Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Viewpoint Organization

Brief History of ALSC’s Program of Work

First Published: Workers Viewpoint Supplement, July 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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“Historical experience merits attention.” In our efforts to build the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC), there are many lessons that can be learned from the history of the ALSC itself. Particularly, how correct methods of work and leadership, encouraging debate and struggle within the ALSC, pushes forward the work of supporting liberation movements and building up the ALSC.

A brief sketch of the History of the ALSC reveals a number of these lessons.

The historic first African Liberation Day (ALD) march and rally in 1972, centered in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Canada and the Caribbean was a tremendous success. Over 80,000 people demonstrated their support for the African liberation struggles. Carried out under the leadership of the African Liberation Day Coordinating Committee (ALDCC), it was solid proof that the Afro-American people supported the African liberation movements and had anti-imperialist solidarity with the just struggles of pressed people the world over.

This first ALD march and rally was a temporary united front made up of different classes and strata in the Afro-American community. The united front was set up to have a huge demonstration on the last weekend of May 1972. With this purpose, the united front called itself the African Liberation Day Coordinating Committee (ALDCC). Though there were different classes and strata from the black community in the ALDCC, the hard working core and leadership was provided by honest forces among the Pan Africanists.

This Pan Africanist trend saw Black People the world over as “Africans” and saw the principal focus of struggle for Black people, wherever they were, as the liberation of the African continent. By carrying out the day to day work of propaganda and agitation and organizing the masses (workers, students, community activists), they were able to gather endorsements from numerous Black politicians and movement “personalities” and form the ALDCC. But the character and program of the ALD was clearly guided and defined by the Pan Africanist and nationalist core that originated the idea and carried out the work.

Although endorsed by politicians like Congressmen Charles Diggs and William Faunteroy, numerous Black intellectuals, the Black Panther Party and many others, none of these members or the ALDCC did any work toward building for the event. They did allow their names to be used – which helped to broaden the base of the event. But, many of the endorsers of the ALDCC only allowed their names to be used or to affiliate with the event, after it became absolutely clear that the event would be supported by the masses. Many of them, like Jesse Jackson, for example, refused to be associated until the last minute. Even “the brave fearless leader” Stokely Carmichael originally opposed the idea on the basis that Black people were not marching and picketing anymore – “a sure request to get beaten by the police.”

Despite the reservations and hesitations of many persons, (called at that time “the prophets of negativism”) the Pan Africanist and nationalist core pushed forward, relied on the masses, and built a successful event.


Following on the heels of the successful 1972 ALD, it was decided to end the ALDCC, and form an ongoing mass organization that could carry on work throughout the year. Thus, the ALSC was born.

Summing up that the success of the first ALD was due mainly to the work of the local groups of activists, workers and students, and faced with the task of building up an active ongoing ALSC, the decision was made to carry out the ALD 73 events on a local level. In this way, building local marches and rallies would further unleash the initiative of the local committees and more firmly root them in their local communities.

The national program consisted of carrying out seminars on the nature of the African liberation movements, raising funds for the liberation struggles through the United African Appeal (UAA), and collecting materials (medical, clothing, radio equipment, etc. ) for the liberation movements. Many local committees learned that correct methods of work and leadership were essential to building up the committees and gaining support from the masses for the ALSC program.

Local activities ranged from street corner and shopping center tables to agitate and collect money for the United African Appeal to doing propaganda and educational seminars, for church and community groups. Many committees not only carried out large demonstrations against Gulf Oil, but also engaged in one to one conversations, door to door collections, and discussions with interested families.

Showing boundless creativity, local committees organized medical students to collect medical supplies, and other student groups to hold dances and numerous fund raising events to collect money for the ALSC and the UAA.

The local committees carried forward the ALSC program by involving the masses, unleashing their initiative, and at the same time learning from the masses. It was through this type work, that ALSC was able to learn the concerns, questions and suggestions of the masses about the ALSC work.

