The Struggle for African American Equality: Today’s Challenges

May 14, 2005

(This report was delivered by phone conference to CPUSA clubs in March 2005)


First I want to thank Sam for his initiative and the Nation Board for organizing this special presentation on the important question of the struggle for African American equality.

I hope this opening will lay the basis for a rich discussion in your clubs tonight and an ongoing discussion in the entire party. Most importantly I hope it will lead to more effort to improve our work, influence and membership among African American people. That is the point. We should see the 28th convention of our party as a opportunity to greatly strengthen our partys presents in the movement for African American equality

The movement of the African American people for full social economic, and political equality has always played a decisive role in the over all struggle for democracy and socialism.

This is a qualitative question. The party cannot successfully reach its goals without a strong presence of African American membership.

From the early days of this republic the issue of slavery was no small matter it affected weather this nation would go forward or not. Today with the theft of the elections and the poverty and inequality growing worse.. With four more years of Bush and the political momentum of the extreme rightwing, which has led to war, an increase in racism, and worsening conditions of life for all working people especially the racially and nationally oppressed, the challenges and the danger are very great.

As in the past the courageous movements of the African American people in alliance with the working class and all oppressed are a key force and have a leading role to play to bring the disastrous policies of Bush to and end and advance the struggle for peace, economic and social justice.

Leading role of African American Peoples Movement

When I speak of a leading role one has to look at the last election and see the special contribution of African American voters. Despite major efforts to suppress the black vote, which had some impact, African Americans registered in record numbers and came to the polls and voted 89% against Bush and a very high percentage against his supporters in Congress. African American voters voted against Bush at a higher percentage then any other group of voters.

What are the factors that made it possible for African Americans to vote almost unanimously against Bush? Why was there such a high level of unity among black voters? I do not have all the answers to those questions but it is clear to every one that black people do not like Bushs policies. But I think the high degree of rejections was because of other more basic factors.

One maybe that African Americans have a long history of fighting for the right to vote and using that right to fight for their freedom. And while every generation of youth has to be won to this idea it is deeply imbrued in the spirit of the people.
Every one over 35 was alive when the fire hoses and dogs and racist mobs tried to stop the civil rights upsurge of the 60s. This wasnt just a fight for a hamburger; it was basically a fight for freedom.

It was this legacy of struggle, that actually goes back to slavery and the resistance, that ultimately was key to bringing down the system then and this legacy of struggle helps us today and will help us tomorrow as we fight for an end to racial and national oppression.

I think it is also important that African Americans have a high working class composition (90%) and a high trade union membership (20% of all black workers). One third of all African Americans who work are employed in the public sector. When they speak of shrinking the government this has a very sharp racist edge.

African Americans are oppressed as a national group meaning all class strata are subjected to racism and inequality, even the wealthy. But who suffers the most and who is leading this fight for freedom and against Bush, African American workers especially organized workers. When you look at the internal class dynamics of the African American people the working class is not only numerically larger but is much more politically organized then the upper stratum. This is a feature that must be fought for and preserved if there is to be struggle and progress.

You know Bushs people did make some inroads among church people and the rising middle and upper class of African Americans. One study shows that in Ohio black votes for Bush doubled from 2000, which gave him 90,000-vote increase from Black voters. After his suppression of the anti Bush black votes in that state he ended up with a 120,000-vote victory.

This was largely due to the role of his so-called Faith Based Initiative which is basically an effort to privatize social services. The Bush administration gave millions of dollars to Black Ministers in battle ground states using the issues of Gay marriage, abortion and also the war to mobilize their congregations to vote against their own interest. And I think, If it worked with black churches with their traditions of anti racism you can see how it worked with white middle class conservative congregations. I am challenging that racism was the main factor on how Bush won over new voters. I think we have to mention this effort of Bush to win black votes by bribing preachers may be one of the greatest violations of the miss use of public monies by an incumbent President running for to reelection.

The Bush campaign also made inroads with sections of the rising middle class and professional African Americans. They were won over by the war, the tax cuts and cutting social programs. We are talking about years of right wing propaganda from Reagan to now. That has had an influence among the so-called upwardly mobile blacks who think nobody works hard but them and thats why they are successful and other African Americans are failures because they dont work hard ect.. Weve heard this line a million times. And it has an impact on a certain middle stratum I dont think Bush could have gotten any where near the majority of middle class black votes but he made in roads.

