First Published: The Call, Vol. 3, No. 4, January 1975.
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.
Thousands of people, primarily workers and minorities, gathered in militant actions throughout the country last month, during the National Days of Resistance to Repression.
Initiated by the October League to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, the National Days of Resistance to Repression served as a warning to the ruling class that the continued increase in repression and open terror against the working class and oppressed people would only lead to heightened resistance.
The Days of Resistance were not simply days of mourning for our fallen comrades, but rather they were days of militant speeches and actions uniting workers and oppressed minorities in struggle. One of the main features of the programs was the opposition built to the racist attacks against Blacks and other minorities in Boston. People involved in various anti-repression campaigns spoke, and film showings.
As well as other cultural events, were held. A summary follows. In Atlanta, Ga., some 300 people gathered on December 6 for a program called by the Fred Hampton Day Organizing Committee, composed of the Atlanta Anti-Repression Coalition and several rank-and-file caucuses, community people and progressive organizations as well as the October League. The program was followed the next day by a march of 200 people, despite a torrential rain. The main themes of the march were, “Unite to Fight Repression;” “Stop Attacks on All Oppressed People;” and “Self-Determination for the Afro-American People.” The march was endorsed by members of AFSCME, CWA and other unions; the National Black Communications Coalition; Coalition of Labor Union Women; the Atlanta Labor Action Alliance; and a Black labor group in Greensboro, North Carolina. Other supporters included Rev. Hosea Williams, Rev. Stafford, Rev. Joe Boone, Georgia Power Project, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Great Speckled Bird newspaper.
Speakers at the rally included Mrs. Idella Gibson, whose 17-year-old son Brandon was murdered by Atlanta police; Jehu, from the October League; a member of the Black Workers Congress, who called for a fight-back against the attack on the living standards of the workers; Teddy Tread-well, a Black woman worker who exposed the treacherous role of the reactionary labor leaders; and James Matthews of the Leavenworth Brothers Defense Committee.
Jehu, a leader of the October League in the Boston area, explained the events in Boston as being a result of the decline of imperialism, a system locked in a great crisis. Throughout his speech Jehu emphasized the need to light the seeds of fascism which were emerging in the racist anti-busing movement.
He pointed to the outstanding example of the people of Columbia Point who picked up guns to defend their community from racist attacks. He concluded by calling for a broad national movement against repression and especially attacks on Third World people, “.. .linking the demands of such a movement to the demand for self-determination for the Afro-American people, independence for Puerto Rico, full democratic rights for the people of other national minorities in this country and linking them to the demand for better living and working conditions for working people and the fight for socialism.”
In Chicago, more than 250 people, most of them workers and minorities, gathered on the South Side, December 7 at the call of the newly-formed Chicago Anti-Repression Coalition. The coalition includes the Congress of Afrikan People; the Harold Dancy Defense Committee; the Illinois Prisoners Organization, and the October League.
Speakers from each group spoke to the rising tide of fascist attacks and called for a united struggle fought in a revolutionary way against these attacks. A guest speaker, Toni Jones, from the Boston Afro-American newspaper Struggle!, gave a report on the situation there and told how minorities in the housing projects at Columbia Point organized themselves into self-defense units against attacks by the KKK. She stressed the need for work among the white workers to win support for the democratic struggles of the minorities and an end to all national oppression. The Struggle! speaker also showed how many white housewives, concerned with the well-being of their children, fell victims to the racist propaganda of the anti-busing movement, because of an absence of work among them by revolutionaries and progressive forces.
A representative from the Harold Dancy Defense Committee brought news of the victory they recently won, when Harold Dancy was freed from the racist frame-up charges of murder. The speaker pointed to this victory as an example of the fact that repression and the growing fascist threat can be smashed by the people.
The speaker from the Illinois Prisoners Association, which also gave a fundraising dance sponsored by the coalition, stressed the racist nature of the prison system and the need to support the movements for prisoners’ rights.
The CAP speaker received a standing ovation for the stirring way he pointed to who the real criminals are in this society. As he said, “If a poor man steals a wallet, he goes to jail for years of his life, but if Nixon steals millions of dollars he gets a free pardon and a pension of $60,000 a year.”
Daniel Sanchez who spoke for the October League warned of the rising fascist tide. Sanchez pointed out that while fascism has not won its victory here yet, the developing in-crease in police terror, union busting and repression against working and minority people should be taken as a serious, warning. As long as capitalism exists, this threat will be with us.
All the speakers were Black or Latin and all spoke with special intensity about the way the economic crisis and the rise in repression fell heaviest on the minorities and the need for a united front struggle against fascism and imperialism. The film, “The Murder of Fred Hampton” was also shown, which exposed the fact that the former Panther leader from Chicago was definitely murdered by the police in an attempt to smash the Black Liberation Movement. Fred Hampton stood for revolution, class struggle and unity among oppressed peoples.
On the same weekend in Chicago, also in commemoration of the death of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, another coalition held a forum at which one of the Attica Brothers spoke, along with speakers from the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Fred Hampton Scholarship Fund, and Rising Up Angry. They stressed that this was not a time for mourning, but a time for action against the system which murdered the Panthers and the Attica Brothers.
In Cincinnati, the death of Fred Hampton was marked by a public meeting Dec. 8, sponsored by the October League. The film, “The Police Attack – The People Fight Back” produced by the Atlanta Anti-Repression Coalition, was shown to demonstrate that repression breeds resistance. In the discussion that followed, speakers laid the blame for police terror on the capitalist class and its crisis and called for revolutionary leadership in the fight-back.
