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Chapter Seven

 

The “Little Literature” Campaign

 

 

how I put the literature together

I began campaigning actively in much the same way as in the Congressional campaign last year: I printed hundreds of half-page flyers on colored paper. Some were posted on public bulletin boards around the district and some were handed to store managers and others as I made the rounds of commercial districts. I probably met more than a thousand persons in this way. It was my main mode of campaigning as the election drew near last year.

This year, running for mayor of Minneapolis, I prepared a different half-page flyer. The text read:

“ New Dignity Party

For Mayor: Bill McGaughey (Harrison neighborhood, west of downtown)
For Park Board: John Butler (Windom Park neighborhood, northeast MPLS)
For Board of Estimate & Taxation: Jim Swartwood (Kenny, southwest MPLS)

 

New Dignity Party, begun on the 4th of July this year, promotes the dignity and self-esteem of white people as well as that of black people, Asian-Americans, Latinos, native Americans, and other groups. It opposes the predatory relationship which the city of Minneapolis has assumed with respect to city residents - high property taxes, aggressive pursuit of fees, frivolous regulation, and persecution of small businesses. Finally, it calls upon the Star Tribune to end its biased political reporting and become a newspaper worthy of this community.

We’re small right now but aspire some day to be a national party.”

The flyer also contained illustrations taken from late 19th century magazines such as Scribners or New Century thus avoiding copyright infringement and exhibiting an exotic set of images. Most were portraits of men and women from that era. There was a “peasant girl of Maragata” (Spain), Dudley Buck (a New York music administrator), Roland de la Platiera (husband of Mme. Roland from revolutionary France), Emin Pasha (governor of Africa’s Equatorial province), a Shan (Burmese) peasant girl, and Mrs. Simpson (who had been present during the first use of Chloroform).

These now obscure persons were picked out of a book for their visual impact. I pasted their images, three per half sheet, on the margins of the flyer, along with the image of a soaring bird. Two such sheets could be produced inexpensively from each 8.5” by 11” copy. I supposed that people might want to look at the flyers to guess who these dignified-looking persons were. Maybe they would then get around to asking what New Dignity Party stood for.

how I distributed it

As in the campaign for Congress, I first posted these flyers on public bulletin boards along the “Grand Rounds” route of the Minneapolis Park system. This took me two days. I did not bother seeking permission to post the messages since no one seemed to know the policy governing this situation. (Park Board employees would tear most of them down anyhow.) Where there was space, I also posted photocopies of my “statement” on identity. Then, as before, I started hitting commercial establishments.

My notes show that the Grand Rounds postings took place on July 31st and August 1st. On Saturday, August 8th, I then visited coffee shops and stores in Harrison and Bryn Mawr and then along Hennepin Avenue from Franklin as far down as 24th Street. The following day, I posted flyers on kiosks at the University of Minnesota and at several commercial establishments near the east-bank campus. On Monday, I was up in the northwest corner of the city visiting places along Penn Avenue between 44th and 36th streets. On the following Saturday, I continued along Hennepin Avenue, covering the stores between 24th and 28th streets on both sides of the street. The next day, I sporadically hit places on Lyndale Avenue around 24th street (including the bulletin board outside the Wedge coop) and then several places near Lake and Chicago.

I might have been tired or have been fearful of talking with people about identity (even though there were no unpleasant experiences); but, more likely, I felt that my time could be put to better use in other ways. This phase of the campaign stopped and another began. We landlord candidates had a trump card to play: plenty of lawn sign locations provided by other landlords, especially those who had bought foreclosed properties.

So that was the emphasis in September. The half-page flyers were kept handy in a brief case in my car, along with thumb tacks and scotch tape. In the course of other business, whenever I passed a laundromat, coffee shop, or another place likely to have a public bulletin board, I would stop the car and see if I could post a flyer. Also, John Butler and Jim Swartwood took some of these half-page flyers (in two different colors) to post in places near their homes. In the end, we must have distributed at least a thousand flyers, but they were not the mainstay of our campaign.

 

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