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Bill Fletcher: Keep Fighting Till the Lights Go Out

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Black Work Talk
Black Work Talk
Bill Fletcher: Keep Fighting Till the Lights Go Out

Black Work Talk comes full circle: This is the last episode of this iteration of Black Work Talk, and host Steven Pitts talks with Bill Fletcher Jr, who was the show’s first guest in November 2020. Their wide-ranging conversation started with some historical reflection on Black worker organizing and leadership, beginning with the National Negro Labor Council in the 1930s and then the National Negro American Labor Council, which did so much to build the 1963 March on Washington.

They reflected on neoliberalism in Black politics, and the dangers that emerge when people who get elected on a progressive message find themselves blocked or walk back their politics. “In the absence of pressure from the Left, a couple things can happen,” Fletcher said. “One is people become discouraged, and cynical, and say, ‘Hey, there’s no point in engagement, because all these guys are fools.’ Another thing that can happen is that people become open to right-wing alternatives.”

The conversation touched on internationalism, the expanding political role of Black immigrants, and the need for building organization and contesting for governing power. Asked at the end what advice he would offer from his vantage point as a movement veteran, Fletcher began by saying “Our determination to change the planet keeps us young, and when people give up on that you become old. That’s the framework that we all need to have. You’re fighting until the lights go out.”

Convergence editorial note: Much appreciation to Steven Pitts for this insightful and thought-provoking series that has offered so much to our movements’ understanding and our practice.

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