The following two articles by Mao Zedong deal with the African American national liberation struggle and how it relates to the class struggle and the international revolutionary struggle against U.S. imperialism. I am posting them here, on December 26, 2008, to honor the 115th anniversary of the birth of Chairman Mao Zedong.
Oppose Racial Discrimmination By U.S. Imperialism
[“Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism” (August 8, 1963)]
An American Negro leader now taking refuge in Cuba, Mr. Robert Williams, the former President of the Monroe, North Carolina, Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, has twice this year asked me for a statement in support of the American Negroes’ struggle against racial discrimmination. I wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Chinese people, to express our resolute support for the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimmination and for freedom and equal rights.
There are more than nineteen million Negroes in the United States, or about eleven per cent of the total population. Their position in society is one of enslavement, oppression and discrimmination. The overwhelming majority of the Negroes are deprived of their right to vote. On the whole it is only the most back-breaking and most despised jobs that are open to them. Their average wages are only from a third to a half of those of the white people. The ratio of unemployment among them is the highest. In many states they cannot go to the same school, eat at the same table, or travel in the same section of a bus or train with the white people. Negroes are frequently and arbitrarily arrested, beaten up and murdered by U.S. authorities at various levels and members of the Ku Klux Klan and other racists. About half of the American Negroes are concentrated in eleven states in the south of the United States. There, the discrimmination and prosecution they suffer are especially startling.
The American Negroes are awakening, and their resistance is growing ever stronger. In recent years the mass struggle of the American Negroes against racial discrimmination and for freedom and equal rights has been constantly developing.
In 1957 the Negro people in Little Rock, Arkansas, waged a fierce struggle against the barring of their children from public schools. The authorities used armed force against them, and there resulted the Little Rock incident which shocked the world.
In 1960 Negroes in more than twenty states held ‘sit in’ demonstrations in protest against racial segregation in local restaurants, shops and other public places.
In 1961 the Negroes launched a campaign of ‘freedom riders’ to oppose racial segregation in transport, a campaign which rapidly extended to many states.
In 1962 the Negroes in Mississippi fought for the equal right to enrol in colleges and were greeted by the authorities with repression which culminated in a blood bath.
This year, the struggle of the American Negroes started in early April in Birmingham, Alabama. Unarmed, bare-handed Negro masses were subjected to wholesale arrests and the most barbarous repression merely because they were holding meetings and parades against racial discrimmination. On 12 June, an extreme was reached with the cruel murder of Mr. Medgar Evers, a leader of the Negro people in Mississippi. These Negro masses, aroused to indignation and undaunted by ruthless violence, carried on their struggles even more courageously and quickly won the support of Negroes and all strata of the people throughout the United States. A gigantic and vigorous nationwide struggle is going on in nearly every state and city in the United States, and the struggle keeps mounting. American Negro organizations have decided to start a ‘freedom march’ on Washington on 28 August, in which 250,000 people will take part.
The speedy development of the struggle of the American Negroes is a manifestation of the constant sharpening of class struggle and national struggle within the United States; it has been causing increasingly grave anxiety to the U.S. ruling clique. The Kennedy Administration has resorted to cunning two-faced tactics. On the one hand, it continues to connive at and take part in the discrimmination against and persecution of Negroes; it even sends troops to repress them. On the other hand, it is parading as an advocate the ‘defence of human rights’ and the ‘protection of the civil rights of Negroes’, is calling upon the Negro people to exercise ‘restraint’, and is proposing to Congress so-called ‘civil rights legislation’ in an attempt to numb the fighting will of the Negro people and deceive the masses throughout the country. However, these tactics of the Kennedy Administration are being seen through by more and more of the Negroes. The fascist atrocities committed by the U.S. imperialists against the Negro people have laid bare the true nature of the so-called democracy and freedom in the United States and revealed the inner link between the reactionary polices pursued by the U.S. Government at home and its policies of aggression abroad.
