First Published: Berkeley Barb, September 22-28, 1967.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
The Statewide Conference on Electoral Politics was originally scheduled at San Luis Obispo the weekend of Sept. 16th in order to decide whether to go in for a petition campaign or a re-registration campaign to order to put a third party on the ballot.
What happened in the meantime was Chicago.
Thus, when the meeting opened, the first order of new business was the presentation of a demand by the local Black Caucus for a 50% voting bloc on issues which it judged to affect the Black community.
When pressed for details, Ayuku Babu, the Black spokesman, said that the issues of registration versus petition was not considered such a matter.
Most of the whites at the convention (total registration of about 100) had not been to Chicago, and had heard primarily only the mainline press ream jobs on that conference.
Thus, some of the whites went around saying “you don’t understand; I can’t exactly explain it” while the others looked at them fishy-eyed, thinking “we won’t be made a laughing stock here if I have anything to say about it.”
The Weinberg-Hannon Compromise proposal was passed the first day setting up what amounted to an equal white caucus along with the black one. The Black Caucus rejected it and walked out with a statement that the whites would be considered “aggressors” if they entered the ghettos.
At that point the conference adjourned and the caucuses proliferated.
A group that was later to become known as “the Mensheviks” formed with the intent of rescinding the resolution. Beyond that they did not care to think apparently, because when asked what their vision was, they replied by saying that they were trying to “get this thing back together,” while making gathering motions with their arms.
It seemed that they wanted to go marching down the same old 1948-style road, hand-in-hand, black-and-white together.
Among their number stood Si Casady and Don Rothenberg, two heavyweights of the New Politics diffusion.
At the same time a structure committee and a program committee met to draw up statements on general policy and organizing structure. Another sub-group drew up an anti-revision statement condemning “interlopers” who “opposed electoral action.”
Rumors grew up that the CPs on the Black caucus were trying to sabotage any re-registration campaign; later someone asked and found that the CP line to their black delegates was to get the caucus interested in electoral politics “whether they liked it or not.”
Next morning the plenary session reconvened. After thirty minutes of debate the minority caucus’ resolution was defeated, and they walked out, forming their own organizing group and meeting with the Black Caucus for the rest of the day.
Meanwhile, the majority caucus continued and rapidly adopted the structure and policy proposals. The “controversial” decision to opt for re-registration to form a Peace and Freedom Party passed unanimously. 67,000 registrants will be needed by Jan. 1, 1968 to qualify the party for the ballot. The structure for the registration drive was to consist of a three-man executive board made up of one northerner, one southerner and one from at large. Al Moreno was chosen from the South, Bob Avakian from the North, and Jack Weinberg at large. The main hassle was finding people who could spare the time.
There would also be a co-ordinating committee consisting of the three executives and one delegate from each county.
A collection was taken for the statewide efforts and netted several hundred dollars. Then the meeting adjourned and listened to Danny Gray and Don Rothenberg of the minority caucus. Gray revealed that the Black Caucus would attend the CDC convention “either as observers, delegates or disrupters,” No more specific programs were announced, and Gray noted that the real opponents were not the PFP but the politicians in office. This brought applause.
It might have been the death knell for New Politics, it might have been the removal of deadwood. It might also have been a happening.