This means that if the black workers along with their trade union sisters and brothers had not been in this struggle ion a massive way the out come could have been far worst. The word landslide comes to mind.

My point is that African Americans are a national group; a group that has a national identity, a common history and culture, which has been formed over centuries of oppression and struggle. As a racial minority all class stratum of Black people suffers from national oppression but those who are workers and small farmers also suffer from class oppression and as a result experience the sharpest edge of the oppression.

When you look at the whole picture and everything that was throw against the black vote it is amazing that 89% came out and voted. This was a tribute to the leadership of black worker and the multiracial US working class in general. This we must never lose sight of.

The Profoundly Painful Experience of US Slavery

The slaves were human beings reduced to commodities. US slavery was worse then ancient Greek and Roman slavery because it was forged onto the developing US capitalism.

Under US Slavery you were a slave for life. It was illegal to learn to read and write. They took away your birth right to have a family. Unlike in ancient slavery slaves here could not married; they had not parental rights. Their children, by law, were the property of the slaveholders and could be sold off anytime without warning or permission from their mother and father.

Slave women suffer the ultimate sexual harassment on the job. They had not right to refuse or resist (Strom Thurman). If a slave resisted, or ran away or didnt work hard enough to suit his owners they faced the most brutal forms of violent punishment. The slaves had no more rights then farm animals had. This was slavery under capitalism. The most inhuman form of slavery human kind had known up to then.

US slavery was a immoral system that was legal. It was, enforced by brutality, intimidation, terrorism, and extreme cruelty. It was a holocaust for African people. DuBois made the point that many millions died in the capture and transporting of Slaves to the new world.

While the slaveholders presented themselves as refined, civilized, Christians they were really a parasitic class that lived off the inhuman treatment of fellow human beings. They rationalized their depravity with racism, religion, greed and extreme ignorance. Slavery was a system that relied on terror to exist and the greatest terrorists of that day were a part of the slaveholding class.

The great W.E.B. DuBois in his epic work Black Reconstruction, wrote, as reprinted in the PWW,
The significance of slavery in the United States to the whole social development of American lay in the ultimate relations of slaves to democracy.

The slaves, acting on their own behalf, were the most consistent abolitionists. The slaves did resist and because they resisted it forced a crisis; a moral, economic eventually a political crisis and with the abolitionist movement a movement that included freed blacks, they sharpened the confrontation between northern capital and southern slavery. Northern capital wanted a unified national economy. The Southern slave owners wanted to spread slavery through out Mexico and the southern hemisphere. The Southern secessionist actually thought that slavery would be a better system of labor for northern factories as well. They foolishly though it would end the conflict between employers and labor. (Wm. Z, Fosters The Negro People)

The northern capitalist had to stop the spread of slavery. They wanted to build a modern nation with an economy based on industry, finance and commerce. Slavery held it back. Slavery was the basis for the primitive accumulation of capital for US capitalism but it became an obstacle to capitalisms further development.

It took a civil war to defeat slavery and when the slave system was defeated, (John Ashcroft, who doesnt agree that the Civil wars was necessary) this country took an enormous step toward democracy.

The struggle to end slavery was nothing less then a battle for the soul of the nation; for its destiny and survival.

Fredrick Douglas profound words, There is no progress without struggle were written precisely about the struggle to end slavery and because the slaves resisted and struggles and there was movement against slavery it forced a crisis which resulted in the war and the ultimate defeat of slavery. It also shaped a certain democracy outlook; a culture of struggle and resistance among African Americans.

About 600,000 Africans were imported into the US during the slave trade the rest were literally bred here.

At the peak of the slave trade about 30,000 Africans a year survived the horrors of the middle passage and landed on these shores.

In 1800, Blacks were about 20% of the population of 5 million. By 1807 the slave trade was outlawed. But it continued illegally.

The civil war stated in 1861 with the confederate soldiers firing on Fort Sumter. The Civil War was the bloodiest and the longest war in the history of the US causing more casualties (almost 500,000, majority from the north) then any other war before or since. It literally tore this country apart.