I call upon the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals, enlightened elements of the bourgeoisie, and other enlightened personages of all colours in the world, white, black, yellow, brown, etc., to unite to oppose the racial discrimmination practiced by U.S. imperialism and to support the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimmination. In the final analysis, a national struggle is a question of class struggle. In the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling clique among the whites which is oppressing the Negro people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals, and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. At present, it is the handful of imperialists, headed by the United States, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are carrying out oppression, aggression and intimidation against the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world. They are the minority, and we are the majority. At most they make up less than ten percent of the 3,000 million people of the world. I am deeply convinced that, with the support of more than ninety per cent of the people of the world, the just struggle of the American Negroes will certainly be victorious. The evil system of colonialism and imperialism grew on along with the enslavement of the Negroes and the trade in Negroes; it will surely come to its end with the thorough emancipation of the black people.
A New Storm Against Imperialism
[“Statement by Comrade Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Support of the Afro-American Struggle Against Violent Repression” (April 16, 1968)]
Some days ago, Martin Luther King, the Afro-American clergyman, was suddenly assassinated by the U.S. imperialists. Martin Luther King was an exponent of nonviolence. Nevertheless, the U.S. imperialists did not on that account show any tolerance toward him, but used counter-revolutionary violence and killed him in cold blood. This has taught the broad masses of the Black people in the United States a profound lesson. It has touched off a new storm in their struggle against violent repression sweeping well over a hundred cities in the United States, a storm such as has never taken place before in the history of that country. It shows that an extremely powerful revolutionary force is latent in the more than twenty million Black Americans.
The storm of Afro-American struggle taking place within the United States is a striking manifestation of the comprehensive political and economic crisis now gripping U.S. imperialism. It is dealing a telling blow to U.S. imperialism, which is beset with difficulties at home and abroad.
The Afro-American struggle is not only a struggle waged by the exploited and oppressed Black people for freedom and emancipation, it is also a new clarion call to all the exploited and oppressed people of the United States to fight against the barbarous rule of the monopoly capitalist class. It is a tremendous aid and inspiration to the struggle of the people throughout the world against U.S. imperialism and to the struggle of the Vietnamese people against U.S. imperialism. On behalf of the Chinese people, I hereby express resolute support for the just struggle of the Black people in the United States.
Racial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction. Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the Black people in the United States win complete emancipation. The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progessives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.
In 1963, in the “Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism,” I said that the “the evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the Black people.” I still maintain this view.
At present, the world revolution has entered a great new era. The struggle of the Black people in the United States for emancipation is a component part of the general struggle of al the people of the world against U.S. imperialism, a component part of the contemporary world revolution. I call on the workers, peasants, and revolutionary intellectuals of all countries and all who are willing to fight against U.S. imperialism to take action and extend strong support to the struggle of the Black people in the United States! People of the whole world, unite still more closely and launch a sustained and vigorous offensive against our common enemy, U.S. imperialism, and its accomplices! It can be said with certainty that the complete collapse of colonialism, imperialism, and all systems of exploitation, and the complete emancipation of all the oppressed peoples and nations of the world are not far off.
Paul Robeson sings the national anthem of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949
For more on the African American national question see:
- The 1928 and 1930 Comintern Resolutions on the African American National Question
- Negro Liberation (PDF) by Harry Haywood
- The Negro Nation (Chapter VII of Negro Liberation) by Harry Haywood
- The Struggle for the Leninist Position on the Negro Question in the United States by Harry Haywood
- Documents from School on Afro-American National Question by the Revolutionary Political Organization (Marxist-Leninist) and the Amilcar Cabral/Paul Robeson Collective
- On the Afro American National Question by the Revolutionary Communist League (M-L-M)
- Nationalism, Self-Determination and Socialist Revolution by Amiri Baraka
- Statement on National Oppression, National Liberation and Socialist Revolution by the Freedom Road Socialist Organization
- The Third International and the Struggle for a Correct Line on the African American National Question by FRSO
- Fred Hampton – A Fighter for Black Liberation, Revolution and Socialism by FRSO
- Black Like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution by Robin D. G. Kelley and Betsy Esche
adapted from my Marxist-Leninist study guide