Welcome to Chicago

 
BY: John Bachtell| July 22, 2005

John Bachtell is CPUSA District Organizer of Illinois.

Good morning comrades!

Who would have thought it? Of all the places the reds could have met in Chicago and we choose the Red Lacquer Room! We couldnt have planned it any better!

On behalf of all the comrades from Illinois, welcome to Chicago! Welcome delegates and guests and members of the Young Communist League from across this beautiful country.

Welcome to the Windy City! A very special and warm welcome to the comrades from our sister parties who have traveled so far in solidarity – this is your home.

Welcome to,

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nations Freight handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling
, City of the Big Shoulders;

Much has changed since Carl Sandberg penned those immortal lines and in the one hundred years since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle and the Wobblies was founded here.

The stockyards, killing floors and packing houses are silent. The giant steel mills and garment shops are still. But Chicago remains a magnificent center of working class struggle and culture, a place where every race and nationality have converged, where scores of languages are spoken, where the rhythms of blues, jazz, salsa, rock, Mariachi and Polka intermingle and blood, sweat and tears flow together. This is the story of our multi-racial, multi-national working class and people in the face of every cunning and despicable effort by the ruling class to divide us.

This is the land of the Illini who named this place. Chicago is a Native American word for stinking garlic. You sit atop what once was a stinking swamp that opened up into the vast and endless prairie. Rest assured capitalism is responsible for any foul odor you smell now.

This is the Land of Lincoln.

This is the city founded by DuSable, the African American fur trader; the city that gave the world May 1st and the 8 hour day movement; the city that molded and was molded by Ida B Wells, Jane Adams, Eugene V. Debs, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Theodore Drieser, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Clarence Darrow, Carlos Cortez, Sandra Cisneros, William Z Foster, Claude Lightfoot, Ishmael Flory, Rudy Lozano, Fred Gaboury and countless forgotten and anonymous ordinary working class heroes and heroines doing extraordinary things.

Like most cities here in the heartland this is a destination of immigrant workers from Europe; of the Great Migration of African Americans from the Deep South; of immigrant workers from Mexico, Central and South America, Puerto Rico, the Middle East, South Asia, China and Korea and elsewhere. Streaming, teeming. Yearning for peace, justice, and equality!

Can you hear them? The voice of the Illini, the Potawatamie and Miamis, the first to raise egalitarian communities on this land – slaughtered and forced into exile. Welcome to this place of our ancestors.

Can you hear them? The voices that couldnt be silenced of Lucy and Albert Parsons and the Haymarket Martyrs. The voices of steelworkers and their families who fought, lost and won in the Great Steel Strike of 1919 and the martyrs of the 1937 Memorial Day Massacre never giving up the fight to organize every worker.

We feel the solidarity of the tens of thousands of health care workers being organized at the giant Advocate and Resurrection Hospitals who in their hearts are saying – we are with you.

Can you hear them? The voices of the 250,000 who filed by the open casket of Emmitt Till to protest southern lynching and racist oppression and those who to this day fight institutionalized racism and segregation, who fight the privatization and dismantling of the public schools they too are saying welcome.

Listen? All the past and present generations of our mighty working class and people are saying carry on brothers and sisters. Great battles lie before us. The working class and people are counting on you in this life and death struggle against a ruthless capitalist class, against Bush and his arrogant right wing gang of liars, fascist creeps, crooks, thugs, racists and war criminals.

You a keeper of the flame. You who are needed more than ever to help unite our class, our communities, our labor movement and people as never before.

You who are needed more than ever in the fight to put an end to the criminal and illegal occupation in Iraq, a war that is opposed by a growing majority of our people.

You needed more than ever to block the Wall Street theft of Social Security and pensions; to redirect the nations resources to putting millions back to work rebuilding our bankrupted cities and towns and away from wasted war making and corporate profiteering; to block the assault on Civil Rights, democratic rights, womens rights, gay and lesbian rights and immigrant rights and to save our environment.

Go forth and multiply! Storm heaven to save earth!

Delegates and guests, welcome home. Just blocks from here on August 31 on Throop St and September 2, 1919 on Blue Island Ave our Party was founded in two parts and later made whole. Born of the great class struggle of the time, it sent a chill up the spine of the ruling class.

In 1924 the Daily Worker set sail from Chicago. Another chill.

Ever since then we have been integrally woven into the tapestry of this city, this state, and this country. Wherever there is an epic struggle then or today to defeat the ultra right your will find us. We are inseparable, indivisible from our people and nations history.

During the Great Depression, the Party had its offices on the near north side in of all places a building we shared with the mob. They occupied the top floor loft and sometimes used it for target practice.

Party organizer Steve Nelson remembered, Every once in a while an irate neighbor would get the floors mixed up and begin banging on the door of the loft, yelling in Polish about evictions and police brutality. The gangsters had a little peephole that they would slide open, and say, The Reds are one floor down.

Weve come along way! Whos been to our beautiful new green offices on Halsted St? Lets recess the convention! We are so proud of them they speak of our vision, our confidence, and optimism in our party, class and the future.

Listen, in the words of Langston Hughes.

Listen, Revolution,

Were buddies, see
Together,
We can take everything;
Railroads, forests, fields, orchards,
Bus lines, telegraphs, radios,
(Jesus! Raise hell with radios!)
Steel mills, coal mines, oil wells, gas,
All the tools of production,
(Great day in the morning!)
Everything
And turn em over to the people who work.
Rule and run em for us people who work.

On that day when no one will be hungry, cold, oppressed,
Anywhere in the world again.

Thats our job!
I been starvin too long,
Aint you?

Lets go Revolution!.

Lets go Communist Party! Let this convention send another chill up the spine of Wall Street and inspiration and hope to workers everywhere. Have a great convention!

 

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