Hundreds attend #Justice4Daz campaign launch meeting and march

Hundreds attend #Justice4Daz campaign launch meeting and march

Over 200 people came to the launch meeting of the #Justice4Daz campaign last week, which was set up after Coventry man Darren Cumberbatch died after “contact” with the police – the third black man to die in such circumstances in a month, after Edson da Costa and Rashan Charles. Hundreds also joined a march in Nuneaton on Saturday.

The meeting was chaired by Reverend Desmond Jaddoo, who asked the question on many people’s minds – “why was this healthy 32 year old man torn away from his family and from the community?”

The meeting heard that Darren left his sister Carla’s house on Sunday July 9th “healthy and in great form”, and that the police only informed the family that he was in George Eliot Hospital on Wednesday 12th. Witnesses said he had been “battered” by police, and had black eyes and burns on his body. He told a friend he had been Tasered 9 times.

Speakers at the meeting called for the use of Tasers to be suspended due to concerns about their safety, and for the officers involved in Darren’s death to be suspended immediately. Concerns were also raised about the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), who were described as “not fit for purpose”.

A speaker from Black Conscious Coventry argued that the problems within the police are systemic and rooted in the capitalist system: “Policing is not there to protect the community, it’s there to protect property and big corporations.”

Hundreds also marched through Nuneaton from the train station to McIntyre House, where Darren was staying, and on to the police station. The march was led by friends and family of Darren. Marchers laid flowers and candles outside McIntyre House.

The march then proceeded to the police station where Darren’s sister, Carla, spoke. Luke, a witness from the night when Darren “came into contact” with police, also spoke: “Something kicked off around 2 o’clock in the morning. I heard him screaming, I heard him shouting. The police were there. He was screaming for help. He was asking, ‘What have I done?’ I heard no reply. I heard tasers – no warning of tasers. I heard CS gas – no warning of CS gas … That night there was something going on that shouldn’t have been going on by police.”

Ryan Rochester, chair of the Coventry branch of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said: “This happened three weeks ago and we still haven’t had a statement from the police. There is video footage from the incident – when are we going to see it? The longer people have to wait the more doubt there is on the validity of what is going on.”

 

 

US Socialist to speak in Birmingham on resistance to Trump’s policies, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of socialism

US Socialist to speak in Birmingham on resistance to Trump’s policies, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of socialism

Darletta-Scruggs-on-Fox-628x356

Darletta v Fox News

We are pleased to publish this press release from the Socialist Party in Birmingham regarding a public meeting taking place on Tuesday night (15th Nov). This is an excellent opportunity to hear first hand about the growing movement in the US following Trump’s election – if you would like more information please in touch by calling 07530429441


Press release

14.11.16 – for immediate use

US Socialist to speak in Birmingham on resistance to Trump and Black Lives matter

Darletta Scruggs was an organiser of the Movement for Bernie in Chicago where she is also an activist with Black Lives Matter and the 15Now campaign for a $15/hr minimum wage. She is a member of Socialist Alternative, co-thinkers of the Socialist Party in the USA,  who have been the key organisers of the anti-Trump protests in cities across the US. Read more here

Darletta says: “Donald Trump was the most hated Presidential candidate in the history of this country, according to the polls. Yet Hillary Clinton, the Wall Street, Wal-Mart, warmonger, couldn’t defeat him. Now, tens of millions of people are both afraid and angry.

“We marched for Bernie and we fight for free education and $15. We will take to the streets in protest to fight against Trump’s racist, sexist and billionaire agenda.”

Here you can see a clip of Darletta when she was on Fox News defending free education: 

Darletta says: “Me and millions like me marched and campaigned for Bernie Sanders but the Democratic nomination was rigged against us. He should have stood. Sanders would have likely defeated Trump, and Bernie could have cut across Trump’s bluster if he’d run as an independent like Socialist Alternative urged.”

Watch this clip to see Darletta doing a speech on the March for Bernie in Chicago earlier this year:

Socialist Alternative is organising protests across the country against Trump’s agenda. Trump is bound to disappoint many of those who backed him in the mistaken hope that he would act in favour of working people.