Ex-slaves and freed blacks fought and died in that war. They lived through the success of reconstruction or the new Democracy. We Marxist considered the overthrow of slavery as the completion of the Bourgeois Democratic Revolution. The slaves survived the Hayes Tilden betrayal of 1877. That and ushered in a new era of Jim Crow (US Apartied) which was enforced by the lynch rope-KKK terrorism

How African Americans survived this horror for so long; how our ancestors were able to figure out how to struggle for freedom under conditions that were fascist like can only be imagined. The southern racist had a lot in common with the Nazi and they held back democratic change for the entire nation for decades.

When you think about it the US was late in achieving some very basic democratic norms. The American Revolution was in 1776. Slavery was not made illegal until 1863. Women could not vote until 1920. Segregated schools where not outlaw until 1956 by law (and are still segregated). Jim Crow in public accommodations was not declared illegal until 1964. and the voting rights act was not passed until 1965. You are talking 80 to 90 Years of hell. As a child visiting the South I saw that system up front and it was frightening.

How did they survive? The simple answer is like all oppressed people throughout the world through perseverance and through organizing themselves in their communities and churches and fraternal organizations labor unions, civil rights groups and schools, they struggled; under legal and illegal conditions they struggle and they survived. And that experience is how they knew the great danger of Bush and how to act against him.
Comrades, we face four more years and the stakes are very high. But what comes to mind is a very important quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, he said, Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, we were here. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. That is the outlook that made survival possible and will carry the struggle through today.

The African American People Today

Today according to the US Census those who were either African American or listed black and one other race number 38.7 Million or 13.3% of the US population.

Out side of Latinos, they are the largest National minority in the country. Based on Census Bureau projections since the black population is growing at a faster rate then the overall rate, by 2050 African Americans will reach 61.4 million or 15% of the US population overall. At that point this nation counting the growth of Latinos and other racial minorities will be a majority non-white. In the document on the national question, I spoke of what that will mean in terms of the struggle against racism.

Where do black folks live?

A growing majority of African Americans (55%) now live in the South. The state with the largest black population is New York State with over 3.6 million. Four other states have black populations over 2 million, Florida, California, Texas and Georgia. Mississippi has the largest proportion of blacks in the country (37%), with Louisiana (33%), South Carolina (30%)percentage Georgia and Maryland at 28% and Alabama at 27%.

Cook County Illinois has the largest Black population of any county in the US, 1.4 million. Los Angeles California has a Black population exceeding 1 million.

Economic Conditions

Almost all of the nations largest working class centers have a substantial presence of black workers.

Nearly every speech that Bush makes he declares his intention to spread his style freedom all over the world. Of course the world has largely rejected this and sees it as a cover for imperialist policies.

Economic conditions

One important reason is when you look at economic conditions faced by African /Americans it exposes the false picture that Bushs is trying to confuse people with. Many people around the world still judge the status of American democracy by how they treat African Americans and other minorities. As a point of departure, I want to say something that we dont say enough, freedom and capitalism, capitalism and democracy, are not synonyms, in fact they are at war with each other.

The poverty rate for African Americans is 24.4% or more then twice the 10% rate for whites. The median income for black American household is $30,000 as compared to $48,000 for non-Hispanic white households. When you compare black income to the income in two of the riches counties in the country for example Somerset County in New Jersey, and Howard County in Maryland each has a median household income of $89,298 or more then 2 times larger.
The unemployment rates show a similar pattern of economic racism. A recent report that showed unemployment among black men in NYC at 50% exposed the depth of economic crisis facing African Americans in the big cities. While Bush talks about recovery the crisis is deepening in the black community.

While the unemployment rate fluctuates with the ups and downs of the economy over the last four decades the black unemployment rate has remained about double that of whites. These days it is edging up to 2 times the rate for whites.
It is now in the neighbor hood of 12%. For African American Urban youth it is probably closer to 60% while its 20% for white youth. The unemployment rate in the African American community is at depression levels.

Presently a majority of African American children are living near or in poverty. Hunger among racial minorities including children is a growing national scandal.

There is a racial disparity in housing, education and healthcare. This along with the governments use of drugs and the police to destabilize and destroy black communities has led to a shorter life span for African Americans. The gentrification of established African American communities does not redevelop that communities for the residents but is designed to remove them for higher income whites usually. This has had a damaging affect. It uproots families and destroys the vital political power centers of the African American working people.

