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As Yuri's memory wanes, so does the Movement's reach. Movement stalwarts would say that not since the Vietnam War has the need for opposition been so great. But dissent has reached its lowest ebb in generations as George W. Bush's approval ratings soar. Although Yuri represents the feisty courage of opposition in all its principled glory, she simultaneously symbolizes its declining impact. The protesters may be out there, but they're marching in circles.
While Yuri says that Bay Area activism rivals that of New York, she also admits the Movement isn't what it was back in the '60s and '70s, when she was a fixture on the New York scene with her cat-eye glasses and her kerchief, pushing her children and grandchildren to protests in a stroller.
She was an early partisan in the ethnic-studies movement; a supporter of the Young Lords, who wanted Puerto Rican independence; and a card-carrying member of the Republic of New Africa, whose goal was to purchase five southern states and secede from the Union. On ethnic studies, the Movement won. On the latter two -- and countless other causes -- it did not.
To be a Movement person is to live a life of losses, yet still retain hope. And Yuri never lets go of hope. She may forget things now, but she learns them again. When, in rare moments, she has time to herself, she takes Malcolm's edict to "know history" at heart, and devours history books. Her eyes dart behind big glasses as she sits in her tiny room, its shelves stuffed with files, its walls plastered with family photos and Movement leaflets, its light burning long into the night.
Seven Days - March 22, 5:57 PM
Seven Days - March 22, 5:38 PM
Seven Days - March 21, 8:22 PM
Seven Days - March 21, 7:27 PM