Three years ago Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant was elected as the first socialist representative in Seattle in 100 years. Since then Kshama has led the successful movement which introduced a $15 wage in the city.

Darletta will be speaking at a public meeting, to which all are welcome  in Birmingham on Tuesday 15 November on the subject of the battle against Trump’s agenda and the rise of socialism and Black Lives Matter in the USA at 7.30pm at the Victoria Pub, John bright Street, Birmingham City Centre, B1 1BN

Click here to access the Facebook event

Fighting racism today

Fighting racism today

colink

American footballer Colin Kaepernick has protested against racism (Photo Mike Morebeck/Creative Commons)

The following article was written by Hugo Pierre of the Socialist Party. Hugo is also a member of the National Executive of the UNISON trade union representing black members (writing here in a personal capacity). We believe this article raises some key issues for those wanting to fight back against racism.


Fighting racism means fighting capitalism

Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

By Hugo Pierre, Socialist Party black and Asian group

The police killing spree in the United States has unleashed a mass movement.

As in the 1950s and 1960s with the civil rights movement, a new generation of black youth has been forced into action against racism. First in the belly of the beast – the US – but also other parts of the world, particularly the UK.

This movement is not limited to the narrow confines of police brutality. It has spread its wings to tackle all the political issues facing black people and oppressed racial groups. Some are drawing the conclusion that capitalism itself is the root of the problem.

The federal investigation into Ferguson Police Department following the police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown shines a spotlight on the real issues facing blacks in particular. In a city where 69% of the population is black, the investigation found a justice system riddled with institutionalised racism:

  • 93% of all arrests were black – and in 90% of these arrests, force was used
  • Black drivers made up 85% of all vehicles stopped, even though these searches revealed they were 25% less likely to be carrying anything illegal
  • 95% of those jailed for more than two days were black
  • Blacks were 68% less likely to have their case dismissed

But the findings also revealed a corrupt justice system that had become focused on bringing in income from fines. This income was necessary to maintain the whole justice system, as it had become commercialised through a succession of cuts and sell-offs.

For-profit justice

Meanwhile, a system operated where white people who faced fines would be let off by friends, acquaintances, neighbours – and even themselves – working in the court system. Racist emails, even by senior staff, were a matter of course.

This profit-driven approach had lethal consequences for Michael Brown. But the picture is repeated one way or another in police forces around the US. And a black US President and countless black city mayors have failed to take action against a for-profit justice system.

Jails are full of young black men. They are typecast because of petty misdemeanours in school, fallen foul of ‘zero tolerance’ policies. They end up being statistics in privatised US jails which have to meet their quotas to get government payments.

More young black men are in US jails than on US college campuses. Black communities are blighted by poverty, unemployment and de facto segregation. Growing filming of racist incidents shows how brutal police action is, as testified recently by the killing of Philando Castile in his car in front of his girlfriend and her young child.

Resistance

But black youth across the US have organised mass civil disobedience in response. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has acted as a lightning rod for the discontent and anger of the many. Demonstrations are now a feature following almost any police killing.

Protests in cities have shut down freeways, closed city centres. Some have been attacked by police. Some have led to uprisings against state forces. In Ferguson, the chief of police was forced to resign. But no officer responsible for killing unarmed black men or women has been found guilty of murder.

Rallies, demonstrations and direct action are not limited just to tackling police murders. And the outrage against police killings isn’t limited to the US.

Black Lives Matter demonstrations started in sympathy in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and other cities. Of course, black workers and youth in the UK have our own victims. The killings this year alone of Mzee Mohammed and Dalian Atkinson at the hands of British police have caused outrage.

These anti-racist campaigns have brought to the surface the often-hidden inequalities that face young black people: higher rates of unemployment, lower access to higher education, lower access to graduate jobs.

Figures released by the Trade Union Congress showed that London, often considered to be diverse and tolerant, had one of the highest gaps between black and white youth unemployment rates. This was not simply an issue of ‘skills mismatch’. When looking at workers with comparable qualifications, black youth could be two to three times more likely to be unemployed.

