Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Haven Firebirds Struggle is for Everyone

[Photo Above: Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of African American Studies at the University of Houston - Click of photo for full screen.]

The continued need for affirmative action to achieve fairness and equality for everyone won support last weekend at African American History Month events in Hartford and New Haven addressed by Dr. Gerald Horne and the New Haven Firebirds.

The "Working Together for Justice" events hosted by the People's World drew large multi-racial turnouts. The New Haven overflow event also highlighted the writing and artwork of high school students about racism and stereotyping in their schools, and music and poetry for Haiti by Baub Bidon, Ras Mo Moses, Jeff Fuller and Richard Hill.

[Photo Above: Gary Tinney, President of the New Haven Firebirds]

In appreciation of the Firebirds, Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of African American studies at University of Houston said, "In fighting against tests not related to the job at hand, these heroic New Haven firefighters were simultaneously fighting for a better world, where workers would not be subjected to subjective, unfair and ultimately discriminatory criteria for evaluation."

He called the battle to protect and extend affirmative action "one of the most profound and important struggles of our time.... to attack the poison that is racism and sexism, which is critical if the class struggle is to be accelerated."

Firebirds president Gary Tinney, who was at the U.S. Supreme Court for the case of 6,000 African American Chicago firefighters, said the media ignored that case while giving national headlines to 19 white firefighters from New Haven whose case was used unsuccessfully to strike down affirmative action and block Sonia Sotomayor from appointment to the Court.

Ron Benson, Firebirds president in the 1990's recounted previous court cases which struck down discriminatory practices. George Sweeney, the first African American firefighter in New Haven, hired in 1957, was deeply moved and recalled his first day when no one would acknowledge his presence.

The 36th annual celebration was a fundraiser to support the new daily on-line and Connecticut mini print editions. Contributions can be sent to: People's World, 37 Howe Street, New Haven, CT 06511.

SOON TO BE POSTED: Full speech by Dr. Gerald Horne, winning essay, poetry and drawings, more photos.

Other photos:
Photo: Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of African American Studies at the University of Houston, speaking to the crowd at the New Haven People's Center.

Photo: New Haven People's Center Black History Month Event.

Photo: The crowd gathering at the Hartford Black History Month Event.

Photo: Dr. Gerald Horne listening to the music of the youngest members of the crowd at the Hartford Black History Month event.

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