Based on the work of the local committees, ALD 1973 was a tremendous success, as demonstrations were held in over 26 cities and over 50 local committees were formed and strengthened. From the pockets of the masses themselves $40,000 was raised for the UAA and contributed to the liberation movements from the ALSC and the U.S. masses. African Liberation Day truly began to become rooted in the hearts and minds of the masses and scores of advanced elements from the Black Liberation movement were won to the program of the ALSC.


The 1973 ALD events themselves reflected the development and maturing of different trends inside ALSC, and the forthcoming struggle around which trend would guide the work and program of the ALSC. In some areas, the main theme of the ALD events was incorrectly to “oppose all Europeans the world over,” while in other areas, the theme was correctly directed at opposing the imperialist system, particularly U.S. multinational corporations.

In the course of carrying out the ALSC program, many committees began to learn from the liberation movements’ advice that the most fundamental support that we could give was to struggle against the U.S. monopoly capitalists and unite with all the revolutionary peoples in the U.S. These committees also began to learn from the developing anti-revisionist communist movement in the U.S. and from the Afro-American masses themselves. These crucial lessons led the committees to take up the serious study of Marxism- Leninism-Mao Tse tung Thought.

Boycotting against Gulf Oil stimulated many ALSC members to study imperialism in a serious way. Trying to answer the Afro-American masses’ questions as to the nature of the relationship between their struggles and the African liberation movements, and more pointedly their questions about “what are we doing about the conditions here?”, forced many advanced elements to re-evaluate their former Pan Africanist positions to take a more clear-headed view of the concrete reality of the U.S. revolution. For instance, how to deal with the narrow position of only passing out leaflets to Black workers and not White workers? These questions gave rise to the two-line struggle inside ALSC; “whether to unite with the multi-national working class or confine the work to Afro-Americans only?”.

This two line struggle had tremendous implications for the work of the ALSC and its program. Some of the programmatic issues at stake were: Whether ALSC was to oppose imperialism as well as racism; to build unity with white workers and all oppressed people; do support work for liberation struggles outside of Africa; and link up the struggles against imperialism elsewhere with issues in the US?

Petty-bourgeois nationalists, such as Stokely Carmichael, refused to learn from the masses, and opposed the forward progress of the ALSC at every step.

Throughout the year the struggles were waged not only inside ALSC, but inside the entire Black Liberation Movement, as they became the most widely talked about topic wherever advanced political activists were to be found. So stimulating and important were the struggles that the May 1974 ALD march and demonstration was scheduled for Washington, D.C. again, in order to carry out a national conference on the topic “Which Road for the Black Liberation Movement?”

The early stages of this struggle were very fruitful as position papers the two views were written on the subject, forums organized, and hundreds of brothers and sisters had their political understanding raised about the nature of imperialism, racism, the nature of the U.S. revolution, the class structure of the Afro-American people, the friends and allies of the Black Liberation Movement. The petty bourgeois nationalist forces wanted to divide the Afro-American liberation movement from the multi-national working class. They wanted to take the Afro-American masses on a “dream world” to Africa and stop fighting oppression in the U.S. The narrow nationalists were thoroughly defeated.

The ALD 1974 was a tremendous success, as a weekend of demonstrations against imperialism and fruitful workshops consolidated the ALSC more and pushed forward the work tenfold.


Summed up in the title, “Which Road ... ?”, the substance of the struggle at the 1974 Conference was: The advanced elements should take the road of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and not the reactionary narrow nationalist road.

This struggle had been going on since the 1973 ALD, and the ’74 Conference capped it off. Those advanced elements in the ALSC who had moved on from Pan Africanism towards Marxism scored a total ideological and organizational victory over the reactionary petty bourgeois nationalists, and definitely broke with them. The Conference left Stokely Carmichael looking like a total fool.

The leadership’s advance towards Marxism was the most important turning point in the ALSC’s entire history. Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought began to throw a whole new light and direction on the work of the ALSC, as soon as the leading activists began to apply it. This turn towards Marxism set the solid basis for the ALSC’s work in 1974 around domestic issues like the “oil crisis”, police repression and support-work for workers’ struggles, and its boycott of Rhodesian chrome that same year; it also set the basis for the work against unemployment, inflation and budget cuts in the 1975 ALD. Through twists and turns, this Marxist leadership has continued to build-and consolidate the ALSC to the present, symbolized by the victorious 1977 ALD.

