Mark Starr in East Africa & Bulgaria

(News Clippings)

The Lure of Africa Lingers
For Retired Union Official

For Mark Starr of Long Island City the lure of Africa is strong.

“There is a great feeling of space, immensity, and color there,” he says.“I still remember that sign in Queen Elizabeth Park saying, ‘Elephants have right of way.’ Africa gets you.”

After 25 years of service, Starr left his post is [sic] director of the Education Department of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union in 1960 to spend time with friends here and abroad. He found, however, that his energies and talents reduced his leisure to a minimum.

*     *     *

UP TO HIS retirement Starr was active in affairs outside the ILGWU. He was labor educational adviser to Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Japan in 1946, a member of President Truman’s Commission on Higher Education, Chairman of the Queens Liberal Party, and Liberal Party candidate for the City Council, Congress, and the state legislature. In addition, he wrote on labor subjects and lectured at colleges and universities throughout the country.

He has continued to write and lectire and he recently returned from his second six-month teaching tour of East Africa, sponsored by the United Nations’ International Labor Organization.

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STARR RETURNED from Africa in April but his enthusiasm for the work he did there and for the future of the Continent remains high.

To a visitor he is glib with phrases in Swahili, the main dialect of East Africa, and articulate on the economic, social, and political problems of the new African nations. His house contains native African sculpture and the Sunnyside Public Library recently displayed many of his souvenirs.

Starr divided the six months among Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

“Mostly, I taught kindergarten stuff,” he says. “Things like, what is a trade union, and areas where worker and employer have mutual interest in collective bargaining.”

Because of the large farm or peasant population in East Africa, city-based unions are small but important.

*     *     *

THE UNION’S power, however, is curtailed by the government philosophy and economy of the East African nations, Starr says. The leaders and intellectuals lean to the “socialistic-welfare state” and don’t emphasize “free enterprise” and “rugged individualism.”

Starr says often unions can’t strike government-owned industries. And the government can’t introduce welfare measures too rapidly and still hope to attract foreign capital. If the government raises salaries foreign capital might go to nations where wages are lower.

Starr praises the work of the Peace Corps in East Africa, but he feels that “nothing much is said or done against the United States as the United States does against itself.”

He says “the millions spent there go up in smoke because of segregation. Every time there is a demonstration here, it is front page news there.”

Home since April, Starr plans to leave soon for a series of conferences and conventions in Europe.

*     *     *

HIS EXPERIENCES with Swahili and the hundreds of dialects in East Africa strengthened his belief in Esperanto, the international language. He plans to attend a number of conferences on Esperanto in various parts of the world.

Approaching 70, Starr is uncertain about the future except that it will be busy. He would like to return to Africa for the ILO, confident that “the history of the latter half of this century and certainly the next will be constituted by what happens in Africa.”

Fond Memories


SOURCE: “The Lure of Africa Lingers For Retired Union Official,” Long Island Press, July 14, 1963.


Esperantist Returns Home

“Mi vidis multe dum la lastaj tri semajnoj.”

That’s Esperanto for “I’ve seen a great deal of the world in the past three weeks.”

And it describes what Mark Starr of Long Island City, labor educator, lecturer and world traveler, has been doing this summer.

He’s just returned from Sofia, Bulgaria, where he attended the 48th annual Kongreso de la Universala Esperanto-Asocio, or World Congress of Esperanto Associations. Esperanto is a world-wide language.

STARR also visited Hamburg, Germany, where he met with a workers’ Esperanto group, and Vienna, Austria, here [sic] he toured the government subsidized Esperanto archives.

He attended the Sofia meeting as a delegate of the New York Committee of the Esperanto League of North America.

Starr said nearly 3,500 Esperantists from 45 nations attended the meeting including groups from behind the Iron Curtain. Delegates were greeted by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Georgi Traikov, and Sofia’s mayor, Georgi Petkov.

There were meetings of special groups at the congress, including doctors, scientists, teachers, journalists, and various religious groups—all able to converse in the same language.

The educator taught himself the international language during World War I, when he lived in England.



SOURCE: “Esperantist Returns Home,” Long Island Star-Journal, August 20, 1963.

Esperantists Attend
Convo in Bulgaria

By Mark Starr

SOFIA — It has taken this ancient city of Bulgaria more than a week to clear away the banners, flags and slogans used so lavishly to welcome the forty-eighth annual Kongreso de la Universala Esperanto-Asocio held here for the first time recently.

In this city of 800,000, where ancient religcs of Thracian, Roman and Turkish dominations adjoin the mausoleum of Dmitrov (embalmed revolutionary hero of the modern Bulgarian People’s Republic) and modern hotels and apartment houses, over 3,400 Esperantists from 45 countries were officially greeted by Dep. Prime Minister Georgi Traikov, the mayor of Sofia, Georgi Petkov, and other leading officials. The visitors received food and drinks at official banquets and were given free passes on trams and buses.

In the state university and in the new sport palace Universidad they witnessed art festivals, folk dancing, plays and operas; made excursions to the Vitosha mountains and to the ancient monasteries and churches, and took part in business sessions, specialist meetings, lectures and cultural contests. They did this all the better because they all talked the same language and thus escaped the usual barriers of lingual diversity.


As part of the relaxing of tension with the signing of the treaty to limit nuclear tests, the Soviet government for the first time since the war let a delegation of Esperantist Soviet citizens meet there with 15 citizens of USA and with others from many other different lands.

All came at their individual expense for face-to-face contact with fellow human beings. Section meetings of special groups included those of the medicos, geographers, scientists, teachers, journalists, pacifists, the blind, Rotarians, humanists and various religious groups. Concurrent with the general program was a daily seminar of 250 students to acquire the direct method for teaching Esperanto.There was also special sessions confined to the blind and to children.

The daily items of the Kongreso shared the front page of the two official papers with huge manifestoes praising the treaty, criticizing Pekin and making favorable comment upon the current visit of U. S. Sec. Orville L. Freeman. The picture display at U. S. legation drew curious viewers from morn to night.

Huge green and white banners bore the slogan “Unueco estas Forto” and there could be no mistaking the friendly curiousity about USA and the outside world to which the auxiliary language gave expression. Bulgaria has already introduced Esperanto into its high schools and its example will influence other Balkan nations and UNESCO to follow the example.

SOURCE: Starr, Mark. “Esperantists Attend Convo in Bulgaria,” Kenosha Labor, August 29, 1963.

Mark Starr (1894-1985): Labor Educator & Esperantist
Study Guide

Includes all the following & more:

"A Pioneer in Workers' Education: Mark Starr and Workers' Education in Great Britain" by Ronda Hauben

"Mark Starr: Socialist Educator": Interview with Martin Lawn

Mark Starr (1894-1985): Workers' Educationist

Esperanto and Labour (by Mark Starr)

"Organized Labor and the Dewey Philosophy" by Mark Starr

Usona Mozaiko” (1968) de Mark Starr

"La Filozofio de Jozefo Ditsgen" de Mark Starr

The Student Movement vs. . . . Mark Starr? (Kenneth Rexroth)

Esperanto & Laborista Movado / Esperanto & the Labor Movement

Esperanto Study Guide / Esperanto-Gvidilo

Offsite / Alireteje:

Mark Starr - Vikipedio

Communism and an International Language by Mark Starr

A Worker Looks At History by Mark Starr

A Worker Looks At History

Mark Starr @ Ĝirafo

Mark Starr (1894-1985) « Family Connections

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Uploaded 26 November 2013

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