Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Brooke Heagerty

On Being ’History’s Ruby’: How and Why We Must Build an Organization of Revolutionaries

First Published: The People’s Tribune (Online Edition), Vol. 23, No. 2, January 22, 1996.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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[Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt of remarks delivered at the League of Revolutionaries for a New America’s Area Office Conference held in November, 1995 in Chicago. The conference marked a turning point for the LRNA. More than 30 representatives of LRNA Area Offices from across the country convened to share experiences of building the League in their cities, to discuss the mood of the American people and the movement and to make plans and commitments for further growth.]

It is customary after a such a convening to sum up our discussion and our agreements. Our country is becoming full of discontented, restless, disoriented people. They are being driven by historical forces beyond their control and beyond, as yet, their awareness. The world they have known is turned upside down and they are being morally and spiritually challenged by the times.

They are searching for answers. Right now, they are only hearing from the ruling class, which has convinced an alarming number to accept the steady but accelerating implementation of a police state.

At the same time, technology offers the vision of a future which we can hardly imagine.

The arising social struggle does not lack organizers, or militancy, or the courage of conviction. Only one thing is lacking: an understanding of the reality of the situation, who is friend and who is foe, and what must be done if humanity is to survive.

The role we must play is that of teacher to the movement, but a certain kind of teacher: one who has the task of “introducing new ideas.” We must appeal to the morality and sense of fair play of the American people as the means to educate and prepare them for the struggles that lie ahead.

Everything about our organization–its structure, its methodology, its organizational principles, its primary weapons (the People’s Tribune and Tribuno del Pueblo)–reflect this purpose of “introducing new ideas.”

What were the key points of our convening?

Methodology: We took the first steps in building a working relationship between the National Office and the Area Offices, a relationship defined by our respective divisions of labor and our common approach of objective assessment, planning, evaluation and reporting.

Structure: We agreed at the chapter system will connect us to the broadening movement and that it must be open, flexible and organized for political education. The Area Offices must oversee the building and expansion of the chapter system. They must provide assessments, evaluations and reports to the National Office and through it, to the rest of the organization. The National Office must work with the areas to get reports and plans, synthesize this information, and send it back out as political analysis and practical direction so that the entire organization is working as a coordinated whole.

Integrated approach: The press, education, fundraising and building the League as a political organization are all essential parts of the same whole and must proceed together.

Introducing new ideas: This cannot be done without political education. Education happens in many different ways, but the content of that education must always be the same. Our papers are our main weapons. We must get them out, get them paid for and must guarantee that they are the expression of the movement and not just its reflection.

Decentralize the organization: All of these elements will allow us to create self-sustaining local organizations which, directed by our common Program and our common purpose, can expand and influence the social struggles as they develop and ultimately break out in a mass way.

Sense of mission: At our Leadership School we learned of a young girl named Ruby Bridges. In 1960, this 6-year-old girl, under federal protection and in the face of continual harassment and danger, integrated an elementary school in New Orleans. This is what she had to say when she was 10, about what she did:

“I knew I was just Ruby, just Ruby trying to go to school. ...

“But I guess I also knew I was the Ruby who had to do it, go into that school and stay there, no matter what those people said, standing outside.

“And besides, the minister reminded me that God chooses us to do his will, and so I had to be His Ruby, if that’s what He wanted.

“And then that white lady wrote and told me she was going to stop shouting at me, because she’d decided I wasn’t bad, even if integration was bad; then my momma said I’d become ’her Ruby,’ that lady’s, just like she said in her letter, and I was glad.

“And I was glad I got all the nice letters from people who said I was standing up for them, and I was walking for them, and they were thinking of me, and they were with me, and I was their Ruby, too, they said.” (Chicago Tribune, Sept. 22, 1995)

Now, some of us may see ourselves as God’s Ruby. But I say we should all think of ourselves as history’s Ruby: an instrument of something greater than ourselves, strengthened by our consciousness of this calling.

It is with this sense of mission that we must return to build our chapters and our areas, to expand our influence and our treasury so that we can put an end to the waste and destruction, and live finally in a world where, in the words of the great revolutionary song, ̶we shall be all.”