On September 16, the friends and family of the outstanding freedom fighter and human rights activist Vicki Garvin, gathered at what many call the People's Church (The House of the Lord ) in Brooklyn to celebrate her long and productive life.
The amazing Vicki would address her letters to my partner and I with: "Dear son & daughter, sister & brother-comrades." We were deeply honored to be be thought of in these ways.
Below is a statement prepared by the Black Workers for Justice in Vicki's honor.
In Memory of Vicki Garvin
To the family, friends and comrades of our beloved sister, we extend our warmest greetings and
expressions of love and solidarity. We regret not being able to join the freedom fighters who have gathered today to pay tribute to the inimitable Vicki Garvin, a giant in the movement for Black Liberation.
Vicki joined the ancestors as we are losing other important fighters from a generation that paved the way for our struggle and endured in their fight against white supremacy and capitalism. She leaves our ranks as we confront a vicious assault on our people which causes us to once again say that “ We Charge Genocide.” It is in the midst of this struggle that we reflect on her admirable life and contribution to our struggle.
You are familiar with the many exciting details of her life that reflect the many struggles and phases of our movement during the 20th Century. She was a militant trade unionist; a Pan-Africanist; an Internationalist; a fighter against white supremacy; and a Black revolutionary feminist. As we reflect on her life and work, and more importantly, bring the lessons to new brothers and sisters on the battlefield, these are things we must highlight and continue to draw lessons from.
We were honored that Sister Vicki reached out to us and affirmed our understanding of the Centrality of Black Workers in the struggle for Black Liberation. In 1996, in speaking of the National Negro Labor Council she said “Many years later, the Black Workers for Justice, centered in Rocky Mt. N.C., came on the scene, adopting many of our guiding principles. Under harsh conditions they are doing monumental work. The old-timers in NNLC consider them our successors.” This observation was not only a tremendous compliment but a perpetual challenge to us and our allies.
In 1995 Sister Vicki was the recipient of our Self-Determination Award at our annual Martin Luther King Support for Labor Banquet. She participated in meetings with our Women’s Commission becoming a mentor and friend to the sisters. The following year, in celebration of Women’s History Month, the Commission published, in pamphlet form, a speech she gave at the University of the District of Columbia in February of 1996.
She wrote to us in 1999, unable to attend our banquet and asked us to express to the audience these comments among others:
“I especially commend our women; traditionally the backbone of our families, historically bread winners for mutual survival( not bystanders), usually nurturing sound social values from infancy on; meaningful cooperation with our males as equal, respected leaders; practice of constructive criticism and self-criticism.
I believe all progressive freedom fighters should heed the concept of agitation, education and grassroots organization, avoid selfish individualism, competitive posturing, empty (or deceptive) oratory.
No quick fix for fundamental societal change! Long distance runners are a must! Dare to struggle, dare to win as we carry forward the glorious heritage of our heroic ancestors!”
We will long remember her fighting spirit, her sense of humor and the dignity, beauty and elegance of her presence. Her name and legacy must be lifted up alongside those of Ida B. Wells, Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer.
We will keep Sister Vicki’s legacy near and dear as we continue the fight against the Taft-Hartley Act; and as we help to build a Reconstruction movement in the Gulf Coast and a nationwide campaign against Genocide as reflected in police brutality, gentrification and the criminalization of our youth.
Sister, Mother, Comrade, Friend, Vicki Garvin:
September 14, 2007