On June 16th, something amazing happened. Members of the Texas Young Communist League executed their first coordinated statewide action. They even had a visitor from Oklahoma with them. Representatives of six Texas cities, Hurst, Bedford, Fort Worth, Lufkin, Nacogdoches, and Austin, and one Oklahoma city, Ardmore, gathered in three locations across Texas, Lufkin, Austin, and Fort Worth, to act in unison for a great cause.
The cause for which they were gathering was threefold. First, the Texas Young Communist league, in unison with YCL members from across the country, Oakland, CA, Orlando, FL, and New Haven, CT, sought to honor and celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings.(1)
Second, the YCLers sought to bring to the forefront of the discussion a very disturbing national issue, unemployment. Very simply put, despite recent valiant efforts to control the problem, it is very bad. The national unemployment rate is 8.2%. Men over twenty are unemployed at a rate of 7.8%, with women in the same group at 7.4%. Unemployment among veterans is even slightly worse at 8.3%, with Gulf War Era vets suffering even more deeply at 12.6%. The worst hit group, however, is recent college graduates, whose unemployment rate presently sits at an astronomic 53%!(2)
Third, the YCLers sought to highlight President Barack Obama’s Summer Youth Jobs Initiative, a bold effort to combat high youth unemployment rates in the United States. As they hoped to make well known, this was one of the portions of the Obama Jobs Bill that was able to get through all the recent political haggles. It is a fantastic program that provides opportunities all over the country for young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty four. There are even opportunities in the areas where many YCLers currently live.(3)
To get this information out the YCLers across the country did some pretty cool stuff. The New Haven YCL in Connecticut held a public demonstration and marched through the city, and they were not alone. They had help from other organizations from around their city, and they even made an impression on the local press.(4) In Oakland, YCL members participated in a Juneteenth Festival with music, dancing, and face painting.(5) In Orlando, YCL members passed out fliers and talked to people.
In Texas, YCL members had an interesting experience, in that, it was their first effort to participate in such a widely coordinated effort. The Austin group did not have as many people as they wanted, the Lufkin group had to battle poor weather conditions, and the Fort Worth group got a late start.
Despite all this, they made a great effort to participate in the national event and get the word out about unemployment and youth oriented job opportunities. In Austin, members went to a Juneteenth Celebration and talked to people, and then went out to the downtown bar scene and passed out fliers. In Lufkin, despite the weather, members went downtown and passed out fliers to the patrons of the area’s most popular coffee shop, the Standpipe. In Fort Worth, members went through over one-thousand-one-hundred fliers, as they leafleted businesses and talked to people in the Business, Cultural, and Historic Stockyards Districts. (6) They even had a chance to canvas the Northern Tarrant County Campaign Office of Democratic Congressional Candidate Domingo Garcia, who is running for, and has a very good chance to win, the new US Congressional District, TX-33.(7)
This was a great event that brought a great experience to everyone involved. The fact that so many youth are up and ready to get involved in helping this country get back in shape is amazing. It is even more amazing that they are willing to work together on such a mass scale to achieve a common goal. It shows a level of social awareness that many in the older generations may have thought was missing among today’s youth. This proves that young people are actually very aware of what is going on and are willing and ready to get involved in the long struggle for positive and effective change.
1 http://www.juneteenth.com/, Accessed June 18, 2012, 8:53 PM, CST.
2 http://www.bls.gov/, Accessed June 18, 2012 8:58 PM, CST
3 http://www.dol.gov/summerjobs/youth.htm, Accessed on June 18, 2012, 9:13 PM, CST
4http://nhregister.com/articles/2012/06/17/news/new_haven/doc4fdd4b9853ec0976203089.txt?viewmode=fullstory, Accessed on June 18, 2012, 9:16 PM, CST.
5http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4154799749818&set=a.1598699368906.77154.1278667239&type=1&theater¬if_t=close_friend_activity#!/media/set/?set=oa.238316912951980&type=1, Accessed on June 18, 2012, 9:24 PM, CST.
6 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4160045037795.2176952.1184100735&type=3, Accessed on June 18, 2012, 9:41 PM, CST.
7 http://domingoforcongress.com/, Accessed on June 18, 2012, 9:45 PM, CST.