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Kentucky Alliance Oral History Project: Ira Grupper

Kentucky Alliance Oral History Project

Interview: Ira Grupper

Ira Grupper’s social justice work began in 1959 as a teenager in his New York housing project. Grupper’s social justice, labor organizing, and disability rights work has taken him all over the U.S. South and around the world. He is an active member of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

Transcript of clips

Topic: The importance of addressing racism and political repression

[15:29] I wanted an alliance against racist and political repression. Those are the two Achilles heels, preventing unity among progressive people, racism now as it was in the past. This is not to denigrate other problems like sexism, homophobia and handicap discrimination, age. Race seems to be this Achilles hell, this tremendous weakness. W.E.B. Dubois once said, “The problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the color line.” I think the problem of the 21st Century is the same. I don’t think it has changed. Again, this is not to say that other forms of ruling class division are unimportant, they are very important. Racism is the key. [16:06]

Topic: Current challenge of fighting racism

[37:05] I’m giving you all of these details by way of saying that the system has learned how to adapt to changed circumstances. This is not to say or imply that racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism and the other discrimination isn’t sometimes, and oftentimes, blatant. It’s more often less blatant, more subtle, more sophisticated. I as a member of the Kentucky Alliance want to just rip this sheet off this new façade. The Klan is still wearing a sheet, except the sheet is not as readily apparent. That’s the work that I’m very interested in doing. I would like to see the Alliance do this more because we would be more aggressive, more insidious in our pursuit because we have no implementer of enforcement. We’re not a city or a county agency. This is what needs to be done in the near future. It’s not being done often enough. It’s not just here. It’s across the country. So that’s where I am. [38:22]