DETROIT, MICHIGAN, July 30 — Comrades from the Midwest and East Coast joined thousands of teachers at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention in Detroit to expose the dangers of supporting the ruling class liberals. New and veteran comrades joined together for four days of forums, leafleting, selling CHALLENGEs, and meeting teachers nationwide. The peak of our Summer Project was direct political action at the AFT against Vice President Joe Biden (see box).
Capitalism Destroyed Detroit
On the first night, a comrade from Detroit held a meeting to talk about the current state of Detroit. Many of the people of Detroit relied jobs in the automotive industry. Due to the collapse of the auto industry in the 1980s and the recession that followed in the 1990s, factories closed down and many workers were laid off. The initial cut-backs disproportionately affected black workers. The unions in these factories did not fight back against these racist layoffs. As a result, white workers were attacked and lost their jobs as well.
According to our comrade from Detroit, the factories were moved down South and to Mexico where the labor is cheaper and union activity is low. It was a move clearly to maximize profits. Whatever happens to the workers left behind is of no concern to the auto bosses.
Due to the recession, Detroit has suffered greatly. The automotive plants closings led to a sharp decrease in tax revenue. As a result, Detroit ‘sresidents have had to deal with high taxes and cuts to public services such as the fire department, transit system and its schools.
As we drove through the streets of Detroit, we saw the aftermath of the destruction for ourselves. Many of the buildings were either run down or abandoned. Supermarkets are located beyond city limits. There were areas where there was nothing but huge fields of overgrown grass. Some comrades went to Henry Ford high school to do a CHALLENGE sale and noticed that the football field, tennis courts and track field were covered with weeds and overgrown grass.
Fighting Racism in and out of the Classroom
The planning and execution of the Summer Project from the youth leadership of PLP led to the distribution of over 1,500 CHALLENGEs and over 5,000 leaflets that exposed how the capitalists have destroyed Detroit; how the “liberal” Democrats are just as dangerous as the Republicans; and how Diane Ravitch is a ruling-class tool and an enemy of the working class.
Many people, visitors and AFT delegates alike, took notice of our literature and held discussions with us. As the convention went on, some people eagerly took the next piece of literature or could be seen reading CHALLENGE intently. In addition, we received 242 signatures on a petition supporting the struggle in New York to find justice for Shantel Davis, a 23-year-old black woman who was murdered by NYPD detective Philip Atkins.
A forum was held on the limits of unionism, showing the advancements in education past communist revolutions have made. There was also discussion about how the communist revolution PLP is organizing for will be setup to meet the needs of all students.
The horrors in Detroit and the attacks on our children’s education are just a few of many reasons why capitalism fails the working class. What workers need is communism, an egalitarian society based on need, not profit. Progressive Labor Party fights for this goal. Join us in our struggle!
On the day of Vice President Joe Biden’s arrival, we formed two groups. One stayed outside the hall,distributed CHALLENGEs and a leaflet titled “Democratic Party Attacks Education Workers.” Young PL’ers marched up and down, holding signs reading, “Don’t’ Vote. Revolt!” while chanting loud enough for workers inside and outside to hear.
The second group passed security and snuck a big banner inside that read, “Obama, Biden, Romney: Education Reform for Imperialism. Fight Back with Communism!” With the banner unfurled, we marched together through the convention hall, chanting, “Democrats and Republicans, all the same. Racist terror is the name of their game!”
The Secret Service and Detroit police grabbed our banner. We pushed back to stand our ground. Young PL’ers seized the banner back, raised it high, all chanting. While they were shoving us out the building, we were chanting even louder, “Racist Biden you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide!” We chanted for all of the workers Biden and Obama have murdered worldwide in the name of U.S. imperialism, but the union leadership edited this out of their video. PLP was a striking group of young multi-racial teachers and students in a crowd of majority white delegates.
New comrades stepped up to take responsibility for the Party. There was a qualitative difference in many of our newer comrades after this Project. Many commented on how they realized we have no choice but to fight.
One student used the word fascism to describe the conditions for workers worldwide. He said he had never been taught that word in school and now sees exactly what fascism means.Everyone came away from the weekend politically stronger and more committed to advance the fight for communist revolution.