Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Harold Williams

Tom Devine has a fascinating post up from the archives of the "Mitch Ogulewicz Chronicles." Mitch, who served on Springfield's city council in the 80"s, was a maverick if there ever was one; spoke truth to power no matter what the cost. I would probably disagree with his positions more than now than I did then, but I still admire him.

Tom mentioned how Mitch picked up a lot of support in the African-American community once Roger Williams got on board his campaign. I didn't know Roger well, and don't know where he is now-- passed away, perhaps?-- hope not-- but who I did know was his brother Harold.

While Roger made his contribution to our community through housing development, Harold worked at Monsanto and developed lung disease. He was a lifelong communist who never seemed permanently disillusioned about the potential for people to make a difference. He came to many of Arise's early meetings, huffing away, with the party newspaper under his arm. Of course, most of us at that time were current or recent welfare recipients, and we were way too disorganized intellectually either to refute or endorse his beliefs. We only knew we had an ally, someone who supported our struggle, and he remained an ally to the end of his life.

Until last month, right up until we closed the Arise office, we had a picture of Harold hanging on our wall. My friend Michael has it in safekeeping right now. Wish I could see it. Harold looked a bit like Ernest Borgnine. I tried to find a reference to Harold on Google, and found several Harold Williams who served on the Monsanto board,or were managers, and one Harold Williams who was some bigwig in the Communist Party, but those aren't my Harold. My Harold was a tireless foot soldier and friend. I don't want to forget him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember Harold Williams well, and was deeply saddened by his death. He died of cancer, at, I believe, the age of 64, killed no doubt by the occupational exposures to toxic chemicals at Montsanto which he worked so hard to change.

He dreamed of something beyond this capitalist system, a better way of organizing humanity. It is a dream that we still need, despite what happened in the Soviet Union. It is the vision of a genuinely just society, and it links all of us and all of our struggles together into a single stream with many currents.

Chris Horton
Worcester MA