First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 4, January 31, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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More than 125 activists gathered for the first regional meeting in Baltimore, Jan. 15.
This militant gathering took place as Jimmy Carter’s inauguration spectacle was getting underway in the capital. The Conference made it clear that Carter’s liberal talk and his new cabinet offer no basic changes for the working class. High unemployment, more attacks on the living standards of the working people and intensified war preparations will continue under the new administration.
October League member Larry Miller, representing the NFBO’s Steering Committee, pointed out how Fightback activists had seen from their own experiences what the promises of the liberals and reformists are all about. Their aim is to divert workers from the path of mass action and revolutionary struggle.
In the many battles to win unemployment benefits and jobs over the past year, the NFBO distinguished its program clearly from dead-end, fake “solutions” like the Humphrey-Hawkins bill. This bill, praised by the labor bureaucrats, the revisionists of the Communist Party (CPUSA) and the liberals, calls for a “reduction in unemployment” without providing for a single new job.
Baltimore Fight Back Committee members spoke out at the meeting about their own experiences with the liberals and reformists. They told of organizing demonstrations against the City Council to protest the allotment of $15 million to a luxury aquarium when no city funds were being put into jobs programs.
Several city councilmen stepped forward to stop the militant actions with promises of jobs. One councilman even tried to bribe Fightback leaders by offering them jobs individually. But these tactics failed, and the fight in Baltimore is going forward to win “Jobs or Income Now!”
Larry Miller’s speech also stressed the importance of uniting the struggles of the employed and unemployed, especially in the fight for jobs. He emphasized unity against the trade union bureaucrats, who act as capitalism’s agents inside the workers’ movement and have liquidated the fight for jobs.
Miller called on the NFBO to join the October League-initiated demonstration planned for May outside the United Auto Workers convention in Los Angeles. Support for this demonstration, he added, would be a concrete step in exposing the labor misleaders.
In another major presentation to the Conference, North Carolina labor organizer Daisy Crawford spoke out against both the reformists and the revisionists for their attacks on the workers’ struggles. She characterized their bankrupt strategy as “Don’t demonstrate, listen to the lawyers, rely on the judge.”
Speaking about the fight to free frame-up victim Ronnie Long and organize the thousands of textile workers in North Carolina, Crawford stressed the need to build unity between white and Black workers and rely on the masses of people. “We need a fighting alliance,” she explained, “between the workers’ movement and the Black liberation struggle as the best weapon to smash all capitalist oppressors.”
The regional conference struck a great blow for this type of working-class unity when participants unanimously adopted a resolution calling for self-determination for the Afro-American nation.
Fight Back committees around the country have been building actively to free Gary Tyler. They took up a special study campaign two months ago to deepen their understanding of the history and development of the Afro-American people. The resolution on self-determination was a product of study and mass struggle against national oppression.
The Conference also included a workshop on deportations, and the entire meeting was translated into Spanish, providing further examples of the NFBO’s struggle against all forms of national oppression.