Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bill Evers

Campus Venceremos Splits

First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 160, Issue 1, 27 September 1971.
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.

About half of the Stanford campus contingent of Venceremos, a San Francisco Peninsula revolutionary communist group, left the organization this summer and re-emerged as an all-white “intercommunal” subgroup of the Oakland Black Panther Party.

The division and secession came after the Venceremos central committee decided that the activities and policies of the Oakland Panthers (headed by Huey Newton, David Hilliard and Bobby Seale) were “revisionist.”

The group which left Venceremos is now called the Intercommunal Survival Committee (ISC) of the Black Panther Party.

In a decision which may have important repercussions for events at Stanford this fall, the newly-formed ISC has decided that its members will concentrate on the sort of community service programs and welfare rights advocacy that the Oakland Panthers have been engaged in since they broke with Eldridge Cleaver, rather than organizing around the disciplinary hearing of suspended Associate Professor of English H. Bruce Franklin, who is a member of the central committee of Venceremos.

Franklin faces possible dismissal from his position on the faculty for his alleged participation last academic year in the disruption of Henry Cabot Lodge’s speech and in various activities at the time of campus troubles over the Computation Center.

“Other Priorities”

Miriam Cherry, who works on campus in association with the Roman Catholic Newman Center in Palo Alto, and who after she left Venceremos, became a leading figure in the ISC, told The Daily:

“We have other priorities, We don’t see spending a lot of time fighting–by leafleting, in rallies, going to Bruce’s class–to fight for a white male intellectual’s job, when we know there are people sitting on death row. We want to free those people on death row now. That takes a lot of work, arduous work, every day . . .We have to question Bruce’s contributions, in terms of the revolution, by staying here at Stanford.”

Thus, on campus, the split revolves around the leadership and practical guidance of two important Stanford revolutionaries: Franklin and Cherry. In addition, the split reflects some of the organizational difficulties inherent in a project which both those who still remain in Venceremos and those who have left share as a goal. This project is the creation of a multi-racial, revolutionary political organization, which as a matter of principle for them is to be headed by non-whites.

“Racist Sissies”

At the time of the split, the brown members of the Venceremos central committee denounced those who had left the organization as “racist sissies” and “oppressors.”

They made two major points in their argument. First, they said that any white radical who is not in the multi-national–and Third World controlled–democratic-centralist organization in his geographical area is objectively a racist and an oppressor. (This was said before those who left had affiliated formally with the Oakland Panthers.)

Venceremos also said that those who left had, after voluntarily pledging “to be duty-bound by the Third World leadership and Third World comrades of Venceremos,” gone against the Third World membership, which unanimously agreed with the critique of the Oakland Panthers. On the other hand, the ISC group considered that its Third World command came from the vanguard Black Panther Party.

The second point made by the brown members of the Venceremos central committee was that those who left Venceremos are “sissies” because they believe (as the Oakland Black Panthers do) that in the present situation, political and “military” (i.e., terrorist) cadre should be separate from one another and because they have chosen to be political cadre, working in community service programs. Venceremos believes that the “absolutely correct strategy for revolutionary armed struggle in the U.S.” is “protracted war based on urban guerrilla warfare.”

Panthers Criticized

The Venceremos position paper critiquing the Oakland Panthers states: “George Jackson [who before his death was a member of the Oakland faction of the Panthers] stresses the need for a total separation between political work, which consists of serve-the-people programs in no way related to guns, and military work, which is undertaken spontaneously by the masses who form decentralized guerrilla units.”

“Any connection between the political and military aspects would merely give the pigs an excuse to attack our political projects. This line represents a complete cop-out by the party in its main responsibility in military affairs to provide concrete political leadership.”

In contrast, members of the ISC see as their most important political task setting up voluntary welfare programs, especially in the areas of health services (sickle-cell anemia tests, training technicians from out of the poor population), prisoners’ support (busing friends and relatives to visit those in jail, writing to prisoners), repair services (from repair of broken plumbing, automobiles, and electrical systems), and youth-oriented services (for example, their Marie Hill child care program in Sunnyvale, named after a mentally-unbalanced young black woman sentenced to death–but not yet executed–in North Carolina in 1968 for the murder of a white grocer).

ISC members say they believe in self-defense, which for them means defending “survival programs,” like these community service programs. But they do not approve of “revolutionary cultists” brandishing guns to provoke the police.