First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. II, No. 9, September 1963
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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(Editor’s note: The formation of the new FREEDOM NOW Party to fight for Negro political representation was announced by Negro attorney Conrad J. Lynn a few days before the August 28 March on Washington. As one of the founders of that Party, Bill Epton, Progressive Labor candidate for New York City Councilman-at-large, below offers his view on the background and potential of the new group.)
The present two-party set-up in the United States, in reality, is only one party with varying factions that in no way represent the majority of the people of the United States – the working class, the Negro people and the other minority peoples.
The Republican Party has its “liberal wing” represented by Javits, Rockefeller and Keating – three of the most rabid war-mongers on the political scene. It has its pro-fascist wing represented by Goldwater, et. al.
The Democratic Party’s “liberal wing” is composed of the Kennedy klan, Humphrey and Morse. Their special “claim to fame” is selling out their “friends” in the trade union movement. The open fascists are the Eastlands, Russells, etc.
On most domestic and foreign issues the so-called “liberals” vote together and the pro-fascist elements vote as a bloc. Usually the point where they part is on tactics to be employed. IT IS A RARE THING WHEN THEY DISAGREE ON THE ISSUE!
The entire arrangement is stacked against the people. Since reconstruction, with 16 Republican and 9 Democratic Presidents, and with the Senate and House controlled alternately by one or the other faction, the basic domestic and foreign policies of the rulers of this country has not changed ( although under the New Deal they were forced to make major concessions to the people.) Their foreign policy has been, and is, to grab and control as much of the world’s economy as they can. And their domestic policy is one of keeping the working people from owning what they produce, and keeping the Negro people in a semi-slave status.
At present, I would suggest that the Kennedy Administration, Democratic Party and the Republican Party are opposed to enforcing the Constitution and to passing any meaningful Civil Rights legislation – they do not enforce the present laws! For if they did either one, or both, the working class and the Negro people would be in a better position to strike for power.
So they prepare, rehearse and carry out their little act, shifting the blame for unemployment and racism, trading and selling votes, delaying, double-dealing, double-talking and double-crossing, blustering and filiabustering, and selling out the people on every issue. They systematically inject the “red” issue, and so far have been able to capture the Negro “leadership” for the support of their cold war policies.
These facts are becoming increasingly clear to the Negro people as they see that almost the only avenues of struggle within the two-party system lead to meager gains, and gains for the few Uncle Toms and political hacks.
And so, a new Negro political organization is proposed – the Freedom Now Party.
The launching of this party is a natural outgrowth of the Negro liberation movement which comprises many organizations – from the Muslims to the NAACP, and many trends – from the radical left to the churches. It is also an outgrowth of the sharpening class conflict in the U.S., where the Negro workers are playing a leading role in the new challenge to the rulers of this country.
These various forces within the freedom movement must be recognized and encouraged to participate in the new Party. At the same time, a struggle must be waged against the divisive elements, the Uncle Toms, and stooges of the State Department, who will try to infiltrate and disrupt the unity of the new Party and the unity of the Negro people.
The Freedom Now Party is a revolutionary organization and it must have a revolutionary program and outlook that will capture the imagination of the masses of the Negro people –a program they can rally around. Without a good program, this party will fail. I see the following as some of the necessary programmatical points:
1. Agrarian reform: Land to the Negro tenant farmers, sharecroppers and migrant farmers; land to the Negro unemployed in the southern industrial cities who were forced off the land and into the ghettos of the cities.
2. End unemployment with a massive public works program, shorter work day (6 hours work for 8 hours pay,) and early retirement at 55 years of age.
3. Recall all public officials from states, counties and cities where the Negro people are disenfranchised for any reason.
4. Nationalize and socialize all public utilities and transportation systems.
5. Jail all discriminators for committing a crime against the Negro people – public officials, trade union leaders, landlords, etc.
6. No more rent increases for any reason – roll back rents to 10 percent of a worker’s salary.
7. Tear down the slums and build spacious, low-rent housing for the people that live in the area now.
8. Take the murder weapons out of the hands of the police. All cops should live in the neighborhood where they work and be responsible to the people in the neighborhood. Cops should be tried in public for acts of brutality and discrimination.
9. Establish a liaison body with the African-Asian states to work for ending of the arms race, destruction of all existing arms and nuclear weapons, and to once and for all end imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism.
It is absolutely essential that, in order for this party to grow, mature and achieve its goal there must be unity within it and no restriction on membership as far as Communists are concerned. We all know that the main peddlers of the anti-communist line are the oppressors of the Negro people and their lackeys. Anti-communism is divisive!
The Party must also have the outlook, after consolidation, of developing into a real Party of the working class with working class leadership, composed of all forces, black and white, who are willing to struggle for Freedom. The leadership, in the main, must be Negro.
Freedom will not be given to us. We must organize and fight for it.