Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

James Forman

Black America: Organize and Struggle

First Published: The Guardian, April 3, 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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I believe it is critical that Black Marxist-Leninists who are staunch supporters of the “Proposal for a General Line of the International Communist Movement,” set forth by the Chinese Communist party in 1963, exercise their responsibility to organize and struggle with the Black masses wherever they are gathered.

All my study of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought stresses the duty of a revolutionary to be among the masses and to accept people as they are, striving always to fight for the immediate aims of the working class and working people and to link those aims with the long range struggle for a proletarian revolution.

To accomplish its objective, the working class and its new Communist party will have to adopt the principles outlined by Chairman Mao Tsetung in his work, “On Policy.” That is. “. . . to make use of contradictions, win over the many, oppose the few and crush our enemies, one by one: and to wage struggle on just grounds, to our advantage, and with restraint.”

In a “Pravda” article on July 28, 1927, Stalin set forth one of the tactical principles of Leninism: “. . . the necessity for the Communist party in every country of utilising the smallest possibilities of securing mass allies for the proletariat, even if they are temporary, vacillating, wavering or unreliable. . . on condition that these allies are mass allies, that they do not restrict the revolutionary propaganda and agitation of the party of the proletariat, do not restrict the work of the party in organizing the working class and the toiling masses.”

One concern among some Black revolutionaries relates to whether one should have any relationship to the Black middle class and mass organizations under its control, there are some ultra-leftists who advocate the total isolation of the Black middle class.

It is incorrect for anyone to talk about the total isolation of the Black middle class and to treat that class as one solid block of enemy forces. Nowhere in the history of Marxism-Leninism can anyone find, in my opinion, a rationale for the total isolation of the urban middle class, Black or white, many of whom are constantly thrown into the ranks of the proletariat by the workings of the capitalist system.

Observable reality has proven time after time that sections of the Black middle class work directly as an ally of the working class and oppressed nationalities. Moreover, the Black middle class itself faces racial and national oppression from white supremacy and often fights in the struggle against it. Thus, a line of total isolation of the Black middle class is headed for “self-satisfied sectarianism.”

In addition, in this period of developing revolutionary ferment, the deepening of the capitalist crisis and the rise of the menace of fascism, it is essential to mobilize all possible forces around concrete material needs that affect the working class, the working people and oppressed nationalities.

From March 15 to 17, the National Black Political Assembly, a mass organization primarily under the leadership of Black, middle-class elected officials and Imamu Baraka, held its second national convention in Little Rock, Ark., with more than 2000 Black people in attendance, many of them from the grass roots and the working class.

Seventeen years ago in 1957, Little Rock was the scene of pitched battles between federal troops and white supremacists over the issue of whether nine young Black children could desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School. This event had worldwide significance in the height of the “cold war” period and greatly affected the lives of many people.

Over 5000 people attended the first National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Ind., in 1972. Some of the delegates from Baton Rouge, La., were later instrumental in organizing the first political strike by Black dockworkers against Rhodesian chrome entering the United States.

Failing to isolate from its many political demands a few concrete issues around which many people could be organized and mobilized, the National Black Political Assembly has lost some of its appeal since Gary. Yet, the aspiration of more and more forces in the Black population for unity against racial, national and class oppression was the main determining factor in the large gathering in Little Rock.

It is the analysis of some Black people, including myself, that elected Black officials and the National Black Assembly are a reality. Consequently, one task of revolutionary and anti-imperialist forces is to aid the development of these objective realities into more and more direct service of the anti-imperialist struggle wherever possible through united front tactics on specific demands. This clearly means alliance and struggle as the practical work unfolds. But the guiding principle should be those factors that unite and not the ones on which there are differences.

In Little Rock, some revolutionary forces waged principled struggle to get the resolution committee to single out the fight for the repeal of the Byrd Amendment as the central international issue for the broad mobilization of the Black Assembly at this moment in history when Black dockworkers are leading more and more political strikes against Rhodesian imports. They lost. Moreover, a significant resolution passed by the labor workshop to create a committee of the Assembly dealing with unemployment was also lost in the final shuffle.

Insufficient communication and coordination of efforts by Black revolutionaries aided in this momentary setback of two very important issues.

Revolutionary forces, nevertheless, should draw encouragement from the Assembly. We cannot forget this Black Political Convention was held 17 years after the pitched battles of 1957. The objective political situation of Black people made it possible for there to be a National Black Political Assembly in an area where lynch law, poll tax, segregation, discrimination and white supremacy once ruled in very overt and hideous forms. The issues debated, resolved and unresolved this year are far different from those of 1957. Moreover, Black communists, revolutionary nationalists and anti-imperialist fighters openly and jointly on some issues participated in the meeting. The appeal for grass roots unity will have its positive effect in years ahead.

Based on the opening analysis of this column, my personal regret and self-criticism is that I was unable to attend the second convention of the National Black Political Assembly.