Remembering Bobby

Revolutionary Worker #1201, June 1, 2003, posted at

We received the following correspondence from RW/OR sellers in the San Francisco Bay Area:

Michael Tom Uselton, 58, succumbed to pneumonia on March 15, 2003, after a long, arduous, and heroic struggle against leukemia. Known as "Sasha" to old friends, and "Bobby" to political comrades, Michael struggled to make his life serve the oppressed people of the world, dedicating himself to the distribution of the revolutionary press in the belly of the beast.

Michael made it the foremost purpose of his life to extend a line to oppressed people and their allies by bringing them the Revolutionary Worker/Obrero Revolucionario . He told his comrades that his goal was to sell the RW/OR every day! Every week he made sure stores all over Northern California were supplied with the RW/OR.He took the paper out broadly in the community and to political and cultural events. Michael liked to emphasize the pictures--which helped him connect well with people without much formal education. He studied during spare time in order to sharpen his understanding of difficult political contradictions and to stay current on the details of diverse battles against the system. And he enjoyed discussions and debates around line and philosophy.

Michael was raised in north Texas, and was recognized by his distinctive "southern drawl." Given the racist reputation of the American South, it struck many as unusual to hear Michael's partisan internationalism and radical political stands. He enjoyed mangling "the king's English," and he studied Spanish so he could unite better with the Latino immigrants, who he saw as a great strength for overthrowing the U.S. system.

Michael was responsible for dozens of sharp, vivid and captivating political banners representing the stand of the revolutionary proletariat that were taken out all over the area by RW sellers. These banners were seen at hundreds of struggles and events. You will see some of them for a long time to come! They are part of Michael's legacy of "serving the people." (His favorite slogan!)

Growing up in sparsely populated rural Texas near oil fields with his working class mom and his stepfather, he developed a deep and abiding hatred of the authorities who oppress and lie to the people. He played football in high school and was the first in his family to attend college, where he earned a bachelors degree in education and a masters in fine arts.

His hatred of racism and national oppression led him to take part in the struggle to defend the 1978 Moody Park Rebellion in Houston--a struggle of Chicanos against police murder and brutality. Over the years he took part in the most important struggles of the people: from the fight to defend Mao Tsetung's line after the coup in China to the struggle against the war on Iraq and the U.S. government's "war on the world."

Michael loved to celebrate the people's victories and the defeats suffered by the U.S. government. We remember his excitement when U.S. helicopters were downed in Somalia, or when he saw bold revolutionary graffiti and posters gracing locations right under the system's nose here in the U.S. Michael was thrilled when Iranian students took over the U.S. embassy, when Chairman Gonzalo delivered his "Speech from the Cage," and when Black Panther Geronimo Pratt was released from prison. Michael was also ecstatic when celebrities and professionals, like Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, or attorney William Kunstler, risked their positions to take a partisan stand with the people.

At times Michael struggled with doubts about whether people's gut thinking-- like men's view of women--could ever really be changed. But he knew that for the most radical breakthroughs to be made, the people would need a radical new foundation, with new culture and new institutions that would support the seedlings of new relations. So he channeled his energy into laying the groundwork for such a radical revolution.

He was a rebel at heart--he rode a Harley and drove a 1950s Ford flatbed pickup, which he lent for the Stolen Lives Memorial walls and various parades and marches. He earned a sixth degree black belt and taught karate for 15 years. Michael worked as an arborist--taking care of trees. He lived several years as a vegetarian, loved the hot springs of California, and loved animals. Over the last seven years, Michael and his runt-of-the-litter kitty, "Sweet Thing," became inseparable. Michael took up watercolor and acrylic painting in the last few years of his life. He loved to go skiing with his kids.

We will remember him for giving an example of what it means to live and die for the people, against great odds, as he struggled and organized with the people despite the emotional and physical pain, nausea, and fatigue of terminal cancer and chemotherapy. He sold the RW/OR at street corners and protests up until late February and never complained about his pain. There was nothing else that he'd rather have spent his limited energy doing.

We remember him coming back from one of many medical appointments saying that the enormous U.S. flag in the Kaiser Hospital lobby made him as sick as the chemo--but he was also excited about stories of Korean resistance to U.S. imperialism recounted by a hospital worker.

Five days before his death, he finished a painting celebrating the movement against the war in Iraq and the Not in Our Name Network. And after he could no longer vocalize, he still gave his heart--raising his fist for a strong, determined, red salute.

A week or so before he died, Michael asked his comrades to organize a day in the S.F. Bay Area of broad selling of the Revolutionary Worker/Obrero Revolucionario in his memory. We proudly invite everyone, veteran comrades and brand new readers alike, to join us in a day of broad distribution of our great revolutionary press [see your local distributor for the date and specific plans].

Today, as we face great challenges to defeat the U.S. government's nightmarish future of global domination and to bring a new world into being, we will miss having Comrade Bobby at our side. But we will learn from his example and honor his memory by stepping up our struggle and determination to bury this monstrous system as soon as possible.

Revolutionary Worker/Obrero Revolucionario Sellers, San Francisco Bay Area

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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