Studies by UK trade unions have also found that during the post-2007 ‘Great Recession’ and its mass shedding of jobs, black workers were more likely to face redundancy. Some local councils have sacked black workers five or six times as fast as their white workmates. Shamefully, there is little difference in the outcome for black workers whichever party controls the council.

The ‘Movement for Black Lives’ campaign in the US is drawing political conclusions.

This has come not long after the anti-establishment Occupy movement. It’s hot on the heels of the outline of a political campaign against the super-rich represented by self-described socialist Bernie Sanders’ presidential nomination campaign. Young people have lifted their sights.

Demands

The Movement for Black Lives has started to raise many political demands around which various campaign groups can organise political action. These include “an end to the war on black people”, “economic justice”, and investment in education and health rather than “the criminalising, caging and harming of black people”.

These are the beginnings of a programme for a political alternative. This is very welcome. But although it highlights many issues seriously, it also currently has some limitations.

The campaign’s platform recognises the fundamental right of workers to organise, and the need for collective action. There is criticism of the weakness of current US legislation which enshrines the right to organise, but then is toothless when employers refuse to allow workers to exercise that right. It notes the strength of unionised workers in raising the living standards of black people in both the public and private sectors.

Calling for tougher pro-union legislation, and the repeal of anti-union legislation, is right – but alone will not lead to a change in the situation.

The trade unions will be crucial in developing bold, campaigning organisations to bring workers of all races together to fight for rights at work, against discrimination, and against poverty pay and conditions. Especially in the US – but also in the UK – changing the rotten, pro-capitalist leadership of many of those unions, and widening union democracy, are crucial to this task.

The need to challenge the racist capitalist state will also be central to any successful programme. But simple reforms aimed at encouraging full participation in the current ‘democratic’ process will not lead to a fundamental shift in the balance of power from the super-rich 1% to the 99%. For that, we need to take economic power from the capitalists.

Anti-establishment

As in the 1960s, campaigns around voter registration could mobilise substantial numbers to engage. But voter dissatisfaction with both Clinton and Trump means these campaigns will have to break with establishment politics to make real headway.

The two successful Seattle City Council elections campaigns for Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Party’s US co-thinkers Socialist Alternative, show what achievements are possible when workers have socialist representatives to back their campaigns.

Sawant helped win a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle, the first major US city to adopt it. She plays a leading role in fighting poor housing conditions and anti-working class housing regulations. These are major gains, and have helped to inspire a new generation of black and white young people into political activity.

Corbyn

Similarly, in the UK, the campaign to keep Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has given some political expression to the millions who want a fight against austerity. Some blacks have taken part, but many more will be wary at this stage, because of the right-wing Labour establishment blocking their participation.

Momentum, the ‘official’ Corbyn support group, must not fall into the traps Labour’s right wing has set. Blocking forces outside the Labour Party from getting involved, and backing down to establishment Labour politicians, will blunt or blot out the mobilising effect Corbynism could have.

In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the mass civil rights movement was initiated by trade unionists and socialists. They enlisted the services of the churches and the broader community to help organise mass campaigns throughout the US.

The leaders that came through this movement were forced to change their views – and ended by groping towards the ideas of genuine socialism. Figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King started their political lives with a religious fervour, but were assassinated because they took the side of the working class.

Socialism

Malcolm X said “you can’t have capitalism without racism.” Martin Luther King said “There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” He was assassinated a day after marching with striking sanitation workers. The Black Panther Party correctly adopted the ideas of socialism – but unfortunately, without a thorough understanding of what it would take to achieve a socialist society.

Black youth have opened a new chapter of struggle against racism. New movements like Black Lives Matter could play a key role in bringing young people to participate in this essential struggle. The conditions they face will force them to fight to the end.

The lessons of previous movements will have to be learnt quickly. The key lesson is that the struggle to end racism is linked at every level to the struggle against the rule of an economic and political elite which relies on racism to justify exploitation and keep workers divided against each other. That means the struggle against racism must also be the struggle for a socialist society.

