Max Shachtman

Sharecroppers Attend Full-Time,
Two-Week School on Socialist Principles
Organized by Workers Party

(November 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 46, 16 November 1942, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Almost on the heels of the exceptionally successful National Training School organized a few months ago by the Workers Party, a full-time “extension course” organized on the same principles has just been concluded in the heart of one of the most important agricultural sections of the United States.

The school, held in the Southern part of the country, not far from Memphis, Tenn., was attended by a dozen students selected from among the ablest leaders of the sharecroppers and day laborers in the territory. Most of the students were Negroes, about evenly divided between men and women.

The school lasted two full weeks and under the circumstances the course had to be pretty intensive. The students were so anxious to attend and so enthusiastic about the prospectus that some of them even sacrificed two weeks of work in the fields – no small matter, given their working and living conditions – in order to be able to attend the sessions.

Thanks to the kind cooperation of a friend of the movement, the problem of taking care of such a body of students, coming together for the purpose of acquiring the rudiments of a Marxian education, was very favorably solved. Our friend placed at the disposal of the school a large farm dotted with several commodious buildings. The environment was perfect for the school’s purposes and it was possible to house and feed all the students comfortably and with a minimum of expense.

The direction of the school was in the hands of the National Labor Secretary of the Workers Party and Labor Editor of Labor Action, David Coolidge. The voluminous, detailed study outlines, used by the students at the earlier National Training School of the party, were also used in the Southern Training School, and according to Director Coolidge, with gratifying results. In addition, the school was fortunate in having placed at its disposal an adequate collection of supplementary reading material covering a wide range of subjects.

Three classes were held each day, the first from 10 to 12 in the morning, the second from 2:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon, and the third from 8 to 10 in the evening.

Time in between the class sessions was devoted to less formal discussions (which went on practically all the time, and at a lively, pace!) and what Director Coolidge called “laboratory” sessions, or discussions devoted to the practical application of the class subjects.

Six courses in all, were covered, including a critical Marxian analysis of the capitalist world, the manner of conducting the organized struggle against it, the historical significance of the coming socialist society, the theory and practice of trade unionism, and the program and principles of the WP.

The results of the school were more satisfactory than had ever been imagined by its original organizers. Both the director and the students expressed themselves with unreserved enthusiasm about what had been accomplished – and about what they would be able to accomplish in the class struggle, with greater knowledge.

An indication of the practical results in the growth of the Workers Party resulting from the school is the fact that activities launched by the students upon their homeward return immediately produced three sturdy and flourishing nuclei of Workers branches, two of which have since become regular branches.

Given favorable conditions – or as people say, “With good luck and by the grace of God” – the activities of our newly-won comrades should spread throughout the territory in which they live and work and fight, awakening the consciousness and stimulating the militancy of the cynically-oppressed agricultural masses, and winning them in growing numbers to the banner of the party of the socialist revolution, the Workers Party.

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Last updated on 3 October 2014