The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.62/No.4           February 2, 1998 
Seattle YS Joins Fight For Affirmative Action  

This column is written and edited by the Young Socialists (YS), an international organization of young workers, students, and other youth fighting for socialism. For more information about the YS write to: Young Socialists, 1573 N. Milwaukee, P.O. Box #478, Chicago, Ill. 60622. Tel: (773) 772-0551. Compuserve: 105162,605

SEATTLE - Close to 2,500 people marched from Garfield High School to downtown Seattle January 19 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The theme of this year's march was "Affirm Affirmative Action," which is in response to the growing attack on this important gain won through years of struggle in the civil rights movement. In a speech at the kick-off rally, Hop Hopkins, a student leader at Seattle Central Community College (SCCC), confidently stated, "Ordinary people are the ones who make change." The mobilization included many in the local Black community, as well as organizations of students and workers like Mothers Against Police Harassment, the Urban League, the Coalition for the Preservation of Affirmative Action, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

This march follows a series of student-organized actions that have opposed Initiative 200, a measure modeled after Proposition 209 in California, which aims to end affirmative action in public schools and in government hiring and contracts. Students at the University of Washington organized a 1,000-strong rally on December 4, and SCCC coalition sponsored a rally attended by 250 people on December 6 demanding rejection of Initiative 200. Students at both schools have joined forces to call for a march in Olympia on January 31 as a show of student militancy to preserve affirmative action. The Seattle chapter of the Young Socialists has thrown itself into this campaign, helping to organize the rallies and draw in the support of organized labor.

The local chapter ended the day of action with an open house at the Pathfinder bookstore on socialism and the fight for Black liberation with YS leader Joshua Carroll, who is touring the West Coast to build the upcoming Western Regional Socialist Conference in Seattle January 24 -25.


SEATTLE - The Los Angeles leg of the tour to build the Young Socialists (YS) and the upcoming regional conference in Seattle started on a good note January 16 with a dinner and discussion. Three members of the YS came, as well as another young person who is planning on coming to the conference and is thinking about joining the Young Socialists.

We spent most of the evening discussing politics, especially the need for workers and youth to oppose Washington's war preparations against Iraq. Another topic of discussion was the Unz Initiative - a proposed law that would end all bilingual education programs in California public schools. The following day YS members went to the University of California - Los Angeles campus to talk to various student organizations about participating in a January 20 picket line protesting Washington's war drive.

Another noteworthy meeting in Los Angeles was a dinner meeting January 17 at the home of Craig Honts, a socialist rail worker and a member of the United Transportation Union (UTU). The meeting was organized so that I could meet a young co- worker of his, Nester Baz˙a, who is planning to come to the Seattle conference.

Baz˙a was in the U.S. Army in Iraq during the 1991 U.S.-led Gulf War. He explained how U.S. soldiers were given no information about what was going on. Most of the soldiers in his platoon, he said, had nothing against the Iraqi people. "Many of the prisoners we took weren't even armed and they hadn't eaten. We gave them some of the food that we had," he said.

Baz˙a also explained that his basic motivation for fighting was the possibility of leaving. "We did what they told us to do so that we could get it over with and then go home." During his time in the army he took opportunities to explain to other soldiers in his platoon that the war against Iraq was being waged for oil by the big-business interests in the United States.

In Seattle I participated on January 20 in a march of 1,500 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, and against Initiative 200. After the march, members of the Young Socialists organized an open house at the Pathfinder bookstore, where we got into a lively discussion on affirmative action. Kate Porter, a leader of Students Against I-200 and the Coalition to Preserve Affirmative Action, said, "We still need affirmative action because there is still racism and discrimination."

Following the march in Seattle, I flew to San Francisco. On January 20, we organized a meeting of six people at the University of California at Santa Cruz. After that, five of us drove to Palo Alto to attend a picket line of about 200 people in defense of bilingual education. Many of them pointed to the connection between the Unz Initiative; Proposition 187, which barred undocumented immigrants from receiving public education and healthcare; and Proposition 209, which ended all state- sponsored affirmative action.  
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