Celebrate Jarvis Tyner by giving to one of his favorite causes: People’s World
Jarvis Tyner, in this still of a film by Michael Tyner, talks about his younger years.

I first met Jarvis Tyner on a spring morning in 1964 when I picked him up at the Amherst, Mass. bus depot. Jarvis was on tour recruiting young people to attend the founding convention of the W.E.B DuBois Clubs, a multiracial socialist youth organization. Joyce and I and our infant son were on his shortlist. I was in my senior year at Amherst College.

When he stepped off the bus, Jarvis was wearing a light blazer and no overcoat. A frigid wind blew from the snowbound Pelham Hills. He started shivering.

Leo Marx, American Studies professor at Amherst, was on his list for a contribution to pay for the convention in San Francisco the coming summer.  Jarvis was still trembling from the cold despite my best efforts to warm him up when he met Marx.

He made his pitch for a Marxist youth organization to fight corporate greed, imperialist wars, and race and gender oppression. Marx listened, then pulled out his wallet and handed Jarvis a hundred or so dollars. “Take $20 from this and buy yourself a winter coat, young man,” said Marx.

Jarvis bought a parka and, once toasty warm, delivered an impassioned plea to 20 students from Amherst College, UMass, Mount Holyoke, and Smith College, who packed the living room of our apartment.

I fondly recall that first meeting with Jarvis, then just a youngster. Now he is celebrating his 80th birthday! Celebrate this milestone on #GivingTuesday by donating to one of Jarvis’s favorite causes: People’s World.

Jarvis and I renewed our friendship in 1967 when I became a reporter for The Worker, and he was DuBois Clubs’ national chairperson.  Joyce, I, and our children lived on Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, and Jarvis and his family lived nearby in Crown Heights. His son, Keith, was a bosom buddy of our boys, romping together in our fourth-floor walkup.

Jarvis was heartbroken when Keith died tragically years later. I remember Jarvis speaking of Keith at a meeting. He choked up, tears welling. We, too, loved Keith and mourned with Jarvis. Nothing in Jarvis’ personality is more endearing than his love for his children and grandchildren.

In his autumn years, he is in the loving embrace of his dear wife Lydia, and together they enjoy an active and meaningful life. As the Hebrew saying goes, “His cup runneth over.”

This wellspring of love for others is what makes Jarvis such a wonderful human being, skilled organizer, and passionate speaker, writer, and teacher. As a reporter, I covered many events where he spoke over the years. Sometimes his words send chills up my spine because he is so optimistic and sees the good and decency in people.

Jarvis has always had a love of little children and really of all human beings.

Jarvis has his feet firmly planted in the present with an eye to the future. On #GivingTuesday, celebrate with him by donating to one of his favorite causes and build the voice and movements for equality, peace, climate justice, and socialism: People’s World,

Jarvis understands Paul Robeson’s plea for communists, socialists, and progressive activists to swim in the mainstream and unite with those on the left and political center, and the overwhelming majority of people, against a common foe and menace.

He understands the struggle for democracy is central to winning social advances and ultimately achieving socialism or working-class economic and political democracy. He appeals eloquently for the unity and solidarity of African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, white, women and men, young and older, LGBTQ and straight, and immigrant and native-born.

That wisdom is the fruit of decades of experience in the movement and his life experiences as a worker, a former Teamster, an African American born and raised in Philadelphia with his family, including his brother, the legendary jazz pianist McCoy, and sister Gwen. Jarvis is from the same mold as other Philadelphia communists, including Paul and Eslanda Robeson, whose house was nearby, and William Z. Foster, Elsie Dickerson, and Debbie Amos Bell.

That movement wisdom is priceless at a time when Republicans and their billionaire backers are embracing violent insurrection, stripping voting rights, trying to clamp a fascist-like tyranny on our nation, and obstructing every effort to address the existential climate crisis. That wisdom is gold in the hands of the democratic majority, including the new generation of young activists taking the stage, opposing this future.

His life’s experience led to his understanding of the historic mission of our multiracial working class to lead the struggle for democracy, race and gender equality, peace, socialism, and to save planet Earth from global climate change.

Jarvis Tyner’s 80th birthday is a great occasion to celebrate a wonderful and active life and the mass democratic movement he has helped lead from union and youth organizer, Civil Rights, and anti-war leader to a vice-presidential candidate and CPUSA national vice-chair.

I send Jarvis my best wishes for good health and happiness and many more years in the struggle for democracy, equality, a livable planet, and socialism. As a modest token of my love, I’m making a #GivingTuesday contribution to one of his favorite causes: People’s World.

Tim Wheeler

Volunteer Writer, People’s World

Member since 1959, CPUSA


Tim Wheeler
Tim Wheeler

Tim Wheeler has written over 10,000 news reports, exposés, op-eds, and commentaries in his half-century as a journalist for the Worker, Daily World, and People’s World. Tim also served as editor of the People’s Weekly World newspaper.  His book News for the 99% is a selection of his writings over the last 50 years representing a history of the nation and the world from a working-class point of view. After residing in Baltimore for many years, Tim now lives in Sequim, Wash.