hunger strikes inside prison for weeks, ultimately being force fed, after arrests outside the White House. As described in the movie, Iron Jawed Angels, those hunger strikes played a major role in finally getting Woodrow Wilson to come out in support of women’s suffrage.

And just this summer, four people in Louisville, Kentucky fasted, two for 25 days, as described in the Louisville Courier: “After going nearly one month without food, the remaining hunger strikers seeking action against the Louisville Metro Police officers who fired their weapons the night Breonna Taylor was killed have ended their protest.”

I was strengthened on my fast to learn about this one in Louisville, for obvious reasons. Others taking similar action on a related issue was great to see. But it’s also significant because I hope that, if Biden/Harris win and especially if the Senate also flips, the tactic of fasting/hunger strikes will become more widespread within the activist, progressive movement. It’s one tactic, similar to nonviolent direct action, that underlines the urgency of an issue and brings added political pressure when there’s a specific target of the fast. I appreciate that fasting is not for everyone, but I have no doubt that during a Biden/Harris administration, more of us will need to use this tactic to get the legislation we need on many different issues.

In the meantime, nine days into this month-long fast, I urge all of us to do everything we can, every day, to generate the massive voter turnout, especially in the battleground states, that is the best defense against Trumpublican efforts to use outrageous tactics to maintain Trump and his accomplices in power.