Attention was also focused on the new “shoot-to-kill” policy of the Cincinnati police which includes making “dumdum” bullets standard police equipment. A movement is building in this city to oppose these fascist measures.
In Tampa, Florida, on December 7, people from all over the state gathered to call for heightened resistance to repression and to demand an end to racist police terror.
Beginning at noon, a spirited picket line was held in front of the Tampa police station. Following this, over 100 people gathered for a rally in the Black community. Speakers included representatives of the African Socialist Party, Black Organizing Project, Malcolm X United Liberation Front, SCLC, Revolutionary Student Brigade (Gainesville), Student Anti-Imperialist League (Tallahassee) and the October League.
They pointed to historic oppression and resistance of Black people and the need to organize to combat the fascist tide as well as upholding the right of self-determination for oppressed nations.
Support was called forth for the Jackson family whose members were beaten, arrested, and shot by police while standing up for the rights of their people. Following the speeches, a march was held through the community led by chants of “Free the Jackson Family,” and “Stop, Stop, the Racist Cops of Tampa!” People came out of their homes to join the marchers who then returned to the community center where they saw a film on the Oneita textile strike.
In Detroit, more than 160 people gathered to demand an end to police terror and to hear speakers call for resistance to the rising fascist tide. The film, “The Murder of Fred Hampton,” was shown as well as parts of a film on the struggle of the farmworkers in California.
Speakers included Jehu from the Boston October League; Susan Branson from the Brookside Women’s Club in Harlan County, Ky.; a representative from African Liberation Support Committee; a leader of the Detroit United Farm Workers Boycott Committee and a speaker from Hamtramck, a community where a series of police attacks have recently taken place.
In Los Angeles, a meeting of 130 people was held on December 14 to hear speakers from the Black and Chicano communities call for a fight back against racist police repression. The program combined speeches with the film, “The Police Attack – The People Fight Back” and an original skit performed by OL members and members of the community.
Speakers included Raul Ruiz, a leader of La Raza Unida Party; Valerie, a representative of the Tony Wilkins Defense Committee; Darrell who spoke for the Shorts family of Pico Aliso Community, whose son Fred was murdered in a racist police shooting; and Earl Massey from the OL.
Ruiz stressed the need for unity between Black and Chicano communities, which have long been the target of police attempts to spread division and inter-community violence.
Earl Massey detailed the wave of police repression which has hit the Black and other minority communities across the country. But he showed that in every community where this has taken place, the people have organized strong movements for defense against killer cops and terror. He linked the oppression of Black people to the history of national oppression in the former slave areas of the South pointing out the need for Black and white to unite around the fight for Afro-American self-determination.
The skit dramatically portrayed the history of repression against Black people beginning with the arrival of slave ships in the 17th century and continuing through slavery and reconstruction in the South. The skit concluded with scenes from the modern-day struggle for freedom in the factories and communities. Although the players were not professionals, they skillfully combined dance, poetry and songs to give the audience a vivid impression of Black oppression and their liberation struggle. It was received with a standing ovation.
In Oakland, a forum sponsored by THE CALL drew 125 people to hear songs, poetry and speeches in support of the anti-repression struggle. Lorenzo Carlisle, a Black worker from Caterpillar Corp. spoke about the anti-discrimination struggle in the factories. He described the lawsuits being filed for the enforcement of equal rights. He said that these law suits were only one form of struggle and had to be combined with other mass, militant efforts on the part of the workers.
A white worker from the Holiday Inn strike spoke about Black-white unity being the key to victory. Farmworker songs were sung at the forum by Marina Garcia and Ruth Hyde read a poem by Langston Hughes, the great Afro-American poet, which was a call to white workers to support the Black liberation struggle. The Atlanta Anti-Repression film was also shown.
Odis Hyde spoke on the question of self-determination for Afro-American people and told of the long, bloody history of the KKK as an arm of fascism directed against the Black struggle. Sharply criticizing the stand of the Revolutionary Union (RU) in support of the racist anti-busing movement, he exposed them as “super-revolutionaries” who “marched with the KKK.”
In New York, the OL participated in a program sponsored by the Coalition Against Repression which attracted 200 people in Harlem.
Speakers at the meeting included a representative from the Committee for Justice for Claude Reese, Jr., a Black youth murdered by police; James Young from the Commandos, a Harlem community youth group, and Brother Tyrene from Congress of Afrikan People. The Fred Hampton film was shown and many community people spoke up about W need for united action against repression.
In Baltimore, behind the slogans of “Self-Determination for Black People”, “Unite to Stop the Fascist Tide”, and “Stop Attacks on Minorities and Women” 175 people gathered, including many workers and minorities, for a rally sponsored by CAP, Black Workers Congress, National Welfare Rights, Local 1199, community people speaking out oh the busing question and the October League.
In New Orleans, a demonstration was called by the New Orleans Housing Coalition on Dec. 8 in Congo Square, the former slave market. The demonstration was called around the slogans, “People Have a Right to Decent Housing”, “Unite to Fight Repression” and “Self-Determination for Afro-Americans”. More than 150 people heard Fran Brown of the BWC; a speaker from the Parkchester Community Committee and Bob Davis from the October League speak on the fight against repression. A support message from ALSC was read. This was the first activity of the newly-formed NOHC.