N.Y. socialists ballot
drive goes over top
Workers need our own political party
Socialist Workers candidates in New York talk with participants at Pathfinder booth during Harlem Book Fair July 17. Behind table from right, Willie Cotton, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate, and Róger Calero, candidate for U.S. Congress in 15th District.
BY ANGEL LARISCY
AND BRIAN WILLIAMS
NEW YORKSocialist campaigners here celebrated completion of a 10-day effort July 18 to collect 7,000 signatures to place Róger Calero on the November ballot for U.S. Congress in the 15th District. The Socialist Workers Party is also running Dan Fein for governor and Willie Cotton and Sarah Ruth Robinett for two open U.S. Senate seats.
Some 50 people came to a campaign forum the evening of July 17 where Calero and Robinett spoke. This included two people who had met campaigners on the streets that day or in the week before, as well as a coworker of Fein and two others attending their first socialist event. A successful meeting to launch the ballot effort was also held the first weekend.
In addition to collecting more than 7,200 signatures, campaign supporters over the 10 days introduced people to the new book Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by Jack Barnes, published by Pathfinder Press, and to the Militant newspaper. Thirty-one copies of the book and 38 subscriptions to the Militant were sold during the petitioning effort. This included 11 copies of the books and 10 subscriptions sold on Saturday, July 17, at the Harlem Book Fair. SWP candidates and supporters campaigned at the fair, and throughout Upper Manhattan, collecting 1,525 signatures that day.
A booth featuring Pathfinders titles was one of some 125 set up by bookstores, distributors, authors, or publishers at the fair. Many visitors also attended panel discussions at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and other locations. A panel entitled Is Racial Justice Passé? Barack Obama, American Society, and Human Rights in the 21st Century featured five professors and authors of recent books, as well as Steve Clark, coeditor of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power.
Good response in Harlem
Petitioners for Calero reached out to working people with a fighting perspective to defend the interests of the working class, to break politically from the imperialist Democratic and Republican parties, and to build a revolutionary movement to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist exploiters.
Campaign supporters received a good response in the district, which includes the Upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood. In the final week of the drive, campaigners gathered signatures both before and after workcollecting close to 900 by the weekend. A young worker who met socialists at an immigrant rights rally May 1 and a woman electrician who learned about the campaign from a coworker joined the petitioning effort.
Many working people, when approached in the final week by SWP candidates and supporters, said, Ive already signed. Thousands of copies of the partys campaign platform in English and Spanish were distributed.
Petitioner Harry DAgostino said he found real interest among workers in the Socialist Workers campaign. The idea that working people need to take political power often got people to stop, he said. DAgostino, who petitioned seven of the 10 days, said he was able to sell a number of copies of the Militant by pointing to the struggles it covers in the United States and around the world, and explaining how workers can learn from each others fights.
Socialist candidates and campaigners staffing the booth at the Harlem Book Fair had nonstop conversations about U.S. and world politics. The booth prominently featured Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, sparking discussion on lessons to be learned from Malcolm X and the role of workers and farmers who are Black throughout a century and a half of class struggle going back to the Civil War and Radical Reconstruction. More than $500 of Pathfinder books and pamphlets were sold.
Is Racial Justice Passé?
Some 125 people attended the session on Is Racial Justice Passé? Reverend Herbert Daughtry, national presiding minister of the House of the Lord churches, was the moderator. Daughtry read passages from his book In My Lifetime: Towards the Presidency of Barack Obama, pointing to the election of Obama as a great achievement that will reap benefits for generations.
Barack Obama and the Democratic Party administration he represents do not in any way represent the interests of the big majority of working people who are Black and other working people, said Clark in his presentation. The deepening global economic and social crisis today shows the consequences of the fact that we live under the dictatorship of capital, he said. We need to break politically from the Democratic and Republican parties and organize our own party independent of those who exploit and oppress us.
After the presentations panelists were available to autograph copies of their books. One participant who asked Clark to sign a copy of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power was from Columbus, Ohio. She has watched Harlem book fairs on C-SPAN, she said, but decided this year to attend.
In addition to the panel on Is Racial Justice Passé? there were panels on American Stories: Creating Life against Resistance and Can We Tell the Truth about the Black Past? Each was televised live on C-SPANs Book TV, and videos are available online at C-SPANs Web site.
Some visitors to the Pathfinder booth said they heard about Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power at the panel discussion and wanted to know more.
A woman who is a teacher in upstate New York bought the book and, after asking about its author Jack Barnes, also became interested in another title by him, The Working Class and the Transformation of Learning: The Fraud of Education Reform under Capitalism. Ive been a teacher for some 20 years, she said. But what they organize us to do in the classroom isnt education, aimed at encouraging students to think for themselves. Its just training.
Socialist campaign meeting
At the campaign dinner and forum that evening, Ruth Robinett explained the importance of the conviction of Johannes Mehserle, a Bay Area transit cop, for killing Oscar Grant, a young Black man, last year, as well as the indictments of four New Orleans cops for killings in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The police are used to protect the ruling class and private property, Robinett said. A conviction of a cop is rare and important.
Róger Calero told the audience, The White House and Democrats in Congress, including my opponent Charles Rangel, are telling us the so-called economic stimulus is working and that the economy is going in the right direction.
They tell us all we need to do is be patient, Calero said. But the landlords are not being patient when they throw people out of their apartments. Con Ed is not patient when the electricity is cut off. The doctors are not patient when the health insurance is canceled.
The economic crisis is the result of the capitalist system of exploitation and will continue until we get rid of the dictatorship of capital once and for all, continued Calero. Thats why workers must break from the parties of finance capital, the Democrats and Republicans, and form an independent party of labor, based on a fighting trade union movement in the United States.
Back out campaigning
Calero, along with other Socialist Workers Party candidates and campaign supporters will be back out campaigning over the July 24-25 weekend and the months between now and the November elections. They will be distributing the campaign platform and selling copies of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power and other books and pamphlets that patiently explain a revolutionary working-class alternative to the course of the capitalist candidates and parties.
On Saturday evening, July 24, campaign supporters will also be participating with others in An Evening in Solidarity with Cuba to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the July 26, 1953, assault on the Moncada army garrison in Santiago de Cuba. The attack, led by Fidel Castro and other Cuban rebels, launched the revolutionary war that toppled the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in 1959.
A focus of the July 24 meeting will be the campaign to free the Cuban Five. Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González have been in prison since their arrest on Sept. 12, 1998. They had been gathering information on counterrevolutionary Cuban American groups that operate from South Florida with Washingtons complicity and have a history of violent attacks on Cuba.
The five were framed and convicted in 2001 on charges that included failing to register as agents of a foreign government and conspiracy to commit espionage. They were given sentences ranging from 15 years to life. Hernández, who was also falsely accused of conspiracy to commit murder, was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years.
Socialist candidates and their supporters are explaining the frame-up to working people everywhere they speak and actively campaigning with others to free the Cuban Five.
SWP candidates in Iowa enter home stretch in petition drive
Workers need a labor party, says D.C. socialist
How Cuban Revolution transformed workers lives
Take the high ground-Free Cuban 5!