CCDS is greatly saddened by the news that Al Fishman of Detroit, Michigan, a life-long stalwart for peace and justice, died suddenly last week. Al served in many roles over decades of struggle. Among them, Al was state chair of the New Democratic Coalition of Michigan that supported the anti-war candidacy of Eugene McCarthy and opposed the U.S. war on Vietnam from 1966-71. He was a member of the National Board of Peace Action, a leader of Michigan Peace Action and a member of CCDS’ Peace and Solidarity Committee.
Al was a member of the Communist Party until he and hundreds of others left and formed the Committees of Correspondence in 1992. He was also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Al was also my co-worker at Wayne County Community College in Detroit in the early 1970s and a friend of nearly 40 years. He was also my dear comrade and mentor. It is fitting that he had a meeting arranged with Sen. Carl Levin’s office this week. He often arranged group meetings with elected officials pressing for nuclear disarmament, an end to U.S. wars of aggression and was relied upon in matters of the peace movement by a number of elected officials. Al and his wife of 60 years who survives him, Marge Fishman, were instrumental in the campaign to elect Detroit’s first African American Mayor, Coleman Young, in 1974.
Al will always be remembered for his clarity on two important issues of strategy for the peace movement: in order to make any significant advance for peace and justice, the two most important forces for change must be joined in the struggle - labor and the African American people’s movement for equality. And secondly, the widest possible front must be formed targeting the far right-wing, particularly in the electoral arena.
Al lived his life until his very last days with this mission at the fore. He had been at a Peace Action meeting the day before he suffered a massive heart attack, complaining about a pain in his knee. His fellow Peace Action members urged him to go to the doctor the next day, where he died.
It is hard for me to believe that Al is not with us anymore. I so treasured my visits back home in Detroit to spend the afternoon with he and Margaret around the kitchen table, going through a couple pots of coffee, discussing the movement in Detroit and the world – always with optimism and resolve. I will miss him so.
There will be a memorial for Al at the church renowned for its place in the peace and justice movement - Central Methodist Church in downtown Detroit, Friday, May 25th at 12:00 noon.
Al Fishman, Presente!