First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 1, January 10, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Chicago–Below-freezing temperatures could not chill the revolutionary spirit and enthusiasm of the more than 200 young people who gathered in Chicago last week for the Second National Convention of the Communist Youth Organization (CYO).
These delegates, coming from every area of the country, were largely from the ranks of young workers and oppressed minority youth. They summed up their work over the last year, laid plans for 1977 and elected a core of leadership for the CYO National Steering Committee.
The convention received international greetings from young activists from Mexico, from the Communist Youth Federation of Germany, and from the Canadian Communist League (ML) (CCL).
The CCL representative received a standing ovation when she presented the CYO with a gift and said: “Comrades, we are brothers and sisters in the struggle against imperialism and social-imperialism, in the struggle for the victory of socialism. We have much to share and learn from each other. We must continue to strengthen our fraternal ties.”
Fraternal messages of solidarity were also delivered by several of the organizations within the Organizing Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party, including the October League. OL Chairman Michael Klonsky called for the “closest and warmest fraternal relations” between the CYO and the new communist party that will be founded in the next few months.
He said: “To the party, the youth organization of communists is a mighty reserve and training school for young communists to fill the ranks of the party and become successors in the great communist tradition of our class.”
Greetings were also expressed from the People’s Defense Committee of New Orleans; the Ronnie Long Defense Committee, Concord, N.C; the People United for Justice for Prisoners, Dallas, Texas, and the National Fight Back Organization.
Mary Smith, representing the NFBO, traced her struggle of more than 50 years from the plantations of the Black Belt South to the urban ghetto of Chicago. In conclusion, she said: “Black people can only win their liberation through socialism and self-determination,” and called on the youth to energetically take up this struggle.
A message from political prisoner Gary Tyler was also given by a representative from the Desire Housing Projects in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The message said: “We have to open peoples’ eyes, starting off with the youth. When the elders see what the youth are into, they will take up the struggle. I hope the CYO will keep up the struggle, making more people aware of what’s happening. People will really be at a loss if they don’t know how the system functions. Our only means of making people aware is by explaining things to them deeply. We are depending on changing things for the future.
We can’t depend on our parents. We’ve got to make our own decisions–our own future.”
Roy Smith, who was re-elected CYO National Chairman, made the main speech, summing up the advances of the organization over the past year and drawing the lessons of those experiences. Smith stressed the need for the CYO to develop a fighting-program to guide its work. He also called on CYO members to link the struggle against U.S. imperialism with the international movement against both superpowers and particularly in solidarity with the struggle of the third world.
Smith also stated the CYO’s stand in support of the Communist Party of China in its struggle against the counter-revolutionary “gang of four,” saying, “The CYO will not be a ’sometime’ friend of China, but will be its stalwart ally.”
The CYO adopted the first half of its national program, the latter half to be studied and adopted later in the year. The sections so far adopted declare the CYO to be ”a mass organization of advanced youth dedicated to making socialist revolution.” It states: “We are part of the world-wide communist movement. The CYO is a school of communism which trains youth in the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. Our task is to lead and organize the youth and students to participate in the struggle of the working class to overthrow imperialism and establish socialism.”
The program strongly denounced the revisionists of the Communist Party USA and their youth organization, the Young Workers Liberation League, saying: “Under the guise of Marxism-Leninism, these agents of imperialism preach the peaceful road to socialism and, in fact, practice fascism.”
Workshops were held on a broad number of topics ranging from revolutionary culture and women’s emancipation to the international situation and the national question. A cultural night and New Year’s Eve Party were also held.
Along with Roy Smith, Vice-Chairperson Marja Wessels was also, re-elected. A National Steering Committee was elected with members from every area of the country. The body also welcomed the news that the CYO will begin to publish a regular newsletter.
As the convention drew to a close, rank-and-file members from every city came to the microphone and spoke of the important advances they had made, promising to redouble their efforts in the coming year. Representatives from a city which hadn’t yet formed their CYO chapter said: “This convention has answered so many of our questions about how and why to build the CYO. Now we feel confident we can go home and rally many others around our organization.”
Roy Smith summed it up by saying: “We have come a long way this first year. But this next year, the backbone leadership will be strengthened and new leaders trained. Many youth are eager for socialism and we must build a strong CYO to organize them.”