If you agree with us, we urge you to join the struggle

RIP Muhammad Ali – 1942-2016

RIP Muhammad Ali – 1942-2016

fistali

Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of the 20th century, sadly died yesterday at the age of 74. As well as being a legendary fighter in the ring, Ali’s refusal to fight in Vietnam and his support and solidarity with the black struggles of the 1960s leave a lasting legacy. Politicians from all sides will pay tribute to Ali today, but 50 years ago they hounded him for standing up for the civil rights of black people.

We are proud to reproduce the below article on Ali by Hugo Pierre from 2003.

Ali & the black struggles of the 1960s

DESPITE ITS CLAIM to be the ‘Land of the Free’, the US ruling class has subjected blacks to systematic racism since the beginnings of colonialism. Blacks, however, have fought tenaciously to end the denial of even the most basic rights, exploring all methods of struggle and all forms of alliances to end this repression.

After Lincoln was forced to declare the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War (1861-65), blacks in the northern states joined the union armies and in the south fled the plantations to join the fight. Blacks were often the most determined soldiers and made up a higher proportion of the union armies than their size in the population.

Although slavery was abolished, the vicious ‘Jim Crow’ system perpetuated racism in the southern states. ‘Jim Crow’ was the term used to describe the state laws passed from the 1890s to segregate blacks from whites in the south, in schools, housing, public transport, and other areas. All kinds of measures, from poll taxes to open intimidation, were used to keep blacks from registering or exercising their right to vote. This system was absent in the north, but there the capitalist class employed the tactics of divide and rule to put black workers in the worst paid jobs in the factories.

War brings radicalisation, and the second world war in particular radicalised blacks, who were forced to fight in segregated units. Prior to the war many blacks had been influenced by the major trade union struggles that had taken place in the 1920s and 1930s, especially the massive wave of strikes that broke out in 1934, which included sit-down action and city-wide general strikes (the Teamsters’ rebellion in Minneapolis and the Auto Lite sit-down in Toledo, Ohio). Mass organising campaigns among factory workers and wider layers of unskilled workers gave rise to the Congress of Industrial Organisations (CIO), formed in 1936. The new industrial unions (United Automobile Workers, United Mine Workers, United Steel Workers, etc) involved black workers (immediately attracting over 500,000 black members), unlike the old craft unions of the American Federation of Labor. This experience was used to good effect during the war, for example, in the 1941 strike organised by the black railway porters union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which forced the government to end open racial discrimination in federal war production factories.

The pre-war struggles and the events of the second world war set the conditions for the development of a mass civil rights movement, beginning in the early 1950s, that would last nearly three decades. It brought to the fore some of the most courageous US black leaders and inspired workers, youth and the oppressed to struggle, not just in the US but around the world.

One of the most celebrated figures linked to this movement is Mohammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, in January 1942, to a poor working-class family in Louisville, Kentucky, who became probably the greatest heavy-weight boxer of all times. The young Clay, who took the name Mohammad Ali when he acknowledged his membership of the black nationalist Nation of Islam in 1964, was forced to take on the world, not just as sportsman but as part of the struggle for black rights. His successes became a powerful symbol of defiance and pride for black Americans and oppressed people around the world.

Systemic racism

KENTUCKY ITSELF WAS considered the gateway state to the south. But for blacks, this was no halfway house; the repression of Jim Crow was the same as the Deep South states. White terror gangs such as the Ku Klux Klan brutally enforced segregation. In Mississippi there were over 500 lynchings between 1864 and 1955 according to official figures. In Georgia lynchings were so common they often went unrecorded.

In the summer of 1955 a 14-year-old Detroit schoolboy, Emmett Till, while visiting relatives in Mississippi, was brutally murdered for whistling to a white female cashier in a shop. His mother decided his coffin would be left open for the funeral to show the world his mutilated body. Despite this an all-white jury acquitted the murderers. A mood of determination to defeat segregation and Jim Crow gripped Southern blacks.

