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Side by Side

Alice and Staughton Lynd, the Ohio Years

Biography, History, Regional Interest

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Foreword by Carl Mirra

Description

“This is a wonderful mix of biography, history, and political reflection. Having ‘accompanied’ the Lynds since 1961, when they lived and taught at Spelman, a black women’s college in Atlanta, they have consistently helped empower generations of activists through their Quaker brand of participatory democracy. Their legacy is a spirit more powerful than a party.” —Tom Hayden

Alice and Staughton Lynd have devoted their lives to the struggle for social justice. Carl Mirra began the history of the Lynds with his biography, Admirable Radical: Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent, 1945–1970 (The Kent State University Press, 2010). Side by Side picks up the Lynds’ story as they move to Youngstown, Ohio, to begin a new chapter in their lives.

Throughout their narrative, authors Mark Weber and Stephen Paschen examine the idea of accompaniment, a form of political activism that differs from the traditional strategies used by labor and community organizers. Rather than moving from fight to fight, the Lynds lived within the community in need, helping steelworkers and residents cope with the devastating closures of the major steel mills in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. Working with clergy, laborers, and civic leaders, Staughton Lynd advanced the idea of a worker-community-owned steel mill that would provide employment for some of the thousands of workers whose jobs had been lost. The dramatic if unsuccessful attempt to launch a cooperatively owned manufacturing enterprise was the first of a number of efforts by the Lynds to put their knowledge and experience at the service of those who have no voice.

Quakers Alice and Staughton Lynd worked in Central America and Israel, where they championed the rights of Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank. They took up the cause of prisoners’ rights following the April 1993 Lucasville, Ohio, prison uprising—the longest such rebellion in American history—working to improve the living conditions of the five inmates who were convicted of leading the rebellion. Together with Jules Lobel of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Lynds filed suit on behalf of death row inmates who were kept in solitary confinement in Ohio’s prisons. Their lawsuit contributed to a landmark decision that improved living conditions for inmates in solitary confinement and established that prisoners have due process rights that have to be observed before they can be sent to solitary confinement.

Through its exploration of the Lynds and their practice of accompaniment, Side by Side makes an important contribution to the study of social justice and grassroots activism.

Authors

Mark W. Weber was the dean of Libraries at Kent State University until his retirement in 2010. He has known and worked with the Lynds since 1998.

Stephen H. Paschen was associate professor and archivist at Kent State University Libraries until his retirement in 2013. He is the author of a number of books on regional history.

Acclaim

Side by Side: Alice and Staughton Lynd, the Ohio Years is one of the most inspiring books about Staughton and Alice Lynd. This is no ordinary biography. The idea of accompaniment, practiced by Lynds, is the most interesting and original effort to build a new movement for social change in the United States. This splendid book is a required reading for anyone who believes in other possible worlds produced alongside neoliberal capitalism.” —Andrej Grubacic, coauthor of Wobblies and Zapatistas and editor of The Staughton Lynd Reader

“The Lynds are real heroes to people concerned about social justice. This is a fascinating account of their life and their work. Through many long decades the Lynds worked together in a range of movements pushing for reform. They were part of many successes, but also shared the failures and disappointments of the rest of the left. Unlike many of their contemporaries, their commitment has never wavered. Readers can learn much from their thought, but even more from their lives.” —Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

“Weber and Paschen use documentary material and extensive interviews with both the Lynds and those with whom they have worked to illuminate the work of a couple who have dedicated their lives to justice for the poor and the working class. While other books have covered Staughton’s earlier work, Side by Side picks up in the 1970s, where other works leave off. The inclusion of Alice’s work alongside Staughton’s finally gives Alice her due, although her more low-key efforts are sometimes eclipsed by her husband’s higher-visibility involvement. Readers interested in social justice and labor issues, late twentieth-century radicalism, or the collapse of the steel industry in northeast Ohio from the workers’ viewpoint will find Side by Side a worthwhile read.”—Ohioana Quarterly

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