Working-Class History· 3 February · On this day, 3 February 2006, Al Lewis, lifelong socialist and actor who portrayed Grandpa Munster in the popular TV show The Munsters died in New York aged 82.
Radicalized by his immigrant garment worker mother at a young age, he became a committed socialist by the time of the great depression.
When landlords evicted people, Lewis and his colleagues would break back into the properties and move the tenants’ furniture back in. And if unemployed workers were denied relief, Lewis would join others in storming relief centers and fight the police.
Despite living through the Reagan years of reaction, he kept his principles and remained realistic: “I’ve been in the struggle over 70 years. It doesn’t bother me I may not win. After doing X amount of time or years, don’t throw your hands up in the air because, you see, everybody wants ‘the win’. They want it today. It doesn’t happen. The struggle goes on. The victory is in the struggle, for me. And I accepted that a long time ago.”
It’s not easy to remain steadfast and calm, fluid and focused on your hopes for a society when those others, those of the elite and oligarchy receive applause and support. When the oppressed enable their oppressors. When the words that tumble so easily from a leader’s mouth have to be checked for truth. For reality.
When I was growing up I never thought the number of school children shot and killed, injured, maimed, would be a statistic in the United States. I never thought that children would be afraid to go to school in this country. It used to be only with people of color or the poorest of the poor where the struggle lived. Funny how equality is earned.
But then, I never thought I’d see our planet burning. Or our animals destroyed. I never thought that concentration camps would return, that women would still have to fight for equality.
America, where are you?