Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was a trying experience for a white boy. Democrats were no longer southerners, and Republicans no longer seemed like the bad guys. America was transitioning from the old politics and entering into its new phase – a phase that is decidedly hostile to white folks, and we young ones felt the brunt of it.
Gordon Baum rode out this transition as best he could, leading the Council of Conservative Citizens through the political fray and into its new, post-European existence; and it was on the other side of the transition that we met.
We were at a Council Conference in Winston Salem.
The best conversations at conferences happen on the smoke deck, so I grabbed a pack and headed out. It was during some popular talk or other, so the deck was deserted except for one old man, smoking away in happy contemplation.
It was Gordon Baum.
We began talking. Our conversation ranged over all sorts of topics. I told him I was thinking of going to law school, and he laughed at me. “Why would you want to do that?! That’s the worst thing you can do!” Thank God for Mr. Baum, else I may have gone down that path and been miserable.
From that time on, we always made a point of having a private smoke whenever circumstances brought us together. And while we spoke mostly of politics and the “movement”, one of the most memorable things he ever said to me was in response to my naive question:
“Do we have any hope, Mr. Baum”? I asked.
“What the Hell do you think we’re doing here, son?!”
Others will write their memories of the man, I’m sure, and others are better suited to document his work and advocacy for our people; but I’ll always remember his answer to that question and the quiet, fiery place in his gut from whence it sprang.
That’s the fire of our folk.
That was Gordon Baum.
God speed you to paradise, Mr. Baum.
You will be missed.