A recent study by Cornell and Washington University shows that shows that 91% of African Americans who reaches the age of 75 has experienced poverty. These are the results of structural and systemic racism directed at the African American people.

On Democracy

The most glaring reflection of the racist repression against African Americans is the fact the while African Americans are 13% of the population, they are 50% of those in prison. In the state of Maryland, while African Americans are 28% of the population they are 71% of the states prison population. And all over the country even in states were African American are a small portion of the population they are usually a large percentage of the prison population. And the treatment we saw at Abu Graib and Guantanimo has been practiced for years in US prisons.

Under US capitalism racial oppression has been a reality for 400 years. The treatment of racial and national minorities in this country shows that democracy under US capitalism is in fact deeply flawed. While this administration goes around the world calling for free elections, in the last two presidential election the Bush Administration, their campaigns and the Republican Party have organized and financed a secret effort to suppress the votes of the opposition especially the votes of African Americans. Tens of millions of Americans question the outcome of those elections and accuse Bush, and his cohorts of stealing the presidency. The question on the minds of people all over the world is, how does this administration go around the world claiming to be for free elections when their actions show that they are clearly not for them here?

The Bush administration is at war with civil rights. They have removed Mary Francis Berry a courageous fighter for equality and against racism from the US Commission on Civil Rights and replaced her with Bush appointees including Abigail Tornstrom who is a supporter of Social Darwinism and fundamentally believes that Black people are inferior sociologically which is the other side of the other side of the same coin that says that black people are inferior biologically. So we now have a civil rights commission that is dominated by people who are basically against affirmative action that means they are opposed to civil rights enforcement and implementation. The same approach dominates the Supreme Court. And if Bush has his way he will appoint a majority of racist judges to the federal courts. In 2007 the Voting Rights Act is up for renewal. If he is not politically defeated in office, Bush could set back civil rights 40 years.

New Demographics
A recent NY Times article (Feb. 21, 2005) revealed an interesting new development. It was entitled, More Africans Enter US Than in Days of Slavery

The growth is quite remarkable since 1990 the increase is 167%, from the Caribbean its 67%. This does not come close to the immigration of Latinos but it does present a new dynamic to the question of the African American people. As we know the only black US Senator is the son of an African immigrant. That is Barrack Obama. He is a progressive and many from Africa are progressive and will be drawn to our party. We must welcome them warmly. But it also raises the necessity to reach out and support their struggles. Like police brutality in NY. Most dramatically, it raises the issue of the crisis in Africa with 29 million HIV and the crisis in Darfu and Rwanda, the Congo, with genocidal wars, starvation, hunger and the necessity to act in solidarity, especially against the role of the US imperialism on that continent.

Black Labor Alliance

Key to building the African American freedom movement is the strategic relationship with labor.

Over 90% of Black Americans are working class and 2.5 million Black are in the US labor movement. In fact one out of five Black workers (20%) are unionized. There is a long standing working alliance between the trade union movement and the African American liberation movement. That alliance has been mutually beneficial. Obviously black workers have played a key role in bringing about and maintaining this relationship.

Organizations like The Coalition of Black Trade Unionist (CBTU) are invaluable in building the alliance. Black churches are part of this coalition as well as, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the last election every where you went in the battle ground states you saw large numbers of black union workers giving their all in the effort to educate and mobilize voters. This strategic alliance is key to moving the whole democratic movement forward.

In the post election there are even more issues of struggle that unite African Americans and labor. The policies of George W. Bush have raised the necessity to build, new and broader coalitions on in general.

From social security and rejecting Bushs nominees to the federal judges, the coalitions are developing. In 2003 Bill Lucy, the head of CBTU, referred to Bushs re-nominations of Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen to the US Court of Appeals 5th Circuit, as bold, in your face politics of arrogance and insensitivity. And that is the style of the current administration in your face racism and the only answer to that is in their face united street heat. That is what we are working for.

Bushs Racist Policies; In Your Face Racism

This subject of racism and poverty is serious enough to have built the entire state of the union address around but George W. Bush never even mentioned it. The only mention of African Americans was something about needing more education and this comes from the president who has under funded education more then any other president in memory. And who could use a whole lot of education himself.

