The note that i received was brief. A good friend of mine notified me that our mutual friend, Frederick Simmons, had died just the other day.
You probably have never heard of Frederick. He was a movement soldier in Seattle, Washington. An electrician, he was an active member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and someone who, for years, had been engaged in the struggle for global and domestic justice. A member of the path-breaking organization known as LELO (originally, Labor & Employment Law Office) founded by the iconic Tyree Scott, Frederick was involved in the struggles of Seattle, including the fight to desegregate the building trades.
Frederick was the sort of person who did not seek the limelight. He reminded me, in both his courage and humility, of another ‘soldier’ i met many years ago, James Garrett who, coincidentally, was engaged in the struggle to desegregate the building trades (in that case, in Boston, MA). In both cases, these brothers were willing to take stands and steps that many others avoided. Neither of them saw themselves as leaders, but both were, in their own very important ways.
In our struggle for social justice there are those, such as Frederick, who history will largely ignore. They will not speak before crowds of hundreds of thousands; they will not be invited onto TV or radio; their opinion will not be sought by media outlets or academic researchers. Yet our movement goes nowhere without the likes of Frederick Simmons. He was the sort of person you knew, in going into any fight, would not turn and run. He not only had your back, but expected you, too, to do the right thing.
Frederick Simmons was a loyal friend and a committed fighter for social justice. It is tragic that he was taken from us while he was still full of commitment and energy. But we are lucky that he was with us at all for these many years as someone who heard and responded to the calls for freedom and justice.
May his soul rest easy.