Mao Zedong on the assassination of Martin Luther King

The Marxist-Leninist is posting the following in recognition of MLK Day:

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.


Chinese flyer showing sites of African American rebellions following the assassination of Dr. King. The text at the top of the page is the text of this statement by Chairman Mao

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.

[See also, Mao Zedong: “I Place My Hopes On the People of the U.S.”]

5 responses to “Mao Zedong on the assassination of Martin Luther King

  1. An excellent piece. It reminds us that the civil rights movement is/must be a class issue. Racism and all oppression must be fought on class lines. The aim of the ruling class is to muddy the water by trying to seperate this struggle into single issue movements of race, nationality, religion, sex, sexuality etc, and this divides the working class and takes away the focus from the real cause of all oppression which is capitalism. The single issues are important but must all be dealt with cumulatively as one issue – the ruling class oppressing the working class. Sadly the eye has gone off the ball in this regard.

    • Thanks for your comment, Simon. Though I have to say, I don’t entirely agree with you. This isn’t just a race question in the U.S. It is a national question, and as such it is a little more complicated.

      The African American liberation struggle is a struggle against national oppression for full equality and self-determination. The national struggle for the liberation of the African American Nation in the Black Belt of the U.S. South is a multi-class national liberation struggle. As Mao says, national struggles are class struggles, and this is true in that they are struggles against the monopoly bourgeoisie by a united bloc of classes within the nation – the proletariat, the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie. This struggle needs to be led by the African American working class, and needs to be aligned with the multinational working class’ struggle for socialism. This strategic alliance between the national movements and the multinational working class is the core of the United Front Against Monopoly Capitalism. The idea that racism in the U.S. is just a distraction from the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat isn’t a Marxist-Leninist view, but rather a Trotskyist one.

      Please see the FRSO’s documents: Class in the U.S. and Our Strategy for Revolution, the Unity Statement on National Oppression, National Liberation and Socialist Revolution, and the pamphlet on the Third International and the Struggle for a Correct Line on the African American National Question for more info. See also the archive of material on the national question in the U.S. here at The Marxist-Leninist.

  2. cool story bro

  3. K.S.Parthasarathy

    The problem with the Left is this..we are so many independant hoses bearing names such as Trotsky, Marx, Lenin, Mao etc..If there could be conflict so much between these strains in Ideology then Communism as a perfect science is false. Basic tenet of communist practice is that that : in practice that the differences get resolved and not through further class room theorising. If we practice at crioss purposes it only delights our class enemey. There is only one struggle that it is class struggle and any struggle that cannot be seen as class struggle need not get priority..they all get desolved once class strugggle succeeds in dethroning Capital and power is restored to people. What prevents us from getting united in our struggle? We often hate our other left movemnt even more than the Reaction. That has helped the Capital to sponsor/aid different groups of Left covertly, to do their behest.

    We are mourning in India the death of vetern Left Leader Jyothi Basu. I refuse to call him leader of CPM only. He is being extolled for his loyalty to his Party. He was to become Prime Minsiter once. But his Partymandarins refused permission. With the result it went to one of inglorious feudal leadewr with disastrous consequences to united front movemnt. If Loyalty is THE PRINCIPAL, I agree it is, then they all went disloyal when they broke the original Communist Party due to sectarian outlook instigated by Mao. The Indian Communist movemnt which was the leading opposition in the first Parliament of Independant India, never recovered its position .

    No comment needed about the state of affairs in China about their brand of Communism.

    Let us operate under the appreciation of the fact that there is no internationally linked movemnt except for getting together often. Even there there are many international groups. Left to operate only at national level, Left has to lead the democratic struggle first.

    While the international monopoly capital is rotten maturing, the Left is still struggling to find single voice and missing opportunity. Unless Left completes national democratic revolution, it cannot act internationally. The Black movemnt of King did achieve great results , inspite of Mao’s aversion to non violence. As far as US is concerned I feel the idea nationalist force could be applicable to the original inhabitants. All others being settlers of one kind or other, their struggles could only be class struggle, expressed as racial, ethnic, national(as far as aborigins are concerned). In US non violent methods and democratic methods are the best forms of struggle. When I see even a person like Noam Chomsky is having so little influence locally, there is no justification for so many left strands.

    I participated in a rally in San Fransisco. I found there were some fifty organisations there . each bringing a few office bearers! That is not a force of which the establishment could be afraid. They just cooperated with the demonstrators to do whatever they wanted to do. They were no threat to them afterall! There was no rallying ..but expressions of different nuances on the same subject..

    I call upon all communist varieties to close their offices, merge on the basis of a single point agenda, keeping aside all other theoretical subtle diffrences for the time being. The united struggle will resolve them automatically when the revolution matures.

  4. I agree with you. The fragmentation has made it very convenient for the capitalistic setup to co-opt by the torn struggles spaces in democracy. It is high time we realise this.

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