First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 34, December 27, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Nearly two months ago, a work team was sent to Hartford, Conn., to organize a Nov. 6 demonstration in support of Gary Tyler’s freedom and in solidarity with the struggle of prisoners at the Connecticut state prison in Somers.
The work team was made up of organizers from the Boston Unity Collective, the Bridgeport Workers Organization, and the October League–all member groups of the Organizing Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party. The following article was written by a member of the work team to sum up their experiences.
One of the main reasons our work team achieved such important successes in Hartford was that we put The Call at the center of our work as a collective propagandist, agitator, and organizer.
In a five-day period, our work team succeeded in mobilizing nearly 200 people to take part in the Nov. 6 demonstration – the largest mass action in Hartford in years. Many hundreds of workers and oppressed minorities were introduced to communist ideas and revolutionary practice for the first time. In addition, a number of advanced workers came forward during the course of our work to see the need for a new, genuine communist party.
As soon as we arrived in Hartford, we began using The Call to agitate among the people to support the Nov. 6 demonstration. We sold The Call at local factories and colleges, and to Puerto Rican farmworkers on their way to the tobacco fields. The response of the people was extremely enthusiastic.
We also sold The Call and distributed leaflets door-to-door in a poor community of mainly Puerto Rican workers. The housing there is some of the worst in the country, and the unemployment rate is about 50%.
Every day we would meet people who told us of the police arresting and beating someone the night before. On one street, the people told us, every young man between 17 and 30 years old was in jail.
Through our Call sales, we met a number of people in the neighborhood who expressed strong interest in working with us. Every night (and sometimes during the day) we held house meetings where we met new people whom we encouraged to join the coming demonstration.
Since we didn’t know the area well, people in the community helped to plan the march route with us, and we were introduced to more and more contacts who wanted to take part in the struggle. The neighborhood residents also helped get us on a state-wide Spanish-language radio station where we brought our message to an estimated 50,000 people.
One of the most important lessons learned by the work team was the necessity of upholding the right of equality of languages.
In this Puerto Rican community, the majority of people spoke mainly Spanish, and in Spanish. The question came up–what approach would move our work forward? Should we rely on just one person to do the essential work among Spanish-speaking people? Or should we all try to learn some basic Spanish and, at the same time, mobilize the community people to help with translating?
This latter position won the support of both the work team members and the community. We began Spanish classes at night and went out to the people with a revolutionary perspective on the struggles of Puerto Rican people. This perspective was firm support for independence for Puerto Rico and full democratic rights for the Puerto Rican national minority in the U.S.
One concrete measure of our success in upholding the equality of languages was that about 75% of the 500 newspapers sold in five days were El Clarin sales to Spanish-speaking workers.
In all our efforts, we put the emphasis on propaganda work that would teach the people about the evils of the capitalist system and win the more advanced to see the need for a new communist party and a socialist society. We did this through the many house meetings we held and in personal discussions with individual workers and their families.
But we also took up the task of educating the workers through the distribution of various revolutionary books and pamphlets. The two most popular pieces of literature were the interview with OL Chairman Michael Klonsky on the international situation and the new pamphlet on the struggle to free Gary Tyler.
This emphasis on propaganda work was also reflected within the work team. We carried out regular study of The Call and discussed our work in order to deepen our political understanding of our tasks.
Summing up our work in Hartford, we can see how important the communist press was in the activities of the work team. Not only when we first went there two months ago, but also today as we continue working with the many contacts we made– The Call was the central tool with which we carried out the revolutionary education of the workers and mobilized them for struggle.