Friday, December 6, 2013


Sometime back in the early 80s, too long ago for me to remember the exact year, I was at an American Federation of Teachers convention pushing a resolution to endorse divestment from South Africa.  Along with my commie friends in United Action Caucus, I was beating my head against a brick wall named Albert Shanker, president of the AFT, neo-liberal, and first union president to be invited to sit in on the Business Roundtable

Our guest of honor that year was Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Zulu chieftain and collaborator with the apartheid government.   Buthelezi addressed us, speaking against divestment.  His argument was that the poverty level jobs of black South African would be put in peril.

Personally, I am proud to have been red-baited by Shanker when I took the floor to argue for divestment that year.  It took six years for the AFT to join in the call for divestment, and by that time, almost everybody else had gone first.

Extraordinarily, though, when Mandela became the leader of South Africa, he took Buthelezi  into his government.  He was a very forgiving, very political man.  He never managed to bring real equality to South Africa, but you can't say he didn't try.

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