In 1974, the ALSC committee in Houston took up work with longshoremen, invited them to ALSC events and won them to boycott Rhodesian chrome. This followed the work of Southern University students who had won longshoremen in Burnside, Louisiana to refuse to unload Rhodesian chrome in that area.

The support committee in Washington, D.C. took up the struggle of government employees and striking maintenance workers.

In New York, the ALSC joined in the struggle to protest the murder of an Afro-American youth by the N.Y. police department.

In Denver, the ALSC carried out concrete support for Chicano women protesting against the brutal treatment by the Welfare Department, by joining the picket lines, mobilizing for a demonstration, and speaking in support of the struggle.

The Denver committee distributed numerous pamphlets and leaflets for “Week of Solidarity with the Struggles of the Southern African Peoples Against Portuguese Colonialism”. In addition, a forum, a film festival and a dinner was held, which over 500 people attended.

Various forms of propaganda and agitation were used during the dinner. A national ALSC spokesperson attended the dinner and unfolded why the struggle must be against the system of imperialism. Local Denver community activists spoke as to why they were in support of the ALSC and ALD. A group of youth performed African dances and songs about the attempts of Portugal to colonize Africa. This helped to build a broad base of support for the ALSC amongst all stratum of the Afro-American community and amongst other oppressed nationalities.

The support committee in Greensboro, N. C., sponsored forums on the energy “crisis,” took up struggle against utility companies by building a coalition to oppose price hikes, which found wide support amongst white working class families. The campaign against the energy oil “crisis” linked tightly the struggles of U.S. workers and the struggles of the African liberation movements, as Gulf Oil’s support for the fascist Portuguese regime was pointed out in the course of exposing the gasoline price hikes, ripping off U.S. workers and oppressed people.

This further helped to deepen the work of ALSC not only amongst the Afro-American masses, but also amongst other oppressed nationalities and workers. Multi-national support for the liberation movements under the leadership of the ALSC began to be built such that the 1975 ALD, once again in local areas, was clearly multinational and enjoyed the support and solidarity of the advanced forces from all the national movements and the working class.


An essential factor for deepening the work of the ALSC was the correct handling of propaganda and agitation, in order to win the most politically conscious, raise their level and at the same time rally the broad masses. Many different forms of agitation and propaganda were utilized to carry out this task.

Agitational work was a tremendous factor bringing forward the masses. Local demonstrations around concrete issues, like against the importation of Rhodesian Chrome, Portuguese wine and South African coal helped to raise the issues to the masses. Concrete domestic issues, such as demonstrating against Chase Manhattan bank, against police brutality, and against the energy “crisis” helped to link up the issues in a live way.

As important in bringing forward the masses were the dances, fundraisers, even special nights at bars, that reached the broad masses.

Propaganda work such as pamphlets on the two-line struggle inside ALSC, pamphlets on the liberation movements, the Oil “crisis;” etc., forums and educational seminars, film showings, speeches and conferences, were a few of the propaganda forms utilized to raise the political level of ALSC members and advanced forces, thereby consolidating them more tightly to the ALS.C program.

In many situations these forms were combined, such as the “week of solidarity with the liberation movements against Portuguese Colonialism” in which demonstrations, culture, forums, film showings, etc. were combined. ALSC “handbooks of struggle” were issued to give guidance to the work of local committees and those interested in setting up committees and carrying out the ALSC work.


Historical experience merits attention! The history of ALSC has been one of the correct line, methods of work and leadership, pushing it forward. These are invaluable lessons for those interested in building the ALSC. We must continue to learn from the fine tradition of the ALSC. Learning from the masses and relying on them, the ALSC will continue to flourish, give genuine support to the African liberation struggles and win ever broader numbers to its program.