The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Culture Corner:
A Day in the Life of Abed Salama & Rustin

Dec 11, 2023

Book: A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy, by Nathan Thrall, 2023

This award-winning non-fiction book narrates the events surrounding a 2012 school bus crash and fire in the West Bank. Seven Palestinian kindergarten students died. The author painstakingly details all the events which led up to the crash, some personal, some historical. He presents the historical details by telling the stories of all the individuals involved, the parents, the teachers, the security personnel, of how they all came to intersect on that fateful day. As each character unfolds, he presents maps and detailed background information which enable the reader to see the plight of the Palestinians, mainly in the West Bank but also in Gaza, and why and where they are today. It’s no wonder many say this is the book of the year.

Movie: Rustin, directed by George C. Wolfe, 2023, on Netflix

This film shows the work that went into organizing the August 28, 1963, civil rights march of 250,000 people in Washington, D.C. Colman Domingo stars as the title character, Bayard Rustin, who dreamt up the idea of a massive march on Washington to push John F. Kennedy to back civil rights legislation. He was a Black homosexual in a time period where persecution and racism were both rampant and had also been a young Communist. The film shows how personal attacks were used against him to try and control his outspokenness.

The film focuses on what the top civil rights leaders thought and did, and in that sense gives a somewhat lopsided view of the movement. You still get glimpses of the bubbling energy of the youth driving the movement, looking for direction and leadership.