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News :: Human Rights : Organizing
Boston Rallies for Rosa Parks Human Rights Day
02 Dec 2006
A coalition of groups working for social and economic justice came together in Roxbury yesterday to celebrate Rosa Parks Human Rights Day. Although the event failed to attract the many hundreds of participants present at last year’s rally and march, the resilient spirit of those present did not fail to garner support from bystanders in our city’s streets.

The first day of December marked the 51st anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks after refusing to give her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, which amounted to a direct defiance to segregation laws in the south and created a national movement to counter such racist policies.
The Boston Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee has appealed to the mayor of Boston to honor December 1st as Rosa Parks Human Rights Day and declare it a legal holiday. Their request so far has attracted thirty endorsing organizations and representatives including Boston City Councilors Chuck Turner, Charles Yancey, Felix Arroyo, and Sam Yoon; State Senator Diane Wilkerson, the Greater Love Tabernacle Church, the Stop the Wars Coalition, Voices of Liberation, Africana Studies Department at University of Massachusetts, the New England Human Rights Organization for Haiti, and the Men of Color Against AIDS (MOCAA), among others.

As marchers led the way through Roxbury, the South End, and into downtown Boston chanting “No to war, no to racism, no to violence,” onlookers smiled, nodded, raised their fists, honked their cars, and some even joined them. “I think that is good that our people can come together for this day. If we can keep keep working like this, we can become a better community,” said Rakaeima Norris, an eight grader from Smith Leadership School.

“It shows you how you can have a coalition of people to work for something,” said Agustin de la Gente and member of Voices of Liberation, a youth group working against repression. “We embrace many people’s struggles in solidarity to embody justice.”

In fact, ideologies of the coalition were very mixed, with representatives from socialist, communist, liberal, and progressive backgrounds whose focus was to celebrate the life of a woman leader who sparked the life of the civil rights movement.

“Rosa Parks broke the barrier of racial segregation,” said Bernard Brown, a Vietnam war veteran from Roxbury. “I remember reading about it when it happened and thought it was fantastic. A negro woman standing up for herself like that.”

“Rosa Parks represents justice and everything that is right,” said Kenneth Walker, an eleventh grader from Social Justice Academy and added that the struggle continues. “I march today for my rights to walk down the street without worrying about cops harassing me.” He recently was stopped by two Boston Police officers on his way home for wearing a black hoodie. He was questioned for 20 minutes and lectured for “being out so late” although it was only 6:00 p.m. “I guess it was already dark out,” he said, “But it made me so angry.”

Students as well as adults, including Kenneth, were wearing yellow hoodies at the Rosa Parks march with her face on it and a quote that read, “Memories of our lives, of our work, and our deed will continue in others.”

“I think all of us fundamentally want to change society: organize against the war in Iraq, against racism and sexism, campaign for living wages for all and amnesty for undocumented workers” said Bryan Koulouris from the Socialist Alternative, “We work together on the same issues but have different approaches.”

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What really happened
03 Dec 2006
Modified: 07:16:04 AM
Sofia has a future as a writer of bland, content-free corporate press releases.

What happened was basically the same as last year. The stalinist Workers World Party traded on Rosa Parks' good name to give a platform to the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party, thereby doing their part to prolong the life of the racist capitalist system. The difference was that even fewer people were fooled by WWP's popular front charade the second time around. The main demand that the speakers seemed to put forward, that is when their speeches had any political content whatsoever, was to ask the war criminals in government to spend less on war and more on social programs. Less than a week after the racist police murder of Sean Bell, the priest who opened the rally called on the crowd to join him in praying for and thanking the police (!!!), and said that many things had improved in the last year (!!!!) No wonder most of the people who bothered to show up were bussed in as a field trip from their schools!

We need to build a revolutionary workers' party that fights for black liberation, and against popular front formations like the Rosa Parks club that act to put a brake on the class struggle and prop up racist bourgeois rule.
See also:
Fred Bergen and the WCE are insane sectarians.
03 Dec 2006
First of all, the priest is not from the Catholic Church proper -- he's from the Catholic Church of the Americas. Do we just simply exclude important religious figures that unite communities of color from our struggles and become a self-proclaimed vanguard, over and above the people we're trying to organize or do we show our strength and militancy and solidarity through practice. It's obvious that the Bishop is in a higher standing with the people than any one of you stupid Trots and if I re-call Lenin correctly, it's perfectly acceptable to work with others ouside of your political arena for similar goals. Fred, why don't you organize your own radical event rather than dissing the important work of others? Your left sectarianism is part of the reason the United States has such a weak progressive movement.

