Template:TOCnestleft Wendell Addington , after a long struggle with cancer, died on Oct. 19. 1998. Addington was a life-long communist who joined Workers World Party last spring when he already knew that his illness was terminal.
He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1953 into a political family that moved to Detroit when he was 10. Influenced by his parents' involvement in the civil rights and progressive movements, Addington began to develop an interest in struggles for peace, equality and social justice. He attended demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and organized a student group that raised funds for a three-week trip to Yugoslavia to get a look at a socialist country.
Addington was an activist in the campaign to free Angela Davis. He headed up literature distribution for the 1972 Communist Party election campaign in Michigan. He became convinced that social justice and racial equality could only be achieved through the creation of socialism, a society where all productive wealth belongs to all for the benefit of all.
In 1974, he spent three months in Cuba as a member of the Venceremos Brigade, helping to build an elementary school while learning about socialism first hand. Impressed by Cuba's success in eradicating illiteracy, creating a free health care system, and forming a society where workers had a voice in decision making, Addington returned to Detroit even more determined to make a difference.
In August of 1974, he and two fellow brigadistas got jobs at Great Lakes Steel to bring the ideas of socialism to their fellow workers. During the recession of 1975, he was elected co-chair of the Detroit Youth Jobs Coalition. He also participated in activities to support desegregation of Detroit's public school system.
In 1978 he was co-chair of the Michigan Youth Festival Committee that organized a delegation to the World Youth Festival in Cuba.
Addington was an activist in the Local 1299 Steelworkers Fightback and later the Local 1299 Rank and File Caucus. He was discharged in 1980 for his leadership in the fight against concessions in the Heating Department. This dismissal was eventually overturned with back pay.
During the 1980s he helped to organize the Trade Union Educational Project, later known as the Trade Union Educational League, which developed educational material on labor history, labor solidarity and the fight against concessions. The TUEP organized fundraisers for the fight against apartheid, raised money to send youth on trips to the South, and supported the Jesse Jackson campaigns of 1984 and 1988.
In all his many efforts for social justice and progressive causes, he was always ready to do the difficult work of passing out leaflets and stuffing envelopes, as well as assuming leadership positions.
During the 1980s and into the 1990s he attended Wayne State University part-time, earning a Bachelors Degree in American History in 1989 and a Masters degree in History in 1997. He wrote his masters thesis on "Reds at the Rouge" - the role of communists in organizing the Ford Rouge plant in Detroit.
Even after falling ill, he was well known in his neighborhood for helping create the Hope Mini-Park and revitalizing the Hope Park Association.
Addington is survived by his daughter, Lea Elaine Addington, and many other relatives. At a family-organized memorial meeting for him, Cheryl LaBash of Workers World Party spoke of how Addington's life had touched on every important struggle:
"If there was a caravan to support a strike, you can bet that Wendell was not only in it, but pushing the Steelworkers Union to help organize it.
"In fact, he reaffirmed his commitment as a communist just last spring, unfortunately as his cancer was coming back for his final battle. After seeing the wonderful and dynamic youth that were joining Workers World Party, he asked to join us, too.
"And after many years of having worked together - Wendell was absolutely non-sectarian, he worked with any organization struggling for the working class - we were very glad to welcome him in our ranks."
Supported Communist Party call
Communist Party's May Day Salute
In 1995 the Communist Party USA newspaper People's Weekly World, published a "May Day salute" to the "heroes in the class war zone". More than 200 unionists endorsed the call, mostly known affiliates, or members of the Communist Party.
Wendell Addington USWA, Detroit, was one of those listed.
Christopher Alston Memorial
In May 1995 the Communist Party USA Newspaper, People's Weekly World published a memorial to Christopher Alston. It was endorsed by several signatories, mainly identified members of the Michigan Communist Party USA. The list included Wendell Addington.
Memorial to Coleman Young
Signatories to the memorial included Wendell Addington.
- WW Wendell Addington, steel worker, life-long communist Special to Workers World Detroit
- PWW, May Day Supplement May 2, 1992
- People's Weekly World May 6 1995 p 2
- PWW May Day Supplement, May 6 1995, Page F.