May 1st 1998
Red Flag Celebrations Coast to Coast
Revolutionary Worker #957, May 17, 1998
May First, International Workers Day--Hundreds of people gathered for red celebrations in cities across the United States. From New York to Hawaii, people repeatedly commented how exciting it was to see people of so many nationalities come together. And for such a lofty and daring purpose--liberating humanity! In city after city, banners proclaimed, "We are Human Beings--We Demand a Better World! We Will Not Accept Slavery in Any Form!
A special program was held in New York City to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. Over 170 people packed into Washington Square United Methodist Church and listened intently to a talk by Maoist political economist Raymond Lotta entitled "The Communist Manifesto 150 Years Later: Still True, Still Dangerous, Still the Hope of the Hopeless!" This event included people from Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, Pakistan, India, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Haiti, the Philippines and China, in addition to the different nationalities from the U.S.
Over 150 people attended the the Los Angeles celebration in the Pico Union neighborhood. Looking over the crowd, one brother from Watts remarked that he never thought he would experience such a beautiful scene of unity in his life.
Central to these celebrations--to the speeches, the music and even the food--was the powerful internationalism of the worldwide propertyless class. In Chicago, as people gathered in a sunlit meeting room for a program featuring a speech by RCP spokesperson Carl Dix, they were greeted by music from Ireland, the Andes and U.S. ghetto streets. Behind the podium hung a spraypainted banner of the earth breaking chains of oppression.
In Los Angeles, the People's Artists, a collective of Filipino artists in the U.S., painted a mural for the stage declaring "Workers of the World Unite!"
Support the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement!
Support People's Wars Around the World
It was standing room only as over a hundred people packed into Berkeley's Revolution Books. The speaker from the Revolutionary Communist Party told the crowd, "We're here tonight to send a red embrace to all the revolutionary workers and peasants around the world who, like us, are struggling to bring our dream of a better world into reality." In every gathering across the U.S., that same sentiment was manifested in the powerful support for the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and for those who have dared to rise, with arms in hand, to wage people's wars for liberation. In city after city, speakers touched on the importance of the revolutionary wars waged by the Communist Party of Peru and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)--both participating organizations in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.
At the Berkeley celebration, Heriberto Ocasio of the Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru (CSRP) said: "Today in Peru the people are celebrating May 1st by carrying forward the heroic People's War. They're doing it by going up against one of the most vicious counter-insurgencies that's been unleashed by the U.S. and its puppets.... People are carrying forward the People's War in the shantytowns and in the countryside--maintaining and fighting to defend the base areas, the new people's power in the countryside..."
A correspondent from Los Angeles said the crowd there was thrilled by a report on the April 6 general strike led by Maoists in Nepal.
An exciting feature of May Day events this year was the participation of revolutionary and progressive Filipino organizations. In Los Angeles, supporters of BAYAN International spoke to the May Day gathering and displayed an exhibit of photos showing life in the guerrilla zones of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
In Chicago, an activist from the Committee on Philippine Issues and the League of Filipino Students read a statement of solidarity saying: "It is in this year, 1998, that the national democratic forces of the Philippines in and out of the country, celebrate the 100th year of their struggles against U.S. imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism."
In Detroit, one sister described the crimes committed by the U.S. military against women in the Philippines, and challenged people to act against such oppression. "I am not afraid to die, and I am a poet," she said.
In Houston, a message of solidarity was read from Comité en Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Mexico. In Chicago, a Puerto Rican sister discussed the intense recent attacks on progressive Puerto Rican forces in that city--and invited everyone to march on the United Nations this coming July 25 to oppose 100 years of U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico.
In New York, Omowale Clay of the December 12th Movement said, "This May Day is particularly important because with our efforts and the solidarity of revolutionaries and progressives (and in particular a warm `shout out' to the RCP), one of our political prisoners, a revolutionary comrade, Brother Abdul Haqq, is on the streets again."
