Muriel Rukeyser and the Freedom To Speak Your Mind

One of my heroes is Muriel Rukeyser. Muriel Rukeyser was a poet who was involved in many left wing causes from the 1930s to the 1970s. In spite of her championing of many left wing causes, Muriel was often criticized by leftists because Rukeyser was independent minded and wouldn’t follow any party line. Muriel Rukeyser was leftist, but she wasn’t doctrinaire, and her independence of thought is something I admire.

Muriel’s son William Rukeyser would write about his mother in the book How Shall We Tell Each Other of the Poet:

My mother invented her own career and she invented her life. She broke a lot of rules and she paid the price. In the thirties she didn’t fear to embrace the Communists- for what they believed, or at least what they said they believed. But she wasn’t timid about rejecting Communist dogma or thought control. For her pains she was vilified by both sides in many battles because she wouldn’t follow anybody’s party line except her own

Over the years I’ve gotten into some discussions about politics and sometimes the person I talk to gets mad at me and asks me what right do I have to talk. I usually reply “I’m an American. The Bill of Rights gives all Americans the right to express our opinions.” That’s the whole point of the Freedom of Speech, to protect the expression of diverse viewpoints. I don’t claim to know everything. We’re all fallible, even experts are frequently wrong. But our viewpoints are still valuable. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, radical or moderate, we all have a right to express our opinions without getting harassed. If we strongly believe in a particular cause, we have the freedom to lobby for that cause and to try to persuade people to support that cause. And if you disagree, you have the right to lobby for what you believe. I’ve never understood those people who think that the only ones allowed to express an opinion are those who agree with them. Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry was dedicated to insuring that the voices of all people are heard.

Here is a youtube video of Yusef Komunyakaa discussing the life and work of Muriel Rukeyser at the Bravery in Poetry event at PEN’s 2013 World Voices Festival

George Kalamaras, the Poet Laureate of Indiana, reads and discusses the work of poet Muriel Rukeyser


About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He does a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippines Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since March 2013, he has also contributed cartoons to the Manila Mail, a Filipino American newspaper based in Washington D.C. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s