Memorial meetings were held on November 11 in Oakland, California, and on November 18 in New York City to celebrate the life of revolutionary socialist and union activist Caroline Lund. She died on October 14 from ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.
The meetings paid tribute to Lund's lifelong commitment to the fight for socialism and in defence of workers' interests. But they also served as reunions of former colleagues and her partner of 40 years, Barry Sheppard, when they were leaders of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the 1960s and 1970s, before the party degenerated into a sect.
Malik Miah, a long-time collaborator of Lund and Sheppard, and I were the two initial speakers at the Oakland meeting, after which speakers from the floor rose to give their own memories of Lund and her contribution to the socialist movement. These included:
•Peter Camejo, a longtime associate of Lund and Sheppard, who had just run as the Greens candidate for governor in California and had previously run as the Greens vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader.
•Bruce Allen, militant auto-workers activist and vice-president of his union in St Catherines, Canada. He spoke of his respect for Lund and her work as a militant union activist in the GM-Toyota NUMMI auto plant where she produced the rank-an-file Barking Dog newsletter.
•Jon Britton, a former leader of the SWP who brought greetings and condolences from the Party of Socialism and Liberation.
•Todd Chretian, who spoke on behalf of the US International Socialist Organisation.
•Carol Lippman-Reed, a former leader of the SWP and the movement against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s.
•Erwin Bauer, a founding member of the SWP, who had left the party with the group around Bert Cochran in 1954.
•Jeff Mackler, national secretary of Socialist Action, which groups together some of the members expelled from the SWP in the early 1980s.
•Alice Sunshine, a prominent member of the Committees of Correspondence, which broke away from the Communist Party USA in the early 1990s.
The New York memorial meeting was attended by 45 of Lund's comrades, friends and family. I was the first speaker, describing her's political contributions to both the US and the international socialist movement, including the movement in Australia. She was a strong supporter of Green Left Weekly and the Democratic Socialist Party, and a contributing editor of Links magazine.
Kipp Dawson, a prominent leader of the huge mobilisations against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s, spoke next. She took part in the SWP's "turn to industry" and was a coalminer for 13 years. She paid tribute to Lund and her generation of young people who became leaders of the SWP and its youth organization, the Young Socialist Alliance.
Lund's sister, Catherine Vickary, spoke next, giving an emotional insight into her sister's character and her early years.
[John Percy is the national president of the Democratic Socialist Perspective, formerly the Democratic Socialist Party.]