Thursday, November 4, 2010
Writer and activist Bill Fletcher Jr. wants more people to ask "Why?"
"I think that one of the most important words in any language is the word why, and that few of us ask that question," he says.
The long-time activist for racial and global justice is the key speaker during the fifth annual Unity Conference co-hosted by the Mississippi Immigration Rights Alliance and Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Friday at Cabot Lodge Millsaps. Fletcher and other speakers including Isabel Garcia, Mike Sayer, and state Reps. Adrienne Wooten, Cecil Brown and Jim Evans, will discuss issues such as the state's civil-rights progress and the push for an Arizona-style immigration law during the 2011 legislative session.
Fletcher, 56, started working on labor issues in the late 1970s when he became a member of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America. He is the former vice president for the International Trade Union Development Programs for the George Meany Center of the AFL-CIO and co-author of several books, including "Solidarity Divided" and "A New Path Toward Social Justice."
Fletcher says his passion for justice stemmed from reading the autobiography of Malcolm X.
"When I read the autobiography of Malcolm X at 13, it changed my life. I became inspired, I came to believe that I had to do something," he says. "It wasn't enough to sit and to contemplate the world and to make criticisms, but I had to do something. That's why I was always planning; that's why all of us are."
The New York City native is a 1976 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science. He lives in Prince George's County, Md., with his wife, Candice, and his daughter, Yamin.
The fifth-annual SCLC-MIRA's Unity Conference runs Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 at Cabot Lodge Millsaps (2375 N. State St.). Registration includes meals and materials. $50, $25 youth and students; call 601-968-5182.
Great conference. Plan to read Solidarity Divided.
Missed his speech because I had sickness in the family. Ordered the book after the conference it hasn't come yet. Look forward to reading it though.