The movement for a better world lost a committed comrade and friend, Saturday, February 23 when Sheridan Talbott of Southern Illinois took his last breath.
Growing up, as Sheridan often said, on the wrong side of Lafayette Street in Mobile, AL in the Jim Crow South, his desire to understand his world and what Walter Cronkite said on the evening news led him to work three jobs at a time, as he studied for a degree in Philosophy, graduating from the University of South Alabama. He entered Southern Illinois University at Carbondale as a PhD candidate, with the intent of studying Marxism under Doug Allen, whose contract was terminated over his criticism of the Center for Vietnamese Studies. Sheridan went on to complete his Master’s Thesis on Marx, only to leave SIU-C in protest over changes in their doctoral requirements. A man of principle, he never looked back.
Always a staunch fighter for peace, equality and social justice, Sheridan returned to Mobile, AL and entered a labor-intense factory. He earned the respect of those he worked with and they fondly called him “Fess” as he taught while he fought. Penning an article for the People’s Tribune titled “Slave Labor in Alabama,” he was able to distribute the paper to 10% of the workers, which influenced and united both white and Black workers to fight for control of their union in their own defense. He also helped to build the Equal Rights Congress, serving as editor of their paper for a time.
After moving to Chicago in 1978, he went to work as the PR person for Vanguard Books. He enjoyed traveling from coast to coast, setting up authors’ parties and attending book fairs. He especially loved learning about local histories and became quite knowledgeable on labor struggles, especially here in Southern Illinois, where he returned to live in 1981.
As the jobs began disappearing here in the ‘80’s, Sheridan used his carpentry skills to eke out a living, often forced to go on the road to find work. He never lost his focus and he never hesitated to distribute the People’s Tribune wherever he went, talking to anyone who would listen about the necessity for replacing this system with one that meets the needs of the people.
After hanging up his tool belt, he became a substitute teacher, primarily for the Herrin School District. He loved imparting his knowledge of history, science, and literature to the youth. He joined the League of Revolutionaries for a New America in 2007, and up until his death, he was teaching those around him. His most recent contribution was his participation as a co-host on ‘Occupy the Airwaves’ radio show on WDBX in Carbondale. Even though he struggled to walk and breathe, he mustered up the energy to go on air as often as he was able.
He is survived by his wife, Cathy, five children, son-in-law, and grandson.
Memorials can be made to the People’s Tribune. PO Box 3524, Chicago, Il 60654-3524 or to WDBX Radio at 224 N. Washington St. Carbondale, IL 62901.