Heres what Bush said, Now we need to focus on giving young people, especially young men in our cities, better options than apathy, or gangs, or jail. Tonight I propose a three-year initiative to help organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young men an ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence.(2005 State of the Union)

He then announced that Laura Bush was going to head up this effort to preach to urban youth to reject gangs etc. This is what is so racist about Bush. He is an pathological blame the victim racist.
And on National Public Radio the other day, Mrs. Bush expressed the same themes, .’We believe the stereotypes that boys can be self-reliant, that boys don’t cry,’ she adds. ‘And the fact is, all young children — boys or girls — and all adolescents do need a lot of support and a lot of nurturing from their parents and their teachers and the whole community.’

Let asked the First Lady something, loud and clear, How about a job Laura?

There is nothing like well-funded public schools, access to college and good paying jobs with a future to solve the problem of youth gangs.
But he is sending Laura Bush out to preach to the Crips and the Bloods. It would be laughable if it werent such a shame.. Isnt this todays equivalent of Nancy Reagans just say no campaign in the 80s? While she was saying that Ollie North was pushing Crack Cocaine in the ghettos and barrios to pay for the Contras in Nicaragua And we ended up with 1 million black males in prison.

The Bush program should be rejected; its the same old racism and deception as before. The facts are that the conditions of our youth are a national disgrace. With sixty percent unemployment and the highest rates of incarceration of any other group of youth what we need is a national effort to save black youth by guan teeing decent education, jobs and peace.

The same goes for Bushs phony Social Security reform. . It is more in your face racism. How dare Bush use the mortality of Blacks to rationalize his effort to take their social security away? African Americans use and need Social Security more then any other group. African Americans are 11% of the work force but they are 18% of people using Social Security.

In fact Bush should be held accountable for creating and maintaining the conditions that cause the shorter life span among African Americans.
Under his watch the number of African Americans who have lost their health care has gone up and so has infant mortality and cancer rates among blacks. The one million spending time in prison does not contribute to the health of African Americans. Most of them are in prison because harsh drug laws and the racist courts.

These are all things that Bush could change but he would rather fund the bloody occupation in Iraq, star wars and more US weapons of mass destruction. We already have more then the entire rest of the world put together has.

Real Morality
And these are moral questions of the highest order. In my opinion, the most important form of morality is social morality; concern for your fellow human beings.

I think of the attitudes of drug dealers and users. Once they are hooked they all have the same speech, Im gonna to get what I need and I dont care about any body else. You hear that over and over again. They will commit all manner of mayhem to get what they want. They have no social responsibility, not social values. To me that is the same thinking thats in most big capitalist corporation and in the White House. If its good for global capitalism, they dont care what horrible consequences it caused, to the worlds people including the American people. For example, millions are infected with HIV around the world especially in Africa and here as well. US drug companies have the antiretroviral drugs needed but they wont make them available because it will cut into their high rates of profits. Millions will die. Is this not a moral question?

Karl Marx pointed out that when economic conditions become destructive of human life and the government does nothing to correct those conditions, this is social murder. He wrote about that I believe in his discussing of the conditions of the English Working Class. For our party, putting greed and profits before people is the highest expressions of immoral.

A head of Columbia Universitys Earth Institute, Jeffery Sachs, in his new book, The End of Poverty, points out, 8 million people die a year because they are too poor to survive and with little help they could not only survive but thrive.
They talk about individual responsibility but we ask the question, where is the individual responsibility to humanity in the corporate boards rooms; and high government circles; where is their concern for the well being of humanity?

With years of the right wing dominance of our politics and culture a virulent form of Capitalist individualism even Social Darwinism has taken hold. Social Darwinism meaning that people are the way they are and their achievements or lack of achievements are pretty much decided at birth. Social programs or government welfare therefore, cannot change them. So you dont need these programs they are a waste of money. You dont need enforcement of civil rights for that matter because you cant change people. The Nazi believed in it. Its really a of fascist ideology
All of this is very dangerous and quite immoral. It is the thinking that is behind privatization and destroying the social safety net. And racism dear comrades, racism is implicit in all of their policies. This calls for a organized struggle against racism.

Bushs Color blind society is blind to racism and opposed to all measure to end racism.

Trends in the African American movement

I think the last election experience is an arena to assess where the movement is. My starting point is that the 89% was achieved through the labor African American alliance. And we should be in praise of this. Most of the Black left was a part of this great fight to defeat Bush, win the peace and preserve and advance democracy.

