So when Leroy Barr connected the UFT stance on the Vietnam War to the Black Lives Matters issue I said WTF. (You can see me on NY1 commenting in an interview with Lindsey Christ -
There has been some blow back directed at the UFT leadership and Leroy Barr for their opposition to the MORE resolution on Black Lives Matter at the January Delegate Assembly when he termed the movement as divisive. I watched Leroy's speech from the 19th floor and sort of felt for him - a black man, the son of a cop and a teacher, who made a fantastic speech at the 2016 AFT convention - trying to navigate some difficult terrain. This time not such a great speech, especially when he raised the UFT non-position on the Vietnam War because it was so divisive as a comparison to wise UFT policy.
Having recently seen the Ken Burns series which did show how divisive the war was but also showed what a disaster it was an how the government lied again and again. Since I began teaching in 1967 pretty much as an unwoke person who bought much of the bullshit I was subjected to, I can get the point - to some extent. But when I became woke over the next 3 years I began to understand that the neutrality of the UFT over the divisiveness issue was a red herring to cover UFT leader Al Shanker's outright support for the war and his leading us to back all US warhawk actions. If shanker could have gotten away with it in a very liberal union he would have had us support the war.
I remember challenging Shanker directly at a DA 5 years later over his support for neo-con Henry Jackson for the 1976 presidency, pointing out that a year after the massive budget cuts - undoubtedly connected to the toll of the war - and that we couldn't have guns and butter and Shanker's leading our union to not oppose the massive military expenditures was choosing guns over butter and harming our schools, our union and our working conditions. (Note- we were working under a reduced school schedule, the loss of 2 out of 5 preps a week and 15,000 cuts.)
I recalled those days as Leroy spoke and thought that one of the jobs of a union is to help educate its members, which happened to me due to the people on the left who educated me. We shouldn't wake up in spite of the union.
The same applies to the Black Lives Matter movement, which I will address in Part 2.