A Challenge for the People

Light Up the Sky with the Red Flag--Live Like Damián García

Springtime blooms with life. Each flower brings a new image full of hope and promise.

There’s one image that fills my heart with great joy and a lot of pride. It’s an image that raises our sights to a better and radically different future for humanity. It’s an image that points to the possibility of lifting the weight of thousands of years of oppression and exploitation off our backs.

It’s an image of revolutionary courage and love for the people. It’s an image of Comrade Damián García scaling the walls of the Alamo--a hated symbol of the bloody conquest and plunder--and standing, defiant, with a brilliant red flag flying against the backdrop of the San Antonio sky.

On that day, March 20, 1980, Damián García and two other revolutionaries climbed to the top of the Alamo, threw down the Texas flag, and raised in its place the red flag of the international proletariat. Damián told the entire world: “We've come to set the record straight about the Alamo. This is a symbol of the theft of Mexican land, a symbol about the murder of Mexicans and Indians, and a symbol of oppression of Chicanos and Mexicanos throughout the whole Southwest." And he called on people, together with the proletariat worldwide, to come out in struggle on May First, International Workers Day.

In 1836 the Alamo, a Mexican garrison in San Antonio, was seized by Anglo slave owners and traders and mercenaries who had settled illegally in Texas and were waging a war to secede from Mexico (where slavery had been abolished). They were soon defeated by the Mexican Army who took back the Alamo, killing all 182 Texan defenders. A few weeks later, the Anglo forces took the Mexican army by surprise in a battle where they shouted “Remember the Alamo” to justify their massacre. Every since then, a myth has been promoted about the “heroes” of the Alamo, and “Remember the Alamo” has been a call for vicious vengeance against the enemies of the U.S. But the reality is that the “heroes” of the Alamo--like Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William B. Travis--were land speculators, mercenaries, and slave traders and smugglers.

Later, through an unprovoked war of aggression, the U.S. stole half of Mexico (now the U.S. Southwest). The U.S. signed a treaty that promised rights to Mexican people who remained in these territories, but this treaty was never intended to be followed. The result has been a long history of brutal subjugation and oppression of Mexicanos, Chicanos, and other people--and a border that expresses the U.S. domination of Mexico.

Damián’s life concentrated this experience for Chicanos and Mexicanos living in the Southwest. He grew up in the projects of San Bernardino, California, and watched his Mexican father get denied job after job because of the color of his skin. Damián grew up being looked down upon and humiliated. Like many youth, Damián was always trying to find a way out.

Damián graduated from UC Santa Barbara. In the mid-‘70s he was the executive director of La Casa de la Raza--but Damián wanted more. He hooked up with the Revolutionary Communist Party, and he dedicated his life--not just to the liberation of his raza--but to the liberation of all of humanity. He came to see that he was part of an international class of people--of different nationalities, cultures and languages--whose labor produces tremendous wealth that gets stolen by a small class of capitalist-imperialists.

Damián had come to see that humanity, with all its knowledge and technology, had reached a point in its development where things did not have to be this way. He had come to take up communist revolution as the solution to the tremendous inequalities and lopsidedness that exists.

And he had become part of building for May Day actions in 1980 to raise the red flag and declare that our struggle is an international struggle and we are part of the world revolution. He saw that a whole different world was possible--a communist world.

With the bold action atop the Alamo, Damián gave voice to the millions here in the U.S. and billions around the world for whom reality is hell on earth under this capitalist nightmare. The ruling class was deeply stung by the raising of the red flag and the inspiring internationalist stance taken on top of that decrepit symbol of oppression. And they lashed back with a vengeance typical of their Alamo myth. On April 22, 1980, while building for May Day and doing revolutionary work among the masses in a Los Angeles housing project, Damián was assassinated by police agents.

His death was a tremendous loss felt by many in society. A Black prisoner in an Atlanta city jail dedicated a poem that began: “Damián García is Dead. But in His Death I Came Alive.”

Twenty-six springs have passed since that red San Antonio day.

I’m restless that by the end of today, forty thousand children will die from starvation and preventable and curable disease in the Third World.

I’m restless after hearing Bob Avakian on the “Ghetto Remix” song speak of all the beautiful children in this society who are full of life and so much promise when they’re young, but get robbed of it by what this system does to them as they grow a little older.

I can imagine how Damián García felt, also restless.

There are millions today agonizing over the direction that this society and the whole world is headed in. Right now, a challenge is posed for all those who hunger for an end to this horrific epoch. This is a challenge that thousands and ultimately millions, including the new generation, must take up--the challenge to come forward and be emancipators of humanity. The challenge to get down with and apply the communist world outlook, method and approach and fight to radically transform the world. A challenge to light up the sky with the red flag--to live like Damián García.

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