We are heartbroken to learn that our comrade and CUNY movement stalwart Lenny Dick has died at the age of 68. Lenny was a former public school teacher, an adjunct professor of math at Bronx Community College, and an indefatigable champion of the oppressed. He was also a lifelong radical, born into the cause in Brooklyn and never wavering throughout his nearly seven decades. After attending Columbia University, where he excelled in math, chess, poker, and militant takeovers of the school, Lenny went to work teaching the public school students of New York City. In the 1980s the New York City Department of Education stripped him of his teaching license for siding with his students in the Bronx as they walked out to protest grotesque conditions in their school. Lenny was forced to teach in private schools after that but upon retirement excitedly renewed his commitment to the working-class students of New York City, signing on to teach math to students at Bronx Community College, where he became heavily involved in trying to push the Professional Staff Congress in a more militant, activist direction.
As his friend and longtime colleague Glenn Kissack described him:
Lenny was never happier than being in the heat of battle—having rallies on his campus, marching with the PSC against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing anti-war resolutions to the AFT convention, being on the picket line with the strikers at the Stella D’Oro bakery, supporting the parents of Ramarley Graham in their fight to get a measure of justice for their teenage son who had been murdered by the NYPD, going to Hostos College to support events there. Lenny felt deeply about the plight of adjuncts, especially those who were struggling financially.
Lenny’s health became a concern for him in recent years but it didn’t slow him down politically one bit. He was too committed for that. As he told one of us recently, he was “nuts” for politics, for trying concretely to change the world in a more just direction. That was a very Lenny way of putting it and few have walked the walk like he did. Lenny was attending union meetings, organizing rallies, and planning marches and other direct actions literally until the day he died. It was like there was a fire inside of him. All of us who work for a world in which no one is left behind owe something to Lenny and the example he set in terms of unwavering commitment, clear-eyed militancy, and the affability he never failed to bring to the struggles to which he devoted his life. We will remember you, Lenny, and will continue to work for the world you foresaw.