The 98 Year Old Activist

Posted by Bob Lord

I read this post by Thomas Hedges at Truthdig because I've had a concern that Labor is getting complacent at the top. The post is a quick read, and more or less does bear out my concern.

But what I learned was quite inspiring, at least for me. Hedges writes about Harry Kelber, who is challenging Richard Trumka for the Presidency of the AFL-CIO. Kelber believes Trumka has done precious little to advance the cause of union members. 

Kelber, you see, is doing this at the tender age of 98. He's been a union activist since the '30s. Here's why he's running:

The federation’s leaders have lost themselves in the glow of Washington, he contends. Obama “invites them for dinner at the White House and they love it,” Kelber notes. “That’s their reward.

“I’m 98 years old,” Kelber says. “I’m not the kind of leader that they’re looking for. But no one else is coming up. I’m raising questions that have never been raised before.”

Despite his age, Kelber writes three columns a week and speaks with undiminished clarity.

“There are times that you have to go into battle and know that you are going to lose,” he concludes. “But you have to lay a foundation down for the future.”

So, he's 98 and he's laying a foundation for the future. Not his future, of course, our future. Pretty inspiring, if you ask me. 

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