25, 50, and 75 Years Ago

February 6, 2023

February 9, 1998

The conduct of Cuban president Fidel Castro and of hundreds of thousands of Cuban people during the Pope’s visit provided a joyous glimpse of what it means for the proletariat to be in power with a firm, communist leadership. It showed the confidence of the working class in itself and its vanguard. Castro pointed to the uncompromising struggle against colonialism by the Cuban people and their determination to stand up to the mightiest imperialist power on earth.

He ended by explaining that there is no other country better equipped to understand that the equitable distribution of wealth and human solidarity must be spread around the globe. One of the main points Castro made is that religious freedom, that is respect for believers and nonbelievers alike, has been one of the pillars of the Cuban revolution from its triumph.

February 9, 1973

Black workers won a major victory Jan. 16 when the Labor Department ordered an end to discriminatory policies at the Bethlehem Steel plant in Sparrows Point, Md. The ruling affects nearly 8,000 Black employees.

A government-appointed committee found that Blacks had long been assigned to the “dirtiest, least desirable jobs.” It also charged that Bethlehem policy forced Blacks to stay with these jobs because anyone transferring to another unit lost seniority and pay status. If Bethlehem does not comply with the order, it faces the possible loss of millions of dollars in government contracts. The order was based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Most Blacks at the plant welcomed the ruling. One crane operator said he gave up 17 years of seniority when he shifted to another unit seven years ago. He will now have 24 years of seniority.

February 9, 1948

The assassination of Gandhi was political news of importance.

His simplicity of life, and the way he dramatized it, caught the imagination of the Indian masses. His loin cloth, his spinning wheel, his skillfully timed fasts, his campaigns against the British — these were the means by which he concentrated on himself, and himself alone, the attention and political obedience of scores of millions. This influence gave him his enormous power among the hard-boiled politicos of the Indian National Congress.

Gandhi never alienated the Indian capitalists and landlords. Historically, Gandhi will have his due share of the credit for his struggles against British imperialism. He will also have his due share of discredit for having strengthened the native ruling class against the great masses of the people who alone can regenerate India.