Zenaida Mendez introduces Jarvis Tyner at the Better World Awards on December 11th, 2016
What would we do without the arts, without music, without poets? What would we do? We cannot do it. It’s part of our DNA. I am very privileged to have been part of this movement. Even now, at 61, and I am so happy it was in the last 10 years I have been able to socialize a little bit more with Jarvis, and Angela Davis, and some others which I admire and read about them and see them in the news, and to be able to sit down one-on-one, and get to know the person. Cause that’s what we’re talking about. Getting to know each other as human beings. It’s not enough to see them. I mean, these are our brothers and sisters who are in the movement and who are teaching every day. And if someone like Jarvis can do it for so many – decades! Not days, not years – decades – and be able to teach us that never give up. Every single day we wake up with a new challenge. A personal challenge, a community challenge, a world challenge. But every day we also can see how young people striving, going to school, graduating, following in their own steps like we seen here tonight, that is really important.
So this young man – because remember now, we live – after 125 we can start saying seniors now. And if you’re living, if you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by family and good friends, and music, and arts, and a good book, and someone like Fidel, who every day said, “You know what, let’s keep it going. Let’s keep reading. Let’s keep learning. It is important.
Jarvis – like I said, I’m not going to say when he was born because he’s not 125 yet, he was the second child born to Jarvis Sr. and Beatrice Tyner.
Jarvis attended West Philadelphia High School, graduating in 1959. And I have the privilege to bring Jarvis to a television program that I am the executive producer. It’s called Radical Imagination, and we air it every Sunday at 8pm in Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and Jarvis was one of our guests, and I learned so much in that hour interview about Jarvis. When he graduated, he didn’t know what to do, and someone told him, ‘oh there is a meeting going on every week in such and such place.’ He said, ‘really? Oh, can I join this meeting?’ And he did. And that’s what we have to do. We have to start knocking doors, and attend, in your city find out what’s going on in that door front, what’s going on there? And that’s what he did. And he was an active member of the Amalgamated Union and later the Teamsters Union when he worked in a furniture factory that he helped to organize.
As a young activist in civil rights, peace and justice movement, we see that Jarvis worked with and eventually joined the Communist Party of the United States in 1961.
It’s been a real privilege not only for me, but I think for all of us to be able to work with this young activist that every single day will learn more and more and I hope that I have the privilege to be able to interview him in a serious interview so we all can have that.