Monday, September 05, 2011

RIP Ester King and Jon Axford

The progressive movement in Houston lost two of its warriors last week.

"From the '60s to 2011, there was barely a progressive movement that took place that did have the involvement and leadership of Ester King," said longtime friend and fellow Houston activist Omowale Luthuli-Allen. "I'm going to miss his intellectual brilliance, his unceasing devotion to peace and freedom and I'm going to miss the steadfastness that he had to encourage the community to have a backbone."


Of the many writings King left behind is this explanation about his initial interest in social justice: "There was one incident that really caught my attention, the Emmett Till lynching in Money, Mississippi in 1955. He was my age, on vacation with relatives in a rural farming town just like Magnolia Springs. As I looked at that infamous picture of his coffin-enclosed corpse (almost recognizable as human) in Jet magazine, I learned to my utter horror that lynching was not reserved for adults."


King supported causes ranging from environmental justice as well as the rights of workers, women, tenants, children and immigrants. He was involved in the Free South Africa movement, anti-death penalty coalitions and efforts to address police use of deadly force.

"He was consistent. Some people were involved when they were young, but he stayed on the front lines and he helped train a whole new generation of organizers and activists in the community," said Kofi Taharka, national chairman of the National Black United Front. "There are a lot of younger people, like myself, that consider him a mentor and adviser. He dedicated his life to the liberation of African- American people and social justice causes for all people."

At the Harris County Green Party's Labor Day function Saturday evening, the lives and legacies of King and Jon Axford were celebrated.

Here's what Jon had to say about himself on his Facebook page: "I post pictures on Indy Media, I try to help promote peace in the world, etc." Indeed Jon contributed much to many peace and justice campaigns over the years. From anti-war protests to Veterans for Peace to campaigns against Halliburton, Jon was always there to help.

One of his enduring contributions is the hundreds of photo essays he took and posted here on the Houston Indymedia site.

Even as progressives in Houston and Harris County grow the movement, it hurts to lose the history and the spirit these two men represent.

May they rest in peace.

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