Category Archives: Future Hope

Water-Only for 22 Days to Defeat Trump

When I began my water-only Fast to Defeat Trump on October 3, I had some idea about how I was going to feel as it progressed. I have done long water-only fasts before, though the last time, on the issue of the climate crisis, was 13 years ago when I was 58 years old. On this one I’m 71. And though I’m a regular long-distance bicyclist and exercise guy, that’s getting up there in years, I know.

This one has been harder than the one in 2007. I remember during that one being pretty active as late as the 22nd or 23rd days. Not this time. I have been weak since day two, the primary symptom I’ve had all throughout. This morning I woke up after a good night’s sleep and found it difficult to get going, with the most weakness since I stopped eating.

But the most important thing about my hunger strike is not how I’m feeling but whether or not there is evidence that it is having its desired result. What is that? It’s the motivation of other people who might not otherwise to vote for the removal of Trump by voting for Biden, and to get involved in the organized efforts by a number of groups to turn out the majority of the American population that opposes Trump.

I have anecdotal evidence that some individuals are voting or doing phone calling or other voter turnout work that they might not be otherwise. But a better metric is the extent of media coverage, and I feel good on that front. I can count about a dozen progressive media sources that have run stories about or interviewed me.

A main angle of a number of those stories is the fact that in 2002 I was a Green Party candidate for the US Senate and that I was a local leader in northern NJ of a Green Party group from 2000 to 2018. Now I’m urging people to vote for Biden, after having been a Bernie Sanders supporter prior to Biden’s primary victory.

Why am I not just voting for Biden and urging others to do the same but fasting for a planned 32 days to underline why people should do so?

Like many other commentators, I consider this election to be one of it not the most consequential elections in decades. There’s the issue of democracy and if we’ll still have it if Trump is elected. There’s the issue of Trump’s open egging on and support of violent, white supremacist groups. There’s his total walking away from giving leadership in the fight against COVID-19. There’s his misogyny and ant-lgbt history. There’s his explicit policies of shoveling even more money and power to his fellow oligarchs and the rich. But the ultimate most important one for me is his overt denial of the climate emergency we are in and his repeated moves to prop up a faltering fossil fuel industry.

For 17 years the climate issue has been the main issue for me. My last paying job for 10 years before retiring in 2015 was as the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. I’ve continued to work close to full-time on this issue since retirement as an unpaid volunteer. I’ve been arrested about 10 times over that 17 year period for action of nonviolent civil disobedience on the climate issue.

Unlike every other issue, there is a definite time urgency to this one. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a consortium of thousands of scientists, said in a report two years ago that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” will take place if the world does not reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030. We are completely and totally behind the 8-ball on this one.

The way I see it, when the future of life on earth is very literally at stake with this election, it’s more than appropriate for actions that may seem extreme if those actions can have an impact. With every fiber of my being, I pray, and believe, that this action is doing that.

 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

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.

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.

Two Days of Action on Fracked Gas Exports

It’s always something between very exciting and very nerve-wracking to be a couple days out from a major action or, in this case, a couple of days of action, wondering how it’s going to go. I’m constantly thinking, whether I want to or not, of the things that could go wrong and what back-up systems do we have if they do.

But when it comes to the mass demonstration of thousands that will take place this Sunday in DC to Stop Fracked Gas Exports, and the cd action the next morning at FERC, the federal agency that is essentially a rubber stamp for whatever the gas industry wants, I’m confident that all of the months of work and organizing was worth it, however things end up.

For one thing, the work our coalition of 50 or so groups has done for this action has definitely put the issue of fracked gas exports out there as an issue that the Obama Administration can’t sweep under the rug. Between the press coverage we’ve already gotten and what will come, this action is having that impact.

It is also bringing together local, state, regional and national groups fighting fracking, fracking pipelines and compressor stations, fracked gas exports and climate change, and by doing so we are educating lots of people about the destructive and dangerous lifecycle impacts of fracking.

Finally this action will help to build the fighting spirit of lots of people for a world where wind, solar and other renewable energy sources are dominant. It will strengthen the movement for a world where justice is more than a word or something that is sometimes done, where, indeed, it is an organizing principle, along with love, of human society.

If you can get to the National Mall down by the US Capitol by 12:30 on Sunday, please do so! It’ll be hot, but you won’t regret being there to hear some great speakers and music and to march together to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC. It’ll be a spirited and colorful march with drumming, creative chants, great props and banners and a determination that will be palpable.

What do we want? Jobs! How do we want them? Wind and solar!

Hey Obama, hey FERC, Let renewables do the work!

For more info on the Sunday action go to http://stopgasexports.org.

For more info on the Monday morning cd at FERC go to https://sites.google.com/site/july14takeaction/