War in America by William Crossman

(Omerta 2018) 19 pages $8.50


When War In America was printed by Arroyo-Sheldon Publishers in 1993, its battle-cry poems became an instant “hit” radical pamphlet—sold at human rights rallies and marches—and quickly disappeared as all copies of the small press run were snapped up. This 25th anniversary edition has those poems, some revised, and newer poems, and an excerpt from the libretto of John Brown’s Truth, William Crossman’s musical of récitatif, improvised music, and dance.

These striking poems reflect a value thread through Crossman’s life that began when, at age two, Bill and his mother left their suburban Connecticut home to follow his father—who had been recruited into the Army at the start of World War II—to camps in the Deep South. After four years in segregated Mississippi, Florida and North Carolina, the family returned to Connecticut and Bill’s first three grades in school, only to quickly return to the South and settle in a seg­regated, whites-only, work­ing-class, south Florida town. For nine years, Bill attended the whites-only public school system, graduating in 1957 before heading North to college. Bill’s daily experiences of racism and white supremacy during those southern years helped to shape his val­ues and life choices. In 1969, Bill decided to leave his position teaching philosophy at Tufts Uni­versity to move to the San Francisco Bay Area to work in solidarity with the Black Pan­thers and the revolutionary Black prisoners’ movement. Through the decades, he’s remained active in anti-imperialist movements and in sup­port of political prisoners. Bill has con­tinued to teach at Bay Area com­munity colleges and universities, and for eight years during the 1990s he taught at historically-Black Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bill continues his decades-long commitment to revolutionary culture via his work as poet, jazz pianist, playwright (including his musical, John Brown’s Truth), and author of writings on the political impact of new technologies on literacy, education, and society.



Crossman in white cap. Photo by Bill Hackwell.