Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

May Day events revive revolutionary holiday

First Published: The Call, Vol. 8, No. 19, May 14, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Chicago – The city that gave birth to May Day nearly 100 years ago was the scene of a Midwest regional celebration May 6. Its theme was need to revive the workers’ movement in this country along with May Day, the international workers’ holiday. This program, as well as celebrations in several other cities was jointly sponsored by three U.S. communist organizations: the CPML, the League of Revolutionary Struggle and the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters. This marked a significant step forward in the communist unity efforts in the U.S.

The Chicago event brought together over 300 people from this city, and from Milwaukee, Detroit, Cincinnati and the steel center of Indiana.


First the audience was treated to a talk by Nellie Hendrix, veteran of the Women’s Emergency Brigade that helped win the Flint Sit-down Strike in 1937. She told how the militancy of women who refused to stay put in the strike kitchens helped bring General Motors to its knees.

Hendrix faced the audience that had given her a standing ovation and confided: “For a long time I had the feeling that we were being let down by other people in the shops. But today, as I look over the crowd, I’m proud to see so many young people from the shops interested in reviving the union. Because it does need revival and it needs it bad.”

Also speaking was Bennie Lenard from the Anti-Bakke Decision Coalition, Talking about the need to oppose the Bakke, Weber, and Sears cases. Lenard stressed that whites as well as minorities benefit from affirmative action programs.

“Supposedly [according to the Weber suit] a Black man took a job from a white man. I know that’s a lie.” Lenard explained that the job training program Weber and a number of other whites were in owed its existence to affirmative action.

The day’s keynote speaker was David Sibeko, member of the Presidential Council of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. In an emotional moment, Sibeko was presented with a recording of the song “Biko Companero” composed by La Banda de Pueblo, a musical group of Indiana steelworkers. The song is a tribute to Stephen Biko, leader of the Black Consciousness Movement who was murdered by South African police.

The audience cheered as Sibeko promised the record would be broadcast to the Azanian people over PAC radio stations. Sibeko was also presented with a check for $600 raised for the PAC at the May Day program.


Announcing the formation of a new nationwide Azania Support Committee here, Sibeko specifically spoke to auto workers whose bosses are the major investors in South Africa:

“If the Detroit worker doesn’t stand up for his working class brothers in Azania, ” said Sibeko,“so long is he allowing himself to be thrown into the streets because work has been shoved off to Port Elizabeth.” There, workers make 1/10 to 1/15 the wages of workers in Detroit. With his next comment, Sibeko brought the entire crowd to its feet:

“I want our people one day to wake up and say they heard that the whole of Detroit is at a stand-still because the American workers have stood up and said: Ford, Chrysler, GM – get out of Azania!”

The enthusiastic response to Sibeko was typical of the spirit was also reflected in the cultural entertainment from Detroit – a highly creative “Satire on America” by the Detroit Street Players, and a stirring set of dances.

The final speaker was a representative of the league of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L). He called the joint efforts of Marxist-Leninists in building this program a “positive step forward” toward the goal of the working class struggle: “a fundamental change, a revolution to overthrow the ruling class and establish socialism.”

May Day events included:

New York – More than 350 people filled the Marc Ballroom May 5 to hear David Sibeko and Donnie Walters of the Gulf coast Pulpwood Association in Mississippi. Walters spoke of the harsh conditions confronted by the lumber workers there – low wages, frequent injuries and Klan terror – and of the militant solidarity of Blacks and whites.

“If the man there is giving the Black guys a dirtier deal than the white guys, that’s when the GPA goes in and we just shut the man down.” declared Walters, who is white.

Among other speakers were a representative from the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters, Kenny Leiner from the postal workers, whose 1978 wildcat was a blow against government attempts to freeze wages.

Boston– A broad range of forces held a fair here, attended by nearly 200 people. Booths were set up by the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, the China People’s Friendship Assoc., ABDC and tenants in Chinatown, among others.

Featured speakers included Donnie Walters, fresh from the N.Y. event, as well as Arthur Doty of the Teamsters for a Democratic Union. Doty spoke about his group’s organizing efforts against the contract that ended their recent strike. Although it broke the wage guidelines, the contract has met a lot of resistance because it doesn’t allow workers to catch up with inflation.

Also speaking was Margie Winbourne of the CPML. She reminded the audience that the danger of war is growing on this May Day. Nine wars after students were killed at Kent State and Jackson State for opposing U.S. bombing in Cambodia, that country has seen a new invasion by Soviet-backed Vietnamese troops.

Winbourne urged the group to resist the war plans of the USSR and its puppets as well as the war preparations of the U.S. imperialists, as reflected in new calls for a military draft.

Other May Day events both last weekend and the weekend before were held in Honolulu, Atlanta, Burlington, Baltimore, Portland, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities.