By Sara Ladino
During the largest protest in U.S. history, the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, civil rights icon Angela Davis once again inspired hundreds of thousands on the main stage in Washington D.C., a major site of struggle against the concentrated power of transnational corporations.
She reminded those in attendance that we working people, “the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans-people, men and youth who are here at the Women’s March, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, hetero-patriarchy from rising again.”
And she knew well of what she spoke. In her youth, when Ronald Reagan was governor of California, he had targeted her for death because already in her younger years she represented everything the ruling class had to eliminate. Davis was a young woman, an African American, a brilliant college professor and writer, and a leader of the Communist Party USA. She, more than most, represented all of the things the ruling class of the day feared most. Her exoneration on the trumped up charges against her represented a victory for all of the people’s movements that fought for her freedom.
This Saturday, March 4th, Angela Davis is making her way to the city of Wall Street for the 2017 We’re Not Going Back Unity Rally. Organized by the New York District of the Communist Party USA and the People Before Profits Education Fund, the event will draw leaders in the fight for the 99 percent to the Henry Winston Unity Hall to develop a higher level of united mass struggle against racism, sexism, religious intolerance, and all forms of bigotry.
Davis has long been a leading figure in the struggle for equality, democracy, and peace. For decades, she has been drawing the connections between racism, the oppression of women, the United States’ history of slavery, and a competitive economic system that encourages capitalists to exploit all working people.
The same system relies on racist and segregationist policies in employment, housing, education, healthcare, and other areas of public life to divide working people and to reap extra profits through the super exploitation of Black and Brown workers and immigrants, while simultaneously attacking their political power at the ballot box through voter suppression tactics.
As a young woman, Angela was a leader in the Communist Party USA, which, as an organization, played a leading role in fighting lynchings and segregation in the Jim Crow South. During the 1960’s she joined with other groups, among them the Black Panther Party, whenever and wherever they waged a battle against police brutality. In the 1960’s she helped organize ambulance services and health clinics in African-American communities, and was instrumental in establishing the free breakfast and lunch programs for children that now operate in U.S. public schools.
She ran for Vice-President of the United States twice on the Communist Party ticket with Gus Hall, winning 44,933 votes in 1980.
The National United Committee to Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners, a mass successful effort that received major support from the CPUSA won her release from jail after she was unjustly detained for her political activity. The struggle against a racist and repressive criminal justice system in the United States continues to be a major focus for Davis today.
Speaking at the Women’s March, Davis saluted Native Americans for their lead as the “first peoples who despite massive genocidal violence have never relinquished the struggle for land, water, culture, their people,.”
She also saluted “the freedom struggles of Black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history” which is “anchored in slavery and colonialism.” Our history is one of “immigration and enslavement,” she said, and she reiterated that “no human being is illegal.”
Davis showed her solidarity with the fight “to save the planet, to stop climate change, to guarantee the accessibility of water from the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, to Flint, Michigan, to the West Bank and Gaza.”
She hailed the “inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation.
“Yes, we salute the fight for 15,” she said. “We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance. Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers. Resistance to the health care privatizers. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants. Resistance to attacks on disabled people. Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison industrial complex. Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color.”
In her speeches Davis reflects her understanding of the need for unity among all working and oppressed people fighting together for their collective interests. She understands the oil and military corporations, the real estate and pharmaceutical corporations, and other extremely reactionary sections of the transnational corporations that Donald Trump and the GOP represents cannot be defeated one issue at a time with a divided progressive movement. It requires united action around a broad platform and concrete strategy.
“The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance,” Davis vowed. “Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change,” she has famously said. “I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Tens of millions are being activated to fight for change because they are deeply concerned about the danger represented by the unacceptable policies of Donald Trump. They are concerned about the fact that the most reactionary sections of transnational capital now control all three branches of the Federal Government. Those concerns are well founded and have created a new multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-generational working class movement to defeat the Trump agenda. The Women’s March was the largest in U.S. history, and the Muslim ban was met with protest resulting in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals striking it down. Every day the people are rising up against Trump and the amplified fascist danger.
It will be a long fight, but with a united movement, Trump can be defeated. His recent drop in the national polls and signs of disillusionment among some of his voters are very important. The message is that the rising anti-Trump upsurge can win this fight.
Please use the upcoming days to invite your network of family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to join Professor Angela Y. Davis and leading fighters for the people’s agenda at the New York unity event on Saturday, March 4 at the Henry Winston Hall, 235 W. 23rd street, in New York..
RSVP now to join the multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-generational working class as we organize and mobilize to defeat this growing fascist danger.
The event will also be livestreamed in English at go.cpusa.org.
Livestreamed en español: esp.cpusa.org.