Studs Terkel died a few days back, and I was unable to write about him at the time. Studs was an astonishing man – fearless and gentle, a fighter for the people, and unfraid of reporting, straightforwardly, what those people were like, no matter what that was. His style of oral history was driven, I thought, by a sense that people were smarter, and better, than anyone – including themselves – ever gave them credit for.
I met Studs only once – at a party/celebration dedicated to the martyrs of the Lincoln Brigades from the Spanish Revolution/Civil War – at the Hothouse Club in Chicago’s South Loop. I had no more than a moment to shake his hand and say thank you. He was already very elderly, but it was clear that he wanted to sit down with every person he made eye contact with, and a tape recorder, and tell their story.
His moral compass seemed always to run true, and when the United States was patting itself on the back for having once fought a ‘decent war,’ in World War II, Studs himself (who had served in the Army Air Force during that war) wrote a book which directly undermined the myth-making that was underway.
Here’s a link to 3 stories about the Angola 3, about which I’ve blogged once previously, that Studs would not have been afraid to tell. NPR is starting to tell it, decades too late. Goodbye Studs. You will be remembered in this month of memory. [see also Danny Fisher’s tribute].
Below, find the 9-minute tribute video to Studs from Democracy Now!
Vodpod videos no longer available.