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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Number 19, 1976.]

Willie Mae Reid at Varsity

Willie Mae Reid at Varsity

Because it's hard to predict who will be elected to the United States presidency, its even more difficult to know who will be Vice-President. One thing is near certain, though, Willie Mae Reid won't be the new VP.

Nevertheless, she talked for around an hour at a forum on Monday last. Her talk and trip to New Zealand was organised by the Young Socialists and the Socialist Action League. As the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Socialist Workers Party, she came to the South Pacific spreading the word, appearing on the Brian Edwards Show. Initially justifying her presence in the Union hall by likening her visit to that of Nelson Rockefeller earlier this year, she said that Socialists have a world view, as well.

She soon came on the offensive, however in trying to win friends and influence students. If the audience was expecting a dynamic and forceful speaker, they weren't disappointed. Admittedly about the only person in the room eligible to vote, she didn't give us too many issues, but did point out the injustices felt by minority political parties in the past.

Her speech was mainly berating United States politics, a history of the oppression, harassment and intimidation suffered by her party members at the illegal hands of the FBI. She indicated the tide was turning in 1976 and that it was "clearly good to be a socialist in America today". Many Americans would disagree. In New Zealand the situation is obviously different as Mr Muldoon has noted, saying the day of the trendy lefty is over. Not so stateside.

She told a generally receptive audience of the successful efforts of the Socialist Workers Party in gaining court orders forcing US intelligence and security organisations to hand over untold (8,000,000) documents. She told already well known stories about CIA interference with democracy in Chile, Congo and Cuba.

A Black feminist and activist involved in the civil rights movement and one-time opponent, for the Chicago mayoralty, against Daley, she spoke of party expansion from 23 to 59 offices in recent years. No membership count.

Backtracking to her words about the American system, she described the primaries and elections as the "lull before the [unclear: lull]" and went on to severely denounce the CIA and FBI for spying on Americans.

With some degree of condescension she even complimented the New York Times for investigating these activities. (Without condoning these things, not too many states would allow open challenges to intelligence agencies to get to Court and succeed.).

After her talk, a fundraising was held and the Taihape to Taumaranui portion of her Auckland to Wellington flight was paid for with donations coming from several pockets of enthusiasm.

Later question were asked. One answer particularly well handled was on busing. A good point on low voter interest was spoilt by the fact that many of us don't realise primaries are purely internal party elections to choose candidates. Few New Zealanders choose their National or Labour party candidates. It's not often we see vice-presidential candidates here and Willie Mae Reid made an interesting speaker.

Her appearance was enhanced by the attractive plants around the stage and the fact that her talk has been reported in the Evening Post as well as in little 'ol radical Salient.

You should have been there.

Photo of Willie Mae Reid