Does it matter that people were bussed in from schools? Isn't that a good thing that teachers are actually promoting values of equality and justice to their pupils? It's a hell of a lot better than praising the virtues of Colombus or the founding fathers.

You are lacking in sincere Marxist thought and exhibit a trend towards mechnical marxism. You, my dear sectarian, are racist. You Trots are all the same, mistaking our "demands" for "asking." We are not asking the government for more social programs, if you even cared to listen, quite a few of the youth from Voice of Liberation openly called for Revolution. These are 'Demands.' The fact that our demands are not met doesn't mean that we're pleading with the ruling class, it means that we aren't sufficiently strong enough across the country to have a mass movement that forces our will.

Again, I beg you, if you represent the shining path to the future, and I know that must get you because of the gasp -- "evil Stalinist Sendero Luminoso" -- please, do something and stop trouncing others's attempts to build a mass movement. Workers World Party, nor any progressive affiliation involved, trounced your sectarian and racist politics, we're in the business of building solidarity and the mass movement. You're in the business of creating divisions in the movement.

Shape up.
Re: Fred Bergen and the WCE are insane sectarians.
03 Dec 2006
My interlocutor has performed a great public service by showing the world how degenerate the politics of WWP are, and how incapable its supporters are of defending its actions. There's no need to reply to the ridiculous icepick-style name-calling. But there are a few arguments I will respond to.

If the priest is such an "important religious [figure] that unite[s] communities of color," where were all his followers? More importantly, does WWP agree with his pro-police prayers or not? If not, they certainly did not mention any disagreement when they had ample opportunity to do so. That's not solidarity, that's not anti-racism, it's PATRONIZING. WWP is not serious about ending the oppression of black people in the US, because if they were, they wouldn't debauch the name of Rosa Parks or other important fighters for black liberation by using them to organize a forum for the Democratic Party and the Catholic Church. WWP selects blacks and latin@s who share its reformist politics, and uses them to shield itself from criticism by accusing its critics of "racism."

Working Class Emancipation is not able to organize a demonstration in Boston, because we have no members who live there, and are just beginning to develop contacts and subscriptions in MA. You know that as well as we do. Are you saying that people should not come to protests organized by WWP unless they agree with you, or that if we do show up, we shouldn't publicly state our opinions? Who's the crazy sectarian now?

I don't doubt that some of the youth organized in Voices of Liberation believe in revolution, that they want revolution, that they call for revolution. That makes it all the more tragic that the cynical Stalinists of Workers World would try to miseducate them about the role of the popular front, the abandonment of a working class program in order to consummate an alliance with capitalist parties and organizations, Workers World's raison d'être, in betraying the workers and oppressed. It's all the more tragic that Workers World works so hard to promote "money for WXYZ and not for war" and other utopian-reformist demands, that instead of organizing a revolutionary party and fighting to break labor from the Democrats, WWP's program is to organize endless protests to attempt to pressure the Democrats to the left. It's all the more tragic that Workers World promotes Democrats and priests as "leaders" of the oppressed communities, regardless of how much leadership they actually exert or in which direction they lead. It's all the more tragic that Workers World would pawn off the militancy and willingness to struggle of these youth to provide a left cover for its own pathetic reformist politics.

It is really overestimating our influence to say that we are "creating divisions in the movement." These divisions exist regardless of whether and how we intervene, and are based on class differences. We didn't create the difference between reformists and revolutionaries, but, yes, guilty as charged, we are doing everything we can to break the workers and militant youth away from the influence of Stalinism and reformism. Workers World, on the other hand, is in the business of inventing excuses for the Democrats, the Green Party, the labor bureaucracy, bourgeois nationalists, and the counterrevolutionary Stalinist bureaucrats of the deformed workers' states. But despite all your lies and opportunist contortions, fewer and fewer people are showing up for your parades. In itself, this is not a positive thing, unless there is a fighting revolutionary alternative. We are working to build that alternative. WWP members, leave your party and talk to Working Class Emancipation about building a revolutionary party!
See also:
04 Dec 2006
Rosa Parks Human Rights Day 2006. Photos by Eva Skillicorn.