Over the last few weeks, tens of thousands have taken to the streets across the U.S. to demand the arrest of the “neighborhood watchman” who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.
Working people need to continue to mobilize and pressure the government to not allow this modern-day lynching to be swept under the rug. This fight is part and parcel of other workers’ struggles today against the propertied rulers’ assault on our wages, working conditions, rights and dignity.
The Sanford cops hoped to bury the vigilante killing. But, like in the fight to expose the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955, the determination of Martin’s parents prevented them from doing so, and inspired a spreading wave of demonstrations.
A smear campaign, against both Martin’s character and against the African-American nationality as a whole, has reared its head in response to the popular protests. The goal, as Malcolm X said, is to make the victim look like the criminal and the criminal look like the victim.
National oppression is not a thing of the past. The racist killing of Martin and James Anderson provide examples of one side of this.
Murderous terror of vigilante gangs were key to the overthrow of Radical Reconstruction in the late 1870s. The bloody defeat of the popular, progressive Radical Reconstruction regimes was the worst defeat for the working class in U.S. history. After that, the officially extra-legal, but in fact police-backed violence, was a prerequisite for the imposition and maintenance of Jim Crow segregation. Decades of reactionary violence targeted and sought to cow African-Americans. This scourge of the working class was also directed against Catholics, Jews, immigrants and was used especially to break the spirit of class-conscious fighting workers and farmers, particularly if they sought to join in struggle across the color line.
The popular response today is a registration of the permanent strengthening of the entire working class won as a result of the fight for Black rights in the 1950s and ’60s, as well as the vanguard role of the struggles for African-American liberation as part of the broader working class struggle today.
The mass movement for Black rights smashed Jim Crow and pushed back racist violence. But it was not strong enough to lay the basis to eliminate national oppression. That task remains and will be central to the revolutionary struggle for workers power.
In fact, as working people are forced to bear the brunt of the deepening economic and social crisis of capitalism, the myriad forms of oppression of the African-American nationality are being reinforced. For example, workers who are Black are increasingly the last hired and first fired. Further evidence of this unresolved national question can be seen in the disproportionate representation of African-Americans among the massive numbers of workers behind bars and the systematic racist targeting by cops from “stop-and-frisk” operations to outright murder.
The fight against the lynching of Trayvon Martin is among those battles today that strengthen the unity, self-confidence, and fighting capacity of the working class. Join, build, call actions to demand the arrest and prosecution of his killer!
Protests demand arrest Trayvon Martin’s killer!
6 weeks after lynching, vigilante still free
Man sentenced to life for lynching Black auto worker in Mississippi
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home