The role of the NAACP, whose membership is around n 500,000 plus, was courageous and out spoken, especially Julian Bond. The Bush administration was so angry about the NAACPs criticisms that they turned the IRS on them. It should be asked, is this an example of Bushs concept of freedom and a color blind society??

CBTU was right in the thick of things last election including supporting local labor candidates some of which came out of the CBTU. There were short-comings that I mentioned and there will be more problems from the faith based forces. They are going to try to create a well-financed right wing trend in the A American community. In the next four years this will be a growing danger.

Black Faces in High Places.
Comrades, Rice, Powell, and Conzalas are there for a reason. Like Clarence Thomas on the supreme court they are there to cover up racism.

It should surprise no one that they are articulate, and nice looking. That is not the point. There are hundreds of able black and Latino leaders who could do those jobs. I think Harry Bellefonte would make a great Sec. Of State and lets make Linda Chavis Thompson the Secretary of Labor, while were at it.

W E B DuBois was a US diplomat at one point. There have always been more than enough qualified people of color out there only a racist would think other wise.

The problem has always been the racism of the government, not the lack of qualification. We dont have to accept every nominee that the government puts up because they are black or Latino. In fact from the point of view of African Americans, I think its an insult to put up a black candidate whose politics are diametrically opposed to the politics of the vast majority of black people. This is what both Bush senior and junior did.

With Rice and the rest its not how they look or how they say things, its what they say and do against the people. . . They are part of the problem. Most African Americans feel little race pride about them because they do not act in our interest. They are instruments of a racist policy. When has Rice spoken out about racism? Never. Powell did on occasion but he was a minority view in that White House and the first chance he got he quit.

Then there are the phonies like Armstrong Williams. He was basically a paid mercenary for Bush. Like that reporter in the White House he was a plant and a phony. Now Williams is saying that he is a victim of racism. I think he should take some personal responsibility for his betrayal and apologize for pushing Bushs racist anti working class policies. Every body knew that No Child Left Behind was a racist policy. And everybody knows that that the Republicans are paying for all of these Judases. Like Bob Johnson former owner of BET he tried to call a secret black summit of Black Capitalist to explore starting a movement to breakaway to the right from the Democratic Party. Julian Bond blew the whole scheme by making it public. But these Judases are not going to give up. The movement must be vigilant.

This is does not exhaust the subject of trends so lets discuss it further. But the peoples forces are in place for the post election struggle and the new attempts to build a right wing presents in the African American community will be defeated.

Our Party and African American People

Our party has a long history of struggle in the African American Liberation Movement We are the party of DuBois, Ben Davis, William L Patterson, Claudia Jones and Henry Winston.

Our comrade Jim Jackson has given our party leadership on this question (and a whole bunch of other questions) for 60 years by my count.

I liked very much that reprint from his book, Revolutionary Tracings in the PWW (2/19/05) entitled Black Liberation and Working-Class Unity. The article does an excellent job of placing the strategic relationship between the struggle for African American freedom and class struggle. Racism in the United States it explains, is sustained and nourished by monopolists in the interest of boosting their profit lust and power greed. Consequently, every blow struck against racism, every advance secured by Black Americans on the way to unqualified equality and freedom, strikes at the system of the ruling power of the monopoly, capitalists. What profound insights. Comrade Jackson is still right on time.

In the next month there will be an effort to honor our comrade Ben Davis. The more I read about Ben Davis, the more I am just in praise of this great comrade. The second African American in NY city council he and Pete did a remarkable heroic job for the working class and oppressed people of this city. He is going to be honored by the people of this city soon I hope. But it makes you so proud to belong to this party when you know the remarkable record of our party. Yes we made mistakes but mainly we made great history.

The role of the great Paul Robeson is unmatched in the history of black people. He may not have joined publicly but this was his party. Everybody knew it. Patterson led the fight for Sacco/Venzetti and Scottsboro.

Henry Winston played an outstanding role in the anti apartheid campaign and the Angela Davis campaign along with Gus Hall, whose book fighting racism is a real contribution.

But that is look back. What about now?

This is what we need to discuss and act on. Our party is not where it should be in visibility in the black community and the composition of our membership in terms of African Americans . We have Triple Concentration policy but it really hasnt been implemented. We have some fine new and old black comrades but the problem is we dont have enough and we are not organized. Our party is really not organized to change that situation.

