Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Clint Jencks Dies

Clint Jencks died on December 15, 2005. Clint was 87 and was a Professor Emeritus of Economics at San Diego State University, having retired from SDSU in 1986. Younger left activists may not know that Clint Jencks was a legendary figure from the American labor
movement and the struggles against McCarthyism.

In 1950, Clint was a leader of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers
in southwest New Mexico. He led a strike of mostly Latino zinc miners in Silver City, NM. Shortly after this strike, in the midst of the Hollywood red scare, a group of blacklisted film industry artists formed their own production company and were looking for a
story about American working people. They chose a story based on the IUMMSW strike, and used the actual participants in the strike as actors. Clint essentially played himself. Every step in the production of the film, processing, editing, etc. encountered determined opposition from the industry. It was almost impossible to find theaters that would show the film, but in 1954 "Salt of the Earth", starring Clint Jencks opened to very, very limited distribution.

Times changed. Salt of the Earth was ultimately recognized as a national treasure, and was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 100 films to be preserved for posterity. Clint went on to get his Ph.D. in economics at U.C. Berkeley. He joined the SDSU Economics Department in 1964 and played an important role in the SDSU community and in the SDSU faculty union movement for 22 years. After retirement, Clint remained a familiar figure and participant in Democartic Socialists of America and and the San Diego progressive movement.

There will be a memorial service on Jan. 8, 2006.

A DVD of "Salt of the Earth" can be ordered from the Labor Heritage Foundation.

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