In Los Angeles, there were solidarity statements from All-African People's Revolutionary Party (AAPRP), the Jericho '98 Project for political prisoners, and the Koos Cafe (a center for progressive culture in Orange County). In Seattle, an activist with the October 22nd Coalition announced the call for a new day of action, on October 22nd 1998, against police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation. In Cleveland there were support statements from the Alejandro Ramirez Defense Coalition, Art McCoy of Black on Black Crime 2000, and the Native American group Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance.
Revolution Is the Hope of the Hopeless
The new rising generation put its mark on this May Day. Many came, for the first time, to join the celebrations of revolution and internationalism. They often expressed delight at having hooked up with something so utterly contrary to the official spirit of the times.
One sister heard about this May First during a walkout at her Bay Area high school. What did she think? "The sense of community, and uprising and revolution here is amazing. When I start getting swept up in it, it's gonna be fun....I always believed in the communist philosophy, but I never saw any organization around it. It's awesome!"
Another Bay Area activist, whose relative was murdered by police, said he had learned about the oppression and struggle of people worldwide and added, "It's up to us to do it. It's up to our youth to take over."
Poetry and music fired imaginations on May Day and deepened the sense of united purpose. In Chicago, one poem had everyone beating out a rhythm together, as a collective heartbeat of struggle to save the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal. In several places, poems honored RCP member Damián García who was murdered by police in 1980 while organizing for May First.
At all the events this May First, a high point was the singing of the Internationale, the anthem of the international working class, in many languages.'Tis the final conflict,
let each one stand in their place,
the Internationale shall be the human race.
Ray Lotta, New York:"Does the Communist Manifesto speak to us today? Yes, it does. It speaks to us through its analysis of capitalist society. It speaks to us through its vision of a world without classes. It speaks to us through the actual experience of proletarian revolution in this century--in what was accomplished and in what has been learned about what it is going to take to do away with this system. It speaks to us because here, at the dawn of the next millennium, nothing less than revolution will advance human society."
Statement from audience, Berkeley"I am a parent with three sons in public schools--boys whom I hope will stand with the people of the world and never fight for our rich rulers in their wars of plunder. I am also a manager at a Bay Area company who is looking toward the day when I can use my skills full time in the service of the people, not profit. For now, I pledge and I urge all progressive people to pledge half a day's wages to the Worldwide Campaign to Raise Funds for the RIM."
Joe Veale, RCP Los Angeles Branch:"The workings of world capitalism have created a `Smokey Mountain' in every country in the world today. Smokey Mountain was a shantytown in Manila, an entire community built around a garbage dump--that hundreds of families rummaged through each day to find what they needed to survive. These are human beings like the homeless anywhere, including here, tossed out and treated worse than garbage... This system is a complete disaster and a total failure for the great majority of people on this planet."
Phil Farnum, RCP New York Branch:"Bob Avakian, the chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has said that for those in the belly of the beast, there is a special responsibility and opportunity to bring this beast down.... The Communist Manifesto says that capitalism creates its gravediggers. It does not say that capitalists dig their own graves. That's our job."
Washington Heights, New York City
The people of Washington Heights, a largely Dominican community, have been under police siege. After shooting down people in cold blood, the police have now set up barricades in the 'hood, demanding that people show ID to walk on their own streets!
On May 2, the red flags of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade flew high, as revolutionaries raised the chant: "Live for the people! Die for the people! Fight for the people! Power to the people!"
As they marched through the community, people raised their fists and voices in support: ĦQue viva el primero de mayo! ĦQue viva la revolución! The action stopped by the police barricades and, right in the face of the cops, the Obrero Revolucionario went hand to hand. Over 1,000 copies of the special May Day issue were distributed that day, and people donated money for the cause.
Cabrini Green Housing Projects, Chicago
May 1--Revolutionaries marched from building to building holding mini-rallies and reading Chairman Avakian's statement "Long Live the Spirit of the '92 Rebellion --Forward from Rebellion to Revolution." Kids joined in--carrying red flags and chanting "Power to the people." They boldly crossed borders of various street organizations to unite with those on the other side--sowing new unity among the people. One young man mentioned that revolutionary posters with the earth breaking through chains had appeared all over several buildings--and wondered out loud how his building could get decorated.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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