An early battleground in the struggle against segregation was the transport system, where blacks would be forced to give up their seats for whites, were segregated into ‘blacks only’ seats, and were routinely abused by drivers, who would call them ‘nigger’ and ‘ape’. When in 1955 Rosa Parks, a department store worker, refused to give up her seat to a white man, the Montgomery bus boycott began, bringing to the fore Martin Luther King, who became the pre-eminent leader of the civil rights movement (until his assassination in 1968). The mass boycott started the mass movement across the south to end segregation. By 1956, the Montgomery buses were desegregated, but the boycott tactic had spread not just to other public services but into industry. A sacked black steelworker was re-instated after a boycott in his factory in Birmingham, Alabama, spread to others in the same company. This forced the CIO union leaders to join the campaign to end segregation.

Influenced by these events the young Cassius Clay attended a number of civil rights demonstrations. After a white woman soaked him on one of these marches, however, he declared “that’s the last one of these I’m coming to” – although throughout the course of this struggle marchers faced that and more, in beatings, police dogs, bomb threats and shootings.

As events moved forward, however, Ali was forced to make a stand. Professional sports, and boxing in particular, had at times reflected and impacted on the battle against US racism. Before it was professionalised, slave owners often used to pit ‘their man’ against another slave owner’s for sport and gambling and when boxing was professionalised, the white champions would refuse to fight black challengers. When Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, won the title in 1908, the radical Jack London (who was unable to shed his own racial prejudices) coined the term ‘Great White Hope’ for a white to defeat him. Jim Jeffries, a previous champion who’d refused to fight blacks, came out of retirement ‘for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro’. Johnson inflicted a humiliating defeat on Jeffries, despite the crowd chanting ‘kill the nigger!’ Blacks celebrated across the US, but racist reaction was out for lynchings. The worst rioting of the decade followed.

Baseball was segregated before the second world war and, in order to move upmarket, American Football imposed a ban on black players from 1934 until the 1950s. But even as segregation in sport began to end, US sports owners were careful to cultivate black stars that wouldn’t buck the system. Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball star, testified in McCarthy’s notorious House Un-American Activities Committee against Paul Robeson, the world famous bass singer and supporter of the American Communist Party, helping to provide ammunition for the anti-Communist witch-hunt.

Searching for solutions

WHILST THE MASS civil rights campaign was determined, the youth were preparing to go further. In 1960 the Student Non-Violent Co-Ordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed, which was more militant than King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They organised further boycotts of lunch counters, freedom rides and demonstrations against segregated schooling.

Cassius Clay, however, had been attracted to the Nation of Islam, from his days as a schoolboy (his teacher refused to let him do a project on them). This multi-million-dollar organisation that amassed real estate, jewelry and luxury cars, was a direct descendant of Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association. (Garvey, a pioneer of black nationalism in the US, advocated a ‘back to Africa’ movement and also attempted to promote black businesses in the US). Ali’s father, Clay senior, was familiar with Garvey’s views and regularly spoke about them at home.

The Nation would have remained a sect, however, had it not been popularised by its radical leader Malcolm X. The Nation vehemently opposed participating in the mass civil rights movement, calling instead for self-containment and separation of blacks from ‘white’ America.

But the mass events taking place had a profound effect on Malcolm X, even as he maintained his loyalty to the leadership of the Nation. In 1962 Los Angeles police invaded Mosque 27 and one of its leading members was shot and killed. Malcolm X was prevented by the Nation’s leadership from launching a defence campaign even though he had conducted a vigorous investigation and started to organise a powerful alliance of black groups and oppressed workers’ organisations. He also supported a union boycott of a firm in New York that refused to hire black workers, against the wishes of the other Nation leaders.

Malcolm’s activism, his support for involvement in the mass struggle for black rights and, especially, his increasing concern with economic and class issues, brought him more and more into conflict with the Elijah Muhammad leadership. He was increasingly critical of the idea of black separation and was moving towards a position of solidarity with the white working class. In the end, the Nation’s leadership organised his assassination, with the collusion of the US law-enforcement agencies. Despite the close friendship that had grown between Malcolm X and Mohammad Ali, before Ali faced Sonny Liston for the world championship in 1964, the political split within the Nation separated Malcolm and Ali, whose political inclinations were closer to Elijah.

