Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

2,200 March on Capital – Demand Jobs Now!


First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 8, February 27, 1978.
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.

“We didn’t come here to beg for jobs,” declared Jobs or Income Now Coalition spokesman Leslie Dennis as he welcomed arriving contingents to Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. “We came here to raise hell!” And raise hell they did.

Already on Friday, Feb. 17, buses began to pour into D.C. They were loaded down with working people, poor people, young, old, men, women and many children/The people were chanting, singing and ready to fight.

They were joined on Saturday by hundreds more, including some 500 from Washington communities, where special work teams had spent weeks leafleting, postering, holding community meetings and local actions.

“I can’t believe my eyes,” a Chicana woman from L.A. told The Call. “The thousands of people who came here–it’s magnificent!”

Most significantly, the ranks of the marchers included large numbers of workers from every nationality. Well over half were from the oppressed nationalities –Afro-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiians. Their struggles against national oppression were firmly supported by the white workers who marched shoulder to shoulder beside them.

The colorful banners and hand-lettered signs reflected the broad character of the march– “Unlimited benefits for the jobless”; “Jobs and freedom for minorities”; “Fight for a short work week”; “Jobs for Youth”; “Smash the Bakke Decision”; and “We won’t move!”

The multitude of slogans showed that the crisis has hit different people in many different ways, but it has hit them all hard. The central demand for jobs or income was the key to uniting them all.

“I am marching because I want jobs–for me and my children,” said Virginia Cruz, mother of Rafael Cruz, who was slain by Chicago cops in last summer’s rebellion in the Puerto Rican barrio.

“I was fired from my job after five years there and went to jail for five years for standing up to the racist foreman,” Lee Williamson from Indiana told The Call. “I’m marching for jobs, to stop cut offs of benefits for laid-off people.”

“Very soon, I might not have a job,” said a Detroit auto worker. “Last year, we were working nine hours a day, six days a week; that made overproduction and they just don’t need us any more.”

From the moment people began arriving, Call distributors were on hand to reach everyone with revolutionary literature. In the park and all along the march route. Calls were everywhere, giving a communist view of the fight for jobs.

As people prepared to line up for the march, several speakers told the crowd about their struggles at home. Daisy Crawford, a textile worker from Cannon Mills in Concord, N.C., spoke of the long battle to organize the Cannon workers. She described the bosses’ attempts to use racism to divide them, keep their struggle weak, and pay slave wages to Black and white workers alike.

Willie Anderson, a disabled coal miner, urged everyone to support the 12-week-long coal strike, ’if they can break the back of the coal miners,” he pointed out, “they can break the back of working people all over this nation.”

The march began appropriately across the street from the White House. To no one’s surprise, the “man of the house” didn’t acknowledge his visitors.


And then the marchers began to move out–auto workers from Detroit and L.A., welfare mothers from Chicago, Fight Back activists from Bridgeport, Seattle, and dozens of other cities, tenants from D.C., veterans from Milwaukee, steelworkers from Indiana and Buffalo–their shouts filled the air.

“We’re steaming, we’re hot, we can’t be stopped!” they cheered as they paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue led by the D.C. contingent.

Rounding out the procession were two busloads of older people and others who could not walk the four-mile route but were determined not to miss this great day.

Past the District Building, the Internal Revenue Office and the new fortress-like FBI building, they marched. “There’s only one way, gotta make the system pay,” they chanted, as they passed the very headquarters of the state machinery used by the capitalists to oppress the people.

“Stop deportations, abajo con la migra!” they yelled as they passed the Justice Dept., which houses the office of the Immigration Service.

A few minutes’ pause at the Capitol Building gave demonstrators a chance to raise their voice in one mighty chorus. “We want jobs,” they chanted over and over, banners waving to the rhythm. A police barricade across the entire length of the Capitol steps made it clear that the “people’s representatives” were in no way interested in hearing their grievances.

From there, demonstrators made their way through the Capitol Hill section of Washington, a “redeveloped” area which only 10 to 15 years ago was a slum. Now poor people have been driven out to make way for the rich.


But within a few blocks, the renovated townhouses had given way to tumble-down slums as marchers moved into a Black working class neighborhood on their way to the Coliseum. To clenched fisted greetings and waves of solidarity from onlookers, they passed down 8th St., N.E., with its rundown store fronts, bars and pool halls.

“Grab a sign, get in line, let them know what’s on your mind,” the marchers sang, as many community people left their doorsteps and joined the demonstration. A group of workers at an autobody shop leaned out a second-story window and caught Calls thrown to them from the street below. They greeted the marchers with cheers and “Right ons!”

