First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 10, March 14, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) March 8, 2,000 men and women of many nationalities marched in force in four regional demonstrations. They were led by the October League and other Marxist-Leninist organizations.
The largest action was held in New York where the crowd swelled to 1,000 as the marchers passed through the Puerto Rican community of the Lower East Side on their way to the United Nations Building. Led by a sound truck with bright red flags flying everywhere, the march stopped at different times to organize brief rallies among the supporters gathered on the sidewalks.
Signs of the intense preparation activity done by a pre-march work team were all along the route. IWD and Azania posters were plastered everywhere. For two weeks leading up to the march, the work team went door-to-door in the large housing projects explaining the slogans and the importance of the fight for women’s equality as part of the revolutionary struggle against imperialism.
Especially in the Puerto Rican community, the demand for independence for Puerto Rico was enthusiastically welcomed. The demonstration was characterized by its high level of unity, militancy and strong internationalism.
The chant “Victory to the PAC” rang out as the representative of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Elizabeth Sibeko, rose to speak to the crowd. She spoke of the struggles raging in Azania “against the settler regime and the confusion brought on by the revisionists who try to divide the fighting people of Azania.”
“We are fighting an armed struggle,” she concluded, “and we are fighting side by side with our men.”
Eileen Klehr, Vice-Chairman of the October League, led the chants, “Support for the third world people’s struggles!” and “Down with the two superpowers!” before giving her speech. ”We raise the slogan ’Full equality for women!’ to overthrow all oppression and exploitation,” she said. “Women’s fight for liberation is a part of the struggle of the working class and the oppressed nationalities to overthrow the capitalist system. The struggle of women requires genuine revolutionary leadership, and it must lead us against the agents of imperialism that have tried to mislead us.”
“The formation of the new communist party,” Klehr stressed, “will be a great victory for the women’s struggle. It signals the inevitable downfall of the imperialists and their agents.”
Daisy Crawford, worker and union organizer at Cannon Mills, North Carolina, described the role working women, particularly minority women, are playing in the class struggle. She sharply denounced the labor bureaucrats and the revisionists of the Communist Party (USA) who have done nothing but sabotage the people’s struggles.
Anti-imperialist solidarity messages were given by the Iranian Students Association U.S. and the Organisation Revolutionnaire 18 Mai, a revolutionary Haitian organization.
The demonstration was a great success and a great advance over last year’s. This was a fact the state noticed as well. The police shut off the sound system early on at the rally and then attempted to stop it entirely. But despite their threats to move against the marchers, the police were forced to retreat.
In San Francisco, 500 people rallied in Dolores Park, in the largely Latino community called the Mission District. The multinational gathering, mainly working-class heard speeches from a Black woman auto worker from GM Fremont, a Mexicana woman from the Davis Pleating factory in Los Angeles, and the October League. Solidarity messages were given by the Iranian Students Association of Northern California and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Many people from the community were mobilized to join the march and rally through house meetings and door-to-door canvassing by the local planning committee.
In Chicago, 225 people marched in the shadow of the steel mills in freezing weather. Hundreds of Calls were sold during the march through this working-class community on Chicago’s South Side.
At an indoor rally, Mary Smith from the National Fight Back Organization, a Chicana worker from Capitol Packaging Company, and an October League representative gave speeches.
Another 225 people marched in Atlanta. Despite pouring rain, the crowd voted to march. There was a Lolita Lebron contingent from West Virginia, and participants from the People for Justice for Prisoners, the Ethiopian Students Union, the Eritrean Students Association of North America, and the Communist Youth Organization and John Marshall from the Tampa Fight Back Organization.
This year’s demonstrations represent a great victory in the struggle to build a revolutionary movement for women’s equality, firmly linked to the fight against imperialism and all oppression. The multi-national character of the marches and rallies and their strong internationalist stand stood out clearly. In addition, all events were translated into Spanish.
The large numbers of workers and minorities who participated in and helped build these demonstrations testify to the fact that our new party is being forged in the heat of struggle and will be made up of strong working-class fighters of all nationalities. It will be firmly dedicated to the fight for the liberation of women and all oppressed people.