Celebrate Cindy Jaquith’s 55 years building the communist movement

By Seth Galinsky
May 18, 2020
Cindy Jaquith speaking in Miami, August 2016.
Militant/Amanda UlmanCindy Jaquith speaking in Miami, August 2016.

Cindy Jaquith, a cadre and leader of the Socialist Workers Party for some 55 years, died unexpectedly in Miami May 2 of complications from an intestinal illness.

Over the years, Jaquith shouldered a wide range of national and international leadership responsibilities in building the Socialist Workers Party and the world communist movement.

Jaquith joined the Young Socialist Alliance in the mid-1960s while a student at Carleton College in Minnesota. Like thousands of other young people of her generation, she was inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the proletarian fight to overthrow Jim Crow segregation.

She was a member of and helped build the party’s trade union fractions in a number of cities, served stints as editor of the Militant and took major responsibility for the party’s work in the women’s liberation movement beginning in the early 1970s.

Jaquith first joined the Militant staff in 1972. As part of her responsibilities she frequently traveled to the Kentucky coalfields during the Brookside United Mine Workers organizing drive, a fight portrayed in the movie Harlan County USA. She participated in and reported on the historic march of 100,000 for the Equal Rights Amendment for women in Washington, D.C., on July 9, 1978.

In January 1979, when workers and farmers in Iran took to the streets in their millions and a month later  brought down the hated U.S.-backed shah, Jaquith was assigned to cover the unfolding revolution. Over the next year she traveled back and forth to Iran, collaborating with fellow communists to get eyewitness coverage of this working-class upsurge into the hands of working people around the world.

She interviewed garment workers, soldiers and other working people at the forefront of making the revolution. She wrote about the mass mobilizations of women fighting for their liberation, and the organization of workers into factory committees to defend their interests. Jaquith covered the press conference that announced the formation of the Socialist Workers Party of Iran. Upon her return, she toured the U.S. giving public forums on the Iranian Revolution.

The articles Jaquith wrote were invaluable for workers in the U.S. and around the world to understand the working-class course of the Iranian Revolution and its lasting impact today, despite the counterrevolution by reactionary bourgeois clerical forces that prevented a workers and farmers government from coming to power.

From August 1985 to November 1987, Jaquith headed up the Managua Bureau of the Militant and Perspectiva Mundial, the paper’s Spanish-language sister publication. The bureau was established in August 1979, one month after the victory of the Sandinista Revolution. She returned to direct the bureau in mid-1990 until it closed in December that year.

Over the last five years, Jaquith was a leader of the Miami branch of the party. She worked at Walmart and was the party’s candidate for mayor of Miami in 2017.

The Militant will carry a fuller account of Jaquith’s political contributions in a future issue. Messages from those who knew and worked with Jaquith will be featured in the article and at an upcoming meeting to celebrate her life. Send messages to themilitant@mac.com.