The same spirit of unity and militancy so apparent on the streets was also the theme of the rally which followed at the Coliseum. Over and over again, the people rose to their feet to express solidarity with each others’ struggles.

“Free Gary Tyler, Free Gary Tyler” echoed through the hall as his brother Terry called on everyone to build the movement demanding a reversal of his frame-up conviction.

“Support the miners’ fight, defend the right to strike,” was the chant as Walter Lawson, a Black coal miner and head of the Miners’ Defense Fund, rose to address the crowd.

Victor Matta, representing the National Fight Back Organization, was greeted with shouts of “Fight Back! A la lucha!” as he pointed out the importance of the day’s events in mobilizing the workers themselves to fight for what they need.

Matta called on everyone to take up the program of the National Fight Back Organization, which targets the capitalist system as the cause of unemployment, police repression, and every other hardship that workers face.

Other speakers included farmworker leader Philip Vera Cruz, welfare rights activist Annie Rogers, Tom Wynn of the National Black Veterans Assoc., Bob Gustafson of the United American Indians of New England and a representative of the Canadian Communist League (M-L).


In addition to giving his wholehearted support to the JOIN Coalition and the fight for jobs, veteran communist Odis Hyde stressed the need for a whole new system, where no child will ever cry for milk, no baby will ever burn in a ghetto slum.” Speaking for the Communist Party (M-L), which played a leading role in organizing the march, Hyde pointed out that unemployment will never be eliminated until we have socialism, until the people “seize control of this country and establish social justice.”

Hyde also pointed to the need to throw out the phony leaders from the workers’ movement in order to put it on the right track. He cited as an example George Meany, “the pimp, the phony, the traitor head of the American labor movement.”

Overall, there was no doubt among the demonstrators that the Feb. 18 action was a great success. Not only were people enthusiastic about the events of the day itself, they also emphasized the importance of the JOIN campaign in giving organization and leadership to the struggle so that it will continue and grow even bigger in the future.

“This struggle will continue when we get home,” a Chicano worker from Chicago’s Pilsen barrio pointed out. “We are demanding more jobs for Chicanos and we’ve already planned a big demonstration for March 11.”

JOIN organizers are already laying plans to continue the fight for jobs at International Women’s Day celebrations March 8 and at the veterans’ tent-in in Washington in June.

In addition to building organization, the March on Washington was significant for other reasons.


First of all, both the JOIN Coalition and the march itself were built as a broad united front. Ever since it was initiated by the National Fight Back Organization, the JOIN campaign placed great emphasis on bringing together people from a wide spectrum of political beliefs united around the common demand for jobs. The success of this effort was shown by the fact that, by Feb. 18, more than 200 organizations and individuals had endorsed and participated in building the march.

Another important aspect of the march was its multinational character. The coalition stressed the unity of the workers’ movement with the struggles of the oppressed nationalities as the heart of their united front.

In fact, it was the masses of workers and minorities, led by JOIN activists, who built the march right in their communities, unemployment offices, and factories. The great strength and unity of the demonstration was a direct result of relying on the people to fight for their own interests, rather than placing false hopes in politicians or “big names.”

Thirdly, many people marched with the perspective that the enemy is not just one city council, one boss or landlord, but rather the whole capitalist system as well as the capitalists’ agents right in the workers’ movement. This class consciousness was an important and widespread feature of the jobs march.

Finally, the demonstration was significant because of the role played by communists within it. Communists, including the CPML, fought hard to build the coalition as broadly as possible, to aim the struggle at the system, to mobilize the masses as the main force in the demonstration, and to build multinational unity.

Moreover, because of the communists’ independent role, widespread revolutionary education was conducted among the people about the need to build the fight for jobs as a part of the fight for revolution. Growing numbers’ of people began to understand that, in order to get rid of unemployment and all oppression forever, the capitalist system must be smashed and replaced by a socialist society run by the working people.

The Jobs March was, in fact, the first sizeable mass action which the CPML undertook to build since its founding last June. Because of its work in the campaign, the hundreds who came to Washington–many of whom had never before participated in anything like this demonstration-received important training in the class struggle.

The Feb. 18 demonstration, although it was only a first step in building a powerful fightback movement, was an important step. It was the first nationwide demonstration for jobs or income in many years in which the banner of socialism was raised. As such it holds great potential for becoming a force for winning concessions from the ruling class today and for toppling it altogether tomorrow.