The explosion of strikes and protests by teachers across the country had a big impact on the Socialist Workers Party’s effort to expand the reach of the Militant and books by party leaders, and to raise at least $112,000 for the Militant Fighting Fund. Party members and other workers made their way to join the teachers and bring solidarity. They then returned home to discuss with co-workers and others how the actions were changing politics, opening the door to advance and transform our unions.
Hundreds of teachers and other participants — and those elsewhere looking to the example the school workers were setting — eagerly grabbed up subscriptions to the Militant and revolutionary books. Many gave or increased their contributions to the fund. We’re poised to make our goals.
When SWP member Leroy Watson and I went out to Broadview, Illinois, May 19 to knock on workers’ doors and discuss these developments, we met Alan Cabanlilt, who works in a lab.
“I’ve seen the teachers’ demonstrations on TV and I think they’re great,” he said. “And I think I could learn something from the Militant and that book,” pointing to Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, one of five books on special offer with a subscription.
Rob Pearlman, a member of the Communist League in Australia, was visiting the U.S. and grabbed the opportunity to join the mass May 16 teachers’ rally in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Demetrius, a young Black student, approached the SWP literature table,” Pearlman said.
“I’ve read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I think I’d like to read that book,” Demetrius said, pointing to Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, also by Barnes.
They talked about Malcolm, how he became a leader of the entire working class, and the class-struggle road ahead to overthrow capitalist exploitation and oppression. Demetrius decided to get a subscription as well as the book. “How can I keep in touch with you?” he asked. He exchanged numbers with SWP members from Atlanta.
More than 1,000 people joined the annual Malcolm X Festival May 19, reported Alyson Kennedy from Dallas. It was held in the parking lot outside the Pan African Connection Bookstore there. The Socialist Workers Party had a tent displaying party books published by Pathfinder Press, with several big stacks of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power. Thirty copies were sold, along with a number of copies of the other titles on special, The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible? Are they Rich Because They’re Smart? and “It’s the Poor Who Face the Savagery of the US ‘Justice’ System.”
“We sold copies of The Communist Manifesto, On the Jewish Question by Leon Trotsky, Final Speeches by Malcolm X, Our History Is Still Being Written, by three Chinese-Cuban generals in Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, and Che Talks to Young People as well as 12 subscriptions,” Kennedy said.
Hundreds of people came by the SWP booth, which had signs in solidarity with the teacher mobilizations and the Cuban Revolution. Many people got a copy of the SWP statement, “For recognition of a Palestinian state and of Israel” and wanted to discuss the road forward for workers and toilers in the Mideast today.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba, because of what I’ve learned about the ties between the Black struggle in the U.S. and the Cuban Revolution,” LaKatheryn Shaw told Kennedy when she looked at the books. “The Cubans knew about the Black struggle.”
She got a copy of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, “It’s the Poor Who Face the Savagery of the US ‘Justice’ System” and The Communist Manifesto and signed up for information on future Cuba brigades.
Kristen Baker-Fletcher, a Southern Methodist University student, also met SWP members at the festival. She said she wants to set up a meeting for them with students she knows on the campus. She picked up a subscription and four of the campaign books.
“We have to fight against U.S. colonial policy in Puerto Rico. It’s criminal,” Faustino Perez, a former Walmart worker, told SWP member Ilona Gersh. They met as he was visiting the store in Chicago where he used to work. He said he is shocked by the living conditions working people face on the island.
“I told him that the editor of the Militant was leaving for a solidarity and reporting trip to Puerto Rico in a few days, and after returning he will testify in support of Puerto Rico’s working class and against U.S. colonial rule at the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization meeting in June,” Gersh said.
“That’s important,” Perez responded. “We have to get the truth out about why the ruling class isn’t interested in helping working men and women there.” He gave $5 to the Militant fund to help pay for the trip. His wife, who also reads the Militant, pitched in another $5. The trip to Puerto Rico was reported to over 50 people attending a May 19 Militant Labor Forum in Oakland, California. Participants raised more than $700 towards funding it.
If you’d like to go with SWP members and supporters joining in teachers’ and other workers’ battles, contact the party branch nearest you .