THE PASSING OF ONEIL MARION CANNON; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 15
(Extensions of Remarks - January 30, 2017)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E102-E103]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                            HON. KAREN BASS

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Monday, January 30, 2017

  Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to honor the life and memory of 
my friend and mentor, Oneil Marion Cannon, who passed away on January 
20, days before his 100th birthday.
   Oneil was born in Louisiana on January 28, 1917. He began early to 
fight against injustice. As a young insurance agent in New Orleans, he 
joined an office workers union, and he defied miscegenation laws to 
associate with white students at Tulane and Dillard Universities. He 
served honorably in the Pacific Theatre during World War II and settled 
with his wife and children in Los Angeles after his discharge. There he 
learned the printing trade on the GI Bill. He believed all his life in 
collective action, and fought to become the first African American 
member of the Printer's Union in Los Angeles.
   Union membership, however, did not guarantee him work in that 
segregated industry, so he started his own print shop in the basement 
of the progressive Black newspaper The Eagle. Fidelity Educational 
Press became known as the ``union printer to the left,'' producing 
leaflets, journals, and brochures for community groups, activists and 
churches. Oneil taught the printing trade to generations of printers in 
South Los Angeles. His passion for education further led him to fight 
for ``Negro History Week'' in L.A. schools, and to take an active part 
in the multi-year struggle for a junior college in South L.A. That 
battle culminated in the opening of L.A. Southwest College in 1967.
   In 1985 he co-founded the Paul Robeson Center, which quickly became 
a community hub. For years it pursued its mission of seeking 
interracial and intercultural understanding. Oneil was instrumental in 
supporting my own work as a community organizer early in my life, and 
without his help my life would have taken a very different path.
   Deeply involved in politics, Oneil belonged to the Independent 
Progressive Party and campaigned to put Henry Wallace on the ballot in 
the late 1940s. As part of the IPP, he used economic power to force 
employers to hire Black and Mexican American workers, using the slogan 
``don't bank or buy where you can't work.'' He worked for decades to 

[[Page E103]]

representatives of color to office, including Tom Bradley, Ed Roybal, 
and even campaigning at age 90 for Barack Obama.
   I would like to salute Oneil Cannon for his longstanding commitment 
to serving and uplifting others, and for a century of fighting to make 
the world a better place.