Response: Robin D.G. Kelley

Response: Robin D.G. Kelley

How would I answer “The Question” if it were asked of me? I wasn’t even an embryo when Nikita Khrushchev unveiled Stalin’s reign of terror to the rest of the world, though I was taught about it in excruciating detail beginning in the fifth grade. That was 1972. I knew Stalin as the world’s most vicious slaughterer, and any thought of him returning from the dead scared me more than my grandfather’s sermons about the devil delivered from his pulpit at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church. As a kid I also remember hearing how the communists were taking over Vietnam and enslaving little children. Yet, a couple years earlier, while grubbing down at a Black Panther party free breakfast program in New York City, I might have heard somebody say that the Viet Cong were our friends. I didn’t pay much attention since I already had a friend; his name was Todd and he lived in the projects. In 1975 (by this time I had moved to Seattle), I joined the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) intent on eventually getting into the U.S. Air Force Academy. In CAP we not only studied the record of brutality and domination behind the Iron Curtain, we were tested on it.

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Lima