The thinking in the African American community is not contrary to the partys thinking and program. Yet our growth is too modest and does not fit the times.
I dont think its anti communism although it is always a factor, but I don think its a decisive factor.

You have trade black trade union leader who want public relationships with our party. The same with African American elected officials they are prepared to publicly acknowledge us in their campaigns. And they still win. In fact in most places where we have won public office as communist know or assumed to be, African Americans are often a big part of our constituency. Folks want strong principled leadership and thats our strength.. The same goes for comrades running for trade union office. Workers want our leadership.

The problem we have to deal with is why isnt it reflected in our rate of recruitment of African Americans to our ranks. I dont think its a political problem with our African American contacts and we have the respect and confidence of hundreds of black progressives, leaders and rank and file around the country.

We must be ever vigilant and constantly deal with weaknesses of white chauvinism in our ranks. That is a given. Anti communism is always a factor when it comes to joining the party but I do not think it is decisive. You are dealing with folks who are publicly among the most militant activist.

The reason people arent joining is probably the way we work and how people see themselves in relation to the partys role. But probably the biggest problem is the absents of a concentrated special approach to this problem. Do we ask people? Do we let them know that we would like them to join the party?

The YCL has had some success and I think we need to study them.

What we have learned over the years is recruitment drives in general do not grantee that racially oppressed people will join. Here is what I would suggest for starters.

1. That we reorganize the African American Commission Nationally. We need to bring new people into the work.

2. We need a special building and recruiting drive aimed at African Americans with a special approach to the South.

3. We need to revamp Triple Concentration in several key areas.

4. We need new tools to make us more visible
a. A party pamphlet African Americans and the CP. Including the question of Socialism
b. We need a web link to the work of the African American commission
c. We need to revive the AA column in the Pww
d. We need the better use of PA and more articles on AA equality
e. We need a Journal for longer think pieces to come our twice a year maybe for now.
f. We need web links to our clubs operating in major Black communities

5. We need above all better club life and more work in grass roots. And the leadership needs to pay more attention to our clubs.

6. We need annual conferences to assess our work and draw new conclusions.

7. We need a discussion with the YCL to see how they can help with this campaign.

Before I end let me just say a few words about the struggle against racism. We dont talk enough about it. But every time I get on the Subway it reminds me that each generation has to be won to anti racism. So many people have no knowledge of the civil rights movement they accept racial equality in the abstract and are for fair treatment for every body but they have no ideal how we got were we are today and the battle for civil rights is not over.

We have to be the champions of anti racism as a party and the league.

Our party and League cannot succeed without a many sided struggle against racism as part of every thing we do. Racism is counter revolutionary. It destroys the working class movement. There will be no Socialist transformation of this nation without an all around consistent struggle against racism. For us fighting racism is a principled question. . We believe racism can be defeated because it is contrary to the interest of the working class and the vast majority of our people. We can win this struggle.

Comrades, I do not want to go on much longer but I feel very confident that we can solve this problem and greatly improve our work and increase our African American membership. This is related to our growth among Latinos and whites also. I think as we build for one group it will help build the party in general.

The multi racial composition of our party is a powerful feature and it is in step with our class and people. It is really the ruling class and their flunkies that have really moved to the right and cling desperately to racism and anti communism. If you really think about our recent experiences in the mass movement it shows that levels of consciousness, including class-consciousness is rising. Our main convention resolution and our program talk about that.

To conclude,
I recently had an interesting experience with a major leader of a major civil rights organization. I asked him what he thought about the growth of the Latino population. I said that some are saying that it means that they will challenge African Americans for the meager resources. He thought about it for a few second and said I welcome it that means we have more people to fight racism

Then Joe told me about Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, He was asked by a reporter if he was proud of the fact that 2 Blacks had won major Oscars. And he said, Whats so great about it. Its about time. And then he said, Here we are in LA and in LA you have to try real hard not to hire a Mexican American. Yet no Mexican American won a major Oscar. We have a ways to go yet.

This shows growth of class-consciousness coming from non working class forces. I am confident that the atmosphere is good to build our party. As we build for our 28th Convention lets use step up the battle for African American equality as we move the whole struggle forward.


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