General Baker: Revolutionary
By Sam Riddle
Special to the Michigan Citizen
There was no little red book for the American revolutionary who dared to organize and challenge multinational corporations and their company unions in the 1960s.
The book was written as the movement undertook actions to liberate and vest the worker with new found collective self-esteem borne of struggle and a fair share of respect, which greedy profiteers would hoard until the workforce was broken into submission to maximize profits.
When underpaid, under-respected workers organize independently of the company union and dare to strike on issues that factor race into the equation, fear drives the company and their company union status quo apologists to cut off the head of the malcontents.
How many times did the car companies and UAW decapitate General Baker, only to feel the might of organizational resurrection as the Revolutionary Union Movement inflicted itself on those who truly viewed American workers as chattel?
Using the ultimate power of the worker to shut down the production line made General Baker one of the most feared men in the history of corporate America as he fought against racist company and union practices.
I doubt the history books used in Detroit schools delve into the dynamic of the Dodge Revolutionary Movement (DRUM), FRUM or any other RUM let alone the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Children should not get wild ideas. The 1776 American Revolution is distant enough and safely tucked away.
I once simply stared at General Baker during a recent demonstration, wondering what ran through his mind as the Negro Emergency Manager proxy of the democracy-destroying union-busting Governor Snyder beat down Detroit workers. Today’s accommodating union leaders who fear direct action would not have been able to take a DRUM meeting that required they represent the workers not the company.
Before Ali refused to serve in the U.S. military, there was a man — ironically named General — who said no to an unjust war in 1965, the same year I entered military service. Baker’s letter to the draft board should be required reading in Detroit schools as he detailed American hypocrisy the world over.
We must keep the memory of General Baker alive through our organizational efforts that place a premium on direct action to ensure that, as a start, everyone can turn on a faucet and get water in Detroit.
We must never let haters cause us to lose hope or dislike ourselves and never let haters make you weak in your faith. Keep the faith. Stay on the battlefield.
Sam Riddle is political director for Michigan National Action Network. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sam.riddle or Twitter at twitter.com/samriddle.