In explaining his conversion after his shock victory over Liston, Ali exposed the racist nature of the US. But he also declared his support for the Nation’s brand of segregation:

“I ain’t no Christian. I can’t be, when I see all the coloured people fighting for forced integration getting blowed up. They get hit by stones and chewed by dogs and they blow up a Negro church and don’t find the killers. I get telephone calls every day. They want me to carry signs. They want me to picket. They tell me it would be good for brotherhood. I don’t want to be blown up. I don’t want to be washed down sewers. I just want to be happy with my own kind.

“I’m the heavyweight champion of the world, but right now there are some neighbourhoods I can’t move into. I know how to dodge booby traps and dogs. I dodge them by staying in my own neighbourhood. I’m no troublemaker. I don’t believe in forced integration. I know where I belong. I’m not going to force myself into anybody’s house…

“I love white people. I like my own people. They can live together without infringing on each other”.

Ali, having embraced the religion and at the same time conquered the boxing world, now became the most famous member of the Nation of Islam. He also became the centre of a power struggle within the Nation itself and, at the same time, a major cause of discussion in the civil rights movement. Two men publicly congratulated him on his victory over Liston: Malcolm X and Dr Martin Luther King. Jackie Robinson meanwhile commented that Ali’s conversion meant ‘nothing’ to the civil rights movement and put his trust in liberal whites to win the day. But Robinson also warned that, “if Negroes ever turn to the Black Muslim movement in any numbers… It will be because white America has refused to recognise the responsible leadership of the Negro people and to grant us the same rights that any other citizen enjoys in this land”.

Ali’s world title defence against Floyd Patterson in November 1965 was preceded by a war of words between the two – not the usual pre-fight hype but a bitter political battle about the way forward. Patterson, who even offered his purse to the liberal-reformist National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), stated: “I have the right to call the Black Muslims a menace to the US and a menace to the Negro race… If I were to support the Black Muslims, I might as well support the Ku Klux Klan”. He reflected the thinking of a layer of blacks who at that stage believed that white American liberals would ‘come to their senses’. By this time, Ali had all his affairs controlled by the Nation and pledged:

“I’m gonna put him [Patterson] flat on his back,
So that he will start acting black,
Because when he was champ he didn’t act like he should,
He tried to force himself into an all-white neighbourhood”.
‘I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong’

JUST AS THE black movement leaders had to draw conclusions about the way forward, so did Ali in his battle with the US state. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1965 but the struggle for more than just voting rights continued. One key issue was the developing war in Vietnam.

In 1965 a poll showed 84% of blacks opposed the war but disproportionately more blacks were being drafted into the army to fight in Vietnam. The youth involved in the civil rights movement under the leadership of SNCC came out against the war in Vietnam.

Early in 1966 Ali was classed as eligible for call-up but he refused to be conscripted into the army, asserting that he was a conscientious objector on religious grounds. His ringing declaration in response to the draft – “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong” – catapulted him into the forefront of the then infant anti-war movement. Ali attended the infamous Los Angeles demonstration – in which 200 demonstrators were clubbed by the brutal Los Angeles Police Department – albeit in his Rolls Royce! He took part in speaking tours around the college campuses.

In 1967 Ali was sentenced to five years in jail for refusing to accept the draft, and the World Boxing Association (WBA) stripped him of his title. Eventually, in 1970, the conviction was overturned by the supreme court (which upheld his right to be a conscientious objector on religious grounds), and the WBA had to reinstate him.

Martin Luther King was also changing his position as riots ripped through most of the country’s black ghettos between 1964 and 1968. Amidst the rubble of the Watts riots, King declared, “It was a class revolt of the under-privileged against the privileged”. In 1967 he was forced to conclude: “We have moved into an era which must be an era of revolution… what good does it do to a man to have integrated lunch counters if he can’t buy a hamburger?” Over those four years 250 mainly black protestors had been killed, 10,000 were injured, and 60,000 had been arrested.

