Communist Media: Making the American Promise Real for Everyone

[The following is a speech given on the occasion of the handing over the Communist Party USAs archives to New York Universitys Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, March 23, 2007 in New York City.]

Im so honored to be here. I want to thank the Tamiment Library and Michael Nash for organizing this symposium.

If I were to list only a fraction of the names of the thousands of people who wrote for, or cartooned for or in other ways supported the Daily Worker, Western Worker, Daily World, Peoples World, Voz del Pueblo and now Peoples Weekly World and Nuestro Mundo in short, the Communist press in all its forms during our 83 years of existence wed be here for a long time.

I wish we could have a list of credits rolling by behind me. It would be like watching the credits from an epic film about the working-class struggle for a better world for socialism.

Maybe well ask the good staff here at Tamiment to put such a complete list together.

Right after they get through indexing the one million photos from the Communist press archives. Thats an unbelievable number! 1 million photos one million photos imagine trying to organize them in your photo album.

Proud history, bright future

Our history is a proud one, and our future is bright. We are here. We are fighting. Both the Communist Party and its press have deep roots in American soil, like the prairie grasses in the great Midwest.

We are making the promise of America real for everyone.

As long as corporations plunder and profit, while millions here and around the world go hungry and die of curable diseases, there will be a Communist Party. And as long as capitalism is around theres going to be a Communist Party.

If there is one thing the American people admire, its determination and stick-to-it-ness, and the Communists sure have weathered and survived with gritty determination.

Communists take the long view of life, of struggle and what it takes to make social change. Thats one reason the name of our newspapers publishing company is Long View Publishing.

Taking the long view

We take the long view. And with taking the long view comes responsibility for our future. A future that makes the promise of democracy, of equality for every race and nationality, of men and women, of peace, environmental and economic justice.

But our future is inextricably bound with the present day struggles and circumstances.

Speaking of which, this last month has been particularly uncomfortable for the White House. They havent had such a good time of it with having to take responsibility for the ongoing disaster in Iraq, then Walter Reed and the VA scandal, the Scooter Libby guilty verdict, and now the expose of firing eight prosecutors who wouldnt go along with vote suppression and other dirty tricks, you see some grim faces on the photo wire.

But you know who is looking good these days? John Conyers chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

You know who else is looking good? Al Gore.

Remember back in 2000 when the debate on the left was there was no difference between Gore and Bush? I cant imagine Bush ever fighting to stop global warming let alone being able to explain it.

Back in 2000, the Peoples Weekly World didnt have the attitude of there was no difference between the candidates and we didnt have that attitude toward the trampling of democracy in Florida. We didnt read about it. We sent Tim Wheeler there to report and help with the righteous fight to count every vote. He was distributing leaflets with one hand and taking down quotes with the other.

Importance of the Communist media

The Communist media is indispensable. Not only though our reporting and interviewing the makers of history do we record the movements for social justice and workers rights we are part of the struggles that make history too. We proudly take sides.

We covered and were part of the founding of the CIO, the industrial unions in auto, steel, textile and mines; the struggles against fascism and Jim Crow racism. We helped wage the fight for the freedom of the Scottsboro Nine and we promoted the integration of Major League Baseball. We reported on and participated in the struggles to end the war in Vietnam and such momentous events as the Chicano Moratorium and Dewey Canyon III, organized by antiwar veterans.

We helped expose Reagans dirty wars in Central America, lent a hand to tearing down apartheid in South Africa, marched against corporate globalization, celebrated the first same sex marriages in Massachusetts, reported peoples stories at Ground Zero in New York after 9/11 and at the site of the other great human tragedy New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. And last year, week by week, we chronicled the issues and struggles that led to the great labor and peoples victory in November.

And we are continuing the campaigns: to ending the Iraq War; passing the Employee Free Choice Act; rebuilding the Gulf Coast; guaranteeing comprehensive immigration reform with a path to legalization, family unification, workers and civil rights; health care for all and a new civil rights agenda. Again, we not only report on but are a part of these struggles and have a stake in helping them succeed.

And if youre not a subscriber, this is what you are missing. But lucky for you you can subscribe tonight or online at .

On Iraq we got it right

Back in 2002 the Peoples Weekly World began to sound the alarm on Iraq. At that great march in NY on Feb. 15, 2003, our headline was Powell at UN, caught in web of lies. If a little newspaper like ours could get that story, why couldnt the New York Times?

International solidarity

We have written from and about the great and revolutionary happenings in Venezuela and South America. We build the Cuba solidarity movement and demand an end to the blockade and for normalized relations and freedom for the Cuban Five through our reporting and analysis. We take part in the great struggle for internationalism and to stop the U.S. government and corporations from waging war and plundering natural resources around the world.

Roots of Communist journalism

Communist journalism traces its roots to the great tradition of public advocacy journalism and the independent media in this country independent of corporate interests and reactionary agendas.

This tradition goes back to our nations founding and first revolution with the publication of Tom Paines Common Sense to the second revolution the end of slavery and the great abolitionist press of Douglass and Garrison, along with the womens suffrage movement which had its own voice.

We are part of the great freedom-of-the-press tradition.

We are part of the great labor journalism tradition, the Black press, Spanish and other languages press, student and community newspapers. We are part of the left, progressive, Marxist, populist, freethinking and radical media traditions of this country.

And while being part of this great tradition, we are part of the future. The Peoples Weekly World is part of the new and growing media justice movement that is challenging monopoly corporate control of information and point of view. And most importantly, we are one of the 4,500 Google news sources. And we are proud members of the Newspaper Guild Communication Workers of America.

Intersection of past and future

This moment is an intersection of past and future. These archives were donated to this grand library because of the responsibility we felt for the future, not only the Communist Partys and the Peoples Weekly Worlds future, but the future of the working-class, left and socialist movements.

By making these archives accessible to the public through the work of these talented librarians students, unionists, academics and historians can study and learn from previous generations. They can then do something great with this knowledge write books, produce films and in other ways bring to the public the rich, diverse and beautiful Peoples History of the United States.

Those who study the archives will surely spot some mistakes, some foibles. After all, Communists are human, and we do err. We have this little saying in the newspaper biz: Doctors bury their mistakes, we publish ours.

But even with all of that our history, our present and our future will stand as a beacon of inspiration.

As the great labor and Communist Party leader Elizabeth Gurley Flynn once said:

History has a long-range perspective. It ultimately passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates those who fought, suffered, were imprisoned and died for human freedom against political oppression and economic slavery.

And thats what you will find in our archives. Thank you.