Barbara Zeluck Presente!

Posted June 16, 2010

Barbara Adler Tucker Zeluck
August 18, 1923 – June 5, 2010

On Saturday, September 18 at 4:00 pm we will gather in Manhattan, New York to celebrate the life of Barbara Zeluck. Please join us at The Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies, 25 W. 43rd Street, on the 18th floor.

Our comrade Barbara Zeluck died at her home June 5 in New York City. She recently successfully battled a case of septicemia that occurred while she was in hospital for a urinary tract infection. Friends and comrades have been visiting her in the weeks since. A memorial event is being planned for mid-September.

Born in 1923 into a coal mine owning family in Birmingham, Alabama, Barbara traveled far — socially, politically, and geographically — in her life. She joined the Communist Party while a student at Vassar in the early 1940s. Like many others, she left it following the suppression of the 1956 Hungarian revolution and the revelation of Nikita Khrushchev’s “secret speech” outlining Stalin’s crimes. She was subsequently a member of the Socialist Workers Party, the International Socialists, Workers Power and then from 1986 until her death a founding member of Solidarity.

Her journey through the U.S. left was always grounded in her commitment to a vision of socialism achieved through the action of a self-organized working-class. Likewise, her belief in radical democracy and her anti-capitalist politics guided her work in the women’s movement in the 1970s and 1980s when she was deeply involved, through CARASA (the Coalition for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse), in efforts to build a movement for reproductive rights led by working class women of color.

The political causes Barbara was involved in ranged from opposition to the Vietnam War to support for self-determination for Palestine to support for a single-payer health care plan. In her later years, she remained a stalwart member of Solidarity and provided much needed political and financial support to efforts promoting rank-and-file organization within unions.

She helped build the White Lung Association to fight the outrages of corporations who visited the white deaths of mesothelioma and asbestosis on hundreds of thousands of workers and workers’ families. This passion was inspired by the death of Barbara’s husband Steve Zeluck, a veteran teacher unionist and longtime socialist militant, who contracted mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos decades earlier as a shipyard worker.

Beyond Solidarity we knew Barbara through her vast knowledge and love of opera (she shared tickets for terrific seats at the Met with many over the years) and her work around occupational health and safety.

Barbara had a long and active life, unwavering in her support for radical social change and movements that she felt were dedicated to mobilizing the working class and raising class consciousness. She always believed that a better world was possible. It would be wonderful to hear from those who worked with and knew about different aspects of her life. Please send any memories you would like to share with Solidarity and her daughter Merry and son Paul to Marsha Niemeijer,