The pacifist movement for civil rights begun in 1954 with a peaceful boycott was developing into a class war. The more far-sighted leaders had started to conclude that the struggle for black liberation was intimately connected to the struggle of the working class. The youth in particular strove for this understanding and the most determined representatives of the movement, the Black Panther Party, adopted some elements of Marxism.

Ali himself found that all the money and fame he had amassed did not isolate him from this struggle. Like Tommie Smith and John Carlos, 200 metre gold and bronze medallists at the 1968 Olympics, who raised clenched black-gloved fists on the winners’ podium, Ali was inspired by a mass movement that had rocked US capitalism and given blacks a glimpse of their power. Eventually allowed to box again, he recaptured the title with a brilliant mastery of tactics (including gaining the support of the Zairian masses, where the fight was being held) in the 1974 encounter with the apparently invincible giant, George Foreman.

Undoubtedly the US authorities feared the potential impact of a politically active Ali at this time, following the defeat in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal that unseated the disgraced president, Richard Nixon. Later, governments tried to use Ali for their own purposes including, in 1980 under president Jimmy Carter, sending him as a political emissary to Africa to win support for the US boycott of the Russian Olympics (the trip was a disaster for Ali and he feared he was being manipulated). As a powerful political symbol of black defiance, the state has been forced to incorporate his legend into its re-writing of history.

Despite this, however, when blacks in the US are forced into struggle, the youth and the new leaders who will come forward will continue to take inspiration from Ali’s determination. He inspired millions around the world, especially those from the ex-colonial world.

While touched by these events, however, and propelled into taking action, Ali never drew the link with the workers’ movement and the critical importance of collective struggle. I can still remember in one of his interviews with Michael Parkinson how he described how proud he felt driving through ghettos like Harlem in his Rolls Royce and how he believed he presented a positive black role model, urging young black men not to take up boxing but to take up studying.

But times have moved on and the vast majority of blacks in the US still face poverty, unemployment and slum housing. The ruling class and many black leaders still consider that positive ‘role models’ for black youth, rather than organising and campaigning, are the most important way of providing guidance away from a life of poverty, drugs and crime. But as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were discovering, black youth will be forced to go the whole way and link the struggle to end racism with the struggle for socialism.

 

Watch this : Kshama Sawant addresses thousands in Seattle! When we fight – We win!

Watch this: Kshama Sawant addresses thousands in Seattle! When we fight we win!

Kshama Sawant

Kshama Sawant

Watch this video of Socialist  Alternative Council Member Kshama Sawant addressing a mass rally of thousands held for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Kshama takes aim at Donald Trump, corporate politics, shows support for Black Lives Matter and explains how $15 was won in Seattle. She also calls for a party of the 99 per cent and for democratic public ownership of the economy to put people before profit. The positive response from the mass rally shows that Socialist ideas are becoming popular in the United States, and throughout the world.

Join the political revolution! Join the fight for a party of the 99 per cent that fights for socialism!

Image of the week – Kshama Sawant says #ImNotWithHer to corporate warmonger Clinton

Image of the week – Kshama Sawant says #ImNotWithHer to corporate warmonger Hillary Clinton

image

Kshama holding sign – Hillary Clinton on right of pic. Photo by Alex Garland

Kshama Sawant, an elected Seattle council member protested against Hillary Clinton at a rally in Seattle. Sawant is the first Socialist elected in Washington state for 100 years, and a member of Socialist Alternative, who are in political solidarity with the Committee for a Workers’ International, which the Socialist Party is part of.

Kshama staged this protest due to Clinton’s role as a warmonger and a supporter of big business and the “1%”. Working class Americans need a party that stands up for ordinary people, a party for the 99%!

For extensive coverage from the US elections from a socialist perspective, please visit the website of Socialist Alternative

Are you with Kshama, or Hillary?

We proud to say we are with Kshama, and we urge you to join the fight for socialism against capitalism. Fill in the form below to get involved!