Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

4 September

Paul Robeson he's the man _ That faced the Ku Klux Klan _ On Hollow Grove's golfing ground _ His words come sounding _ And all around him there _ To jump and clap and cheer _ I sent the best I had, the best I had _ My thirty thousand _ Woody Guthrie, my thirty thousand

September 4, 2009
2 min read

The anti-communist and racist Peekskill riots took place today in 1949 in Van Cortlandtville, Westchester County, New York.

They were sparked by a concert by socialist Paul Robeson, which had already been postponed once before for fear of stirring unrest. Between 20,000 and 30,000 people came to the rescheduled concert. While the concert itself was peaceful, mainly due to thousands of union members and soldiers volunteering to provide security, the aftermath left 145 people injured.

‘Let me tell you the story of a line that was held

And many men and women whose courage we know well

As they held the line at Peekskill on that lone September day

We will hold the line forever ’til the people have their way.

Spoken (Howard Fast):

My name is Howard Fast. I’m here to tell you the story of Peekskill. You see, there are actually two Peekskills. Two concerts. Two fascist attacks. And I was at both. You won’t get the true story from the daily press or the radio, so we’re putting it on record for you now. Here are the facts … The Klan elements in Westchester county threatened violence. Police protection was asked. Four deputies showed up to watch 700 so-called veterans attack the early picnickers. These 700 hoodlums closed the only exits, and for three hours they were kept from killing the women and children by a brave group of 39 men and boys, negro and white. Before the police came, the mob had smashed the rented chairs and burned our music, while they shouted anti-negro and anti-semitic epithets, and boasted that they would finish Hitler’s job.’

Lyrics as recorded by Howard Fast, narrator: Peter Seeger

September 7, 1949, released as Charter C502A/C502B, reprinted in Songs For Political Action (accompanying book), Bear Family Records, page 174


Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.

Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu

Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns

Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism

Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists

Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson

As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win

The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution

Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.

‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny