We went to the Chartering of two new campus Lions Clubs (Norfolk State University and Eastern Virginia Medical School) ,last night and, of course, Helen Keller's name was mentioned more than once during the ceremony. The Lions code of ethics asks its members to be non political and non sectarian in any practice that involves religion. An interesting American twist is that we have prayer of some kind at every event and often "In Jesus" name. A local Club President bashes the President freely while at the podium. Ah then there is Helen Keller! "In 1971, the Board of Directors of Lions Clubs International declared that henceforth June 1 would be remembered as "Helen Keller Day." Lions around the world implement sight-related service projects on Helen Keller Day. " On June 30, 1925, Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in this crusade against darkness." She said, "I am your opportunity. I am knocking at your door." The Lions have grown to be the world's largest and most active service organization and have focused on sight and hearing ever since. Their aid to Japan and in other disasters is very impressive. Helen Keller was much more than a lot of folks will acknowledge. Read on below to find out why.
The Socialist Legacy of Helen Keller is a well kept secret as is that of Jack London and others.
Many hearing people, Marxists included, are familiar with Helen Keller in one of two ways. Either we see her as the wild child rescued from the prison of deafness and blindness through the heroic efforts of her "miracle worker" teacher, Anne Sullivan; or as the butt of cruel "Helen Keller" jokes. Neither image bears any relation to the actual, politically active Deaf/Blind woman whom that nearly mythical child became.Maybe those of you who are dissapointed in our current President can learn something from Helen's history. The system eats you up and wears you down. it hides your progressive zeal and achievements. All this in a country with a "Free Press". My oh my!
In these texts, she explains how she came to Revolutionary Socialism after her graduation from college. Despite her reliance on intermediaries to communicate with the outside world, Comrade Helen Keller is fully her own person.
Helen Keller became a member of the Socialist Pary in 1909 and by 1912, she had become a national voice for socialism and working class solidarity. Her articles and speeches take on a harder edge as the war machine gears up and the reformist tendency in the Socialist Party forced a split with its revolutionary wing. We can see her calling for party unity in 1913, and then breaking publically with reformism and siding wholeheartedly with the IWW in 1916 and taking up the struggle against President Wilson's hypocritical war machine .
Helen Keller's work for the cause of socialist revolution continued through the years of the First World War up until 1921. She had been long active in efforts to reduce the causes of blindess and provide relief for the Blind. With the collapse of the Socialist Party's commitment to revolution and the on-going persecution of the IWW, Keller lost her connections to the workers movement and became increasingly isolated among reformers and government bureaucrats who did not share her political perspectives.