Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

October League Holds Afro-American Conference

Representatives Discuss Meaning of “Right to Self-determination” as Applied to Black People in the U.S.

First Published: The Call, Vol. 2, No. 12, September 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A Conference on The Black Liberation Afro-American struggle called by the Afro-American Commission of the October League, was held in Detroit last month.

Bringing together OL and non OL cadre involved in work in the Afro-American people’s struggle from cities throughout the country, the conference examined the political line and experiences of the organization.

The first day of the weekend conference began with discussion of the newly-published resolution on the Afro-American question, “For Working Class Unity and Black Liberation” which was adopted by the Second Congress of the OL.

Subjects under discussion included: the Black United Front, the meaning of the right of self-determination, and the struggle for democratic rights. It was shown by participants in the conference that the Black United Front was a strategic weapon directed against imperialism in unity with the general movement of the working class. Led by the working class, the Black liberation movement can unite broad strata of Afro-American people in a common front.


The practice of the representatives at the conference pointed up the need for struggle within the united front struggle against the wavering and vacillating character of the bourgeois sections of the Black population. The Black bourgeoisie was seen as being split into two sections. One that was tied in every way to imperialism and another that was progressive and that could be united with to one degree or another. However, any degree of unity must be accompanied by the struggle for independence and initiative of the working class forces within that united front.

It was pointed out that since the Afro-American people have developed historically as an oppressed nation, concentrated in the slave areas of the country for more than 300 years and then driven from the land and dispersed throughout the industrial areas of the country, they are entitled to full democratic rights, including the right of self-determination up to and including the right to secede.

“The right of self-determination” one representative said, “does not mean that we support Black people splitting or forming their own nation-state in the South. On the contrary, the conditions of today point to the increasing possibilities and necessity for a common struggle of Black people with the rest of the working class for the overthrow of the capitalist system throughout the country.”


Another representative at the conference pointed out that the main focus of the struggle for self-determination today is the fight for “full equality and democratic rights with the workers in the forefront.”

The rest of the day and most of the following day was devoted to examining practical work. Community work is being carried out in a number of industrial centers. Struggles of particular importance coming under examination included the fight against police repression and the African liberation support movement.

One example drawn of the anti-repression struggle facing Black people was the Atlanta struggle against the fascist, racist policies of the police and their leader Chief Inman. The struggle against Inman and continuing police murder is a part of a nationwide attack on the rights of Black and other minority people. The Conference saw videotaped highlights of the demonstrations and other activity that have been carried out in recent weeks.

The role of communists was examined as well as the line and policies being put forth by other segments of the population and their spokesmen, such as Hosea Williams c SCLC who is a representative of the progressive wing of the Black bourgeoisie.

Other work discussed ranged from community struggles against police in Oakland and Berkeley to struggles in Chicago factories for the right to celebrate the birthdays of Black leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and the African liberation support movement.


Finally, the conference focused in on the problems of building a multi-national communist party and a pre-party organization such as the OL, where communists of all nationalities fight together as one. The discussion was frank and criticisms were made of certain aspects of chauvinism in our organizational work. The need was stressed to form a core of Afro-American leadership within our ranks, and to carry out special educational work and training programs towards that end. The conference was only a beginning in this effort. The line and practice of the revisionist Communist Party and other organizations were examined and it was shown how opportunist lines on the Black struggle manifested themselves in disunity among the members of these organizations. This has led to splits and a lack of democratic-centralism in these groups.

It was shown how the fight against white chauvinism has to be waged consistently within our ranks just as it must be waged among the masses. This must be carried out militantly and in the spirit of unity.

It was felt by all who attended that this Conference on Afro-American struggle was an important step in furthering our understanding and practice and in raising the level of unity of all comrades.