August 10, 2020

Decades helping build SWP

Fred White, a longtime supporter of the Socialist Workers Party, died June 10 in Atlanta following a heart attack. He was 77 years old.

Fred was born into a working-class family in Connecticut and, like other young men in the early 1960s, ended up in the military. He was stationed at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay when U.S.-backed mercenaries invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. Workers and peasants in Cuba, led by Fidel Castro and the Revolutionary Armed Forces, defeated U.S. imperialism’s attempt to overthrow the revolution in just three days. Fred liked to explain this was the origin of his lifelong support for the Cuban Revolution.

Fred joined the Young Socialist Alliance at the University of Tallahassee in Florida in the late 1960s and then the Socialist Workers Party. I first met Fred during the early 1970s, when he was a member of the Boston SWP branch, where he participated in the hard-fought battles to defend school desegregation and Boston’s Black community from racist attack.

For the past 40-plus years, Fred lived in Atlanta. After he became a supporter, he worked with other volunteers at the Pathfinder Press warehouse to fill orders for prisoners who wrote in from around the country for Pathfinder titles, offered at a discounted rate.

In the 1980s Fred was active in the fight to organize workers at the city water department —  where he worked — bus drivers, employees at Grady Hospital and other city and Fulton County workers into American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1644.

In the 1990s, Fred decided to learn Spanish and took immersion courses in Ecuador and Mexico. In 1998, he met his wife, Rosa, a native of Mexico, at a restaurant in Athens, Georgia, that specialized in tutoring Spanish as well as serving food. Rosa was one of those who helped patrons practice their Spanish while they enjoyed their meals.

In 2017 Fred joined the International May Day Brigade to Cuba, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Fred loved to read and looked forward to each new Pathfinder title. He also enjoyed attending Militant Labor Forums when his health permitted. Fred was a regular monthly contributor to the party, the Militant and party fund drives, a sign of his lifelong support for the SWP’s working-class course and the socialist future we are fighting for.

Shortly before his death, Fred called to tell me he wanted to give his “stimulus” check to the party. He really enjoyed seeing that check go toward building the SWP.

Susan LaMont
Atlanta, Georgia