1961 — People's World newspaper fund-raiser with Pete Seeger and Malvina Reynolds

In 1961, the People's World was a weekly newspaper published in San Francisco.  It was the unofficial voice of the Communist Party in California.  Circulation was about 5000 or so, mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The paper was able to maintain some independence from the national Party headquarters by its frequent fund-raising activities.  Subscriptions were sold, there was an annual sale of donated food, books and other items, held at the papers offices on Clementina Street in San Francisco.  

 

On occasion, concerts were held which raised larger amounts of money.  Singer Paul Robeson was featured at at least one concert I attended as a child in the 1950s.  In 1961, a concert was held at which Pete Seeger, a New York-based banjo player and folksinger and Malvina Reynolds, a Berkeley folksinger and song-writer, both performed.  Local "progressive" (meaning Communist Party members and supporters) notables shared the stage with Pete and Malvina, and joined in the singing. 

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Communist Party members rarely identified themselves as such publicly, and were frequently targets for persecution by Congressional committees, and faced loss of employment  and legal prosecution when outed.  Gatherings like this one provided some of the few opportunities for members and supporters to gather together as a group and share a common, humanistic culture that had a distinct, all- embracing world view.

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Pete Seeger was a unique, magnetic and upbeat performer and social activist.  He passed away in 2014 at 94.

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Pete Seeger and Malvina Reynolds were both prolific and successful song-writers.  He wrote "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," and "If I Had a Hammer."  She composed "Little Boxes" (Made of Ticky-Tacky) and "What Have They Done to the Rain?"  Many mainstream artists recorded their songs.

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Members of the appreciative audience, including People's World reporter, Carl Bloice, center.

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Speaker Mike Tigar, UC Berkeley Boalt Hall law student, who became a well-known criminal defense attorney and noted Law Professor.

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Speaker Harry Bridges, Australian-born, highly influential founder and forty-year leader of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU).