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RAYMOND CABALLERO - McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks
Monday, September 30 at 7 PM
speaking & signing
McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks
In conversation with Mayor Steve Adler
ABOUT McCARTHYISM VS. CLINTON JENCKS
For twenty years after World War II, the United States was in the grips of its second and most oppressive red scare. The hysteria was driven by conflating American Communists with the real Soviet threat. The anticommunist movement was named after Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, but its true dominant personality was FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who promoted and implemented its repressive policies and laws. The national fear over communism generated such anxiety that Communist Party members and many left-wing Americans lost the laws’ protections. Thousands lost their jobs, careers, and reputations in the hysteria, though they had committed no crime and were not disloyal to the United States. Among those individuals who experienced more of anticommunism’s varied repressive measures than anyone else was Clinton Jencks.
Jencks, a decorated war hero, adopted as his own the Mexican American fight for equal rights in New Mexico’s mining industry. In 1950 he led a local of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers in the famed Empire Zinc strike—memorialized in the blacklisted 1954 film Salt of the Earth—in which wives and mothers replaced strikers on the picket line after an injunction barred the miners themselves. But three years after the strike, Jencks was arrested and charged with falsely denying that he was a Communist and was sentenced to five years in prison. In Jencks v. United States (1957), the Supreme Court overturned his conviction in a landmark decision that mandated providing to an accused person previously hidden witness statements, thereby making cross-examination truly effective.
In McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks, Caballero reveals for the first time that the FBI and the prosecution knew all along that Clinton Jencks was innocent. Jencks’s case typified the era, exposing the injustice that many suffered at the hands of McCarthyism. The tale of Jencks’s quest for justice provides a fresh glimpse into the McCarthy era’s oppression, which irrevocably damaged the lives, careers, and reputations of thousands of Americans.
ABOUT RAYMOND CABALLERO
Raymond Caballero is an independent historian whose research has long focused on Mexico, especially the Mexican Revolution.
ABOUT MAYOR STEVE ADLER
Steve Adler is Austin’s 52nd Mayor, having won re-election in 2018 by 40 points in a field of 8 candidates. His top priorities include mobility, affordability and equity for all Austinites. Adler is a Trustee of the United States Conference of Mayors, Chair of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) policy board, and Vice President of the National Council of Democratic Mayors.
While he’s been in office the City of Austin passed the largest mobility and affordable housing bonds in its history. The city raised its minimum city wage to $15/hr, passed city-wide sick leave and second chance hiring protections. Still working on the homelessness challenge, the city has become one of a limited number of cities to achieve effective net zero veteran homelessness. The city has become a world leader on climate change action.
Mayor Adler has received broad recognition for innovative leadership. Foreign Policy named him a Global reThinker and Living Cities included Mayor Adler on its list of 25 Disruptive Leaders (along with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and author Ta-Nehihi Coates) to mark that organization’s 25th anniversary. The Austin Chronicle readership has named Mayor Adler as Best City Official each year since 2016. Chronicle critics named Adler Best Drag Mother for his turn as Mother Ginger in Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker and Most Devoted Pen Pal for his viral Wonder Woman letter. Austin Monthly named Mayor Adler “Best Politician” for “fearlessly speaking up for Austinites [and] proving that a little snark goes a long way to support the morale of a community.”
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