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I really appreciate being honored
along with Ruth Lofgren, Nickie Valdez, T.C. Calvert, and María Antonietta
Berriozábal; but I'm not sure I deserve the honor the same way the other
four honorees do. Wednesday's Express News (October 24, 2007) had an article
noting the accomplishments of the honorees. But when it came to me, the article
did not mention any accomplishments. It said: "The longtime activist is
best known for Stanford vs. Texas..." This was an important case argued
by Maury Maverick, Jr., American Civil Liberties Union attorney, before the
U.S. Supreme Court. His arguments won a unanimous reaffirmation of the liberties
guaranteed by the 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendments. I had little to do with the
case except to discuss with Maury what Communists believe. The case came after
a raid on my house and the seizure of thousands of books and papers. I was away
at work. The real hero was my wife, who was at home at the time.
Actually, I did have a little bit
more to do with the case. John J. McAvoy -a conservative, Wall Street Republican,
according to Maury -was also an ACLU attorney on the case. After reading some
of the changes made in the brief, I insisted on filing a supplemental statement
of my own with the Court. Maury said the ACLU was afraid the case might be thrown
out if I insisted on filing a separate statement. I was very careful with what
I said, and the case was not thrown out.
I appreciate what Laura Codina and the Coordinadoras of Fuerza Unida, Petra Mata and Viola Cásares, said, but in all honesty I have to say that whatever I've been able to accomplish has been built on the legacy of Communists here in San Antonio, Texas before me. In October of last year there was a symposium held at the Tamiment Library of New York University on "James and Esther Jackson, the American Left and the Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement." James Jackson was a big influence in my life. At the symposium Percy Sutton, former Manhattan borough president, spoke of his long association with and appreciation of the Jacksons. This began in San Antonio where Sutton grew up in a family of twelve, half of whom became Communists.The six Suttons; Emma Tenayuca and John Inman, both of whom were chairs of the Communist Party of Texas; Hattie Mae Inman, who raised a family and was an inspiration to others while bedridden with five types of cancer; Manuela Soliz Sager and her husband James Sager; Luisa Moreno, and many more -- these are people to whom I'm indebted. I think this honor belongs to them also. And to my wife, Jo, whose support enabled me to be involved in struggles for peace and justice.
I consider the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center one of the most important promoters of art, culture, peace and social justice in our country. The vision statement of the Esperanza starts off with the words: "The people of Esperanza dream of a world where everyone has civil rights and economic justice, where the environment is cared for, where cultures are honored and communities are safe." Many of you may not agree with me, but if you take the words literally, I think the world these people of Hope -- we people of Hope -- are dreaming of is Communism. It is not a world that can be achieved under today's capitalism.
When Dr. William Edward Burghardt
Du Bois joined the Communist Party in October, 1961, he stated: "Capitalism
cannot reform itself; it is doomed to self-destruction. No universal selfishness
can bring social good for all."
Earlier this month, Hugo Chávez,
president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, echoed this same thought
on one of his weekly broadcasts of the program Aló presidente. In the
course of a telephone exchange with Fidel Castro during the program, Chávez
said: "Only socialism can save humanity. The only options we have left
are socialism or barbarism."
The people's forces are gaining
strength, and reasons for hope abound. Yet here in the USA we have Jena in Louisiana;
racial profiling, an increase in police brutality and even killings by police
here in San Antonio; continued attacks on Roe v. Wade; continued neglect of
the needs of the victims of Katrina; attacks on the rights of lesbians, gays,
bisexual and transgendered people; increasing raids on immigrants and the breakup
of families; degradation of the environment; children behind bars at the Hutto
Prison (renamed the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility) in Taylor, Texas;
and attacks on Palestinians, Arabs, and others. And on a world scale, continued
waste of billions of dollars monthly on wars; increased inequality between rich
and poor nations; dangers of nuclear warfare; and inaction in the face of global
What stands in the way of building
the unity of working people and of the many groups oppressed by modern capitalism
and imperialism - the unity that's needed to put an end to this madness? Racism
and Xenophobia (including anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab
and anti-Palestinian movements and sentiments). Homophobia, too. Dogmatic religion:
(Here I'm speaking of the religion of the far Right, not the religion that calls
on people to unite in the struggle for peace and social justice.) Anti-Semitism,
still on the scene and growing in our country, in spite of all the horrors it's
brought to humanity. And, failure to see the role of the individual in history,
which results in a lack of involvement. All stand in the way of unity.
How do we fight these roadblocks
to progress? We need to use every means at our disposal. I hand out the People's
Weekly World, with its weekly appeals for solidarity in the building of a better
world, a world of peace and brotherhood. You can pick up a copy on the table
downstairs in the Esperanza lobby on your way out. Others use calaveras (like
those in the November, 2007 issue of La Voz de Esperanza) or music, dance, art,
poetry, telling stories, writing novels, making movies. All forms of sembrando
conciencia, spreading awareness and understanding -- concientización,
to use an old term -- are important.
Hugo Chávez said: "Hagamos
el socialismo, con amor y con pasión, y estaremos salvando a la humanidad
del imperialismo, del capitalismo, de la destrucción de la especie humana.
["Let's build socialism, with love and passion, and by doing so we will
be saving humanity from imperialism, capitalism, and the destruction of the
When he applied for admission to
membership in the Communist Party, Dr. Du Bois said: "I have been long
and slow in coming to this conclusion, but at last my mind in settled."
If you are not yet ready to join the Communist Party, take your time. Study
The Communist Manifesto. It's old but still good. And there are still
many other things you can do to build a better world.
And there is the Esperanza Center. Start by reading the Esperanza's remarkable Vision and Mission Statement on their website at www.esperanzacenter.org and get involved in building a better world for all.
This article was published in La Voz de Esperanza, October 2007/January 2008
issue, by the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, Texas.
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