For Black Liberation Through Socialist Revolution! Part One
Contradictions of the Civil Rights Movement: A Marxist Analysis
Publisher: International Communist League
Date Written: 25/02/2012
Year Published: 2012
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX16243
We describe the black population in the U.S. as an oppressed race-color caste. From their arrival in this country, the Negro people have been an integral part of American class society while at the same time forcibly segregated at the bottom of this society. Thus blacks face discrimination, in different degrees, regardless of social status, wealth or class position. Blacks are today still an integral and strategic part of the working class, despite unemployment and mass incarceration.
Crucially, black people lacked any material basis for a separate political economy. Whereas the oppressed nations and nationalities of Europe were subjected to forced assimilation, American blacks faced the opposite: forcible segregation.
After Till's murder, his mother mounted a courageous campaign to ensure that the world saw the stark reality of race-terror by displaying her son's mutilated body at his funeral. More than 100,000 people waited in line at a Chicago church to view Till's open casket. So shocking was the horribly mutilated body that an estimated one out of five individuals needed help out of the building. This, along with Rosa Parks' defiant stand in Montgomery, Alabama, in December of that same year, was key in galvanizing many thousands to join the burgeoning civil rights movement.
By the mid 1950s, black anger and the changed conditions gave birth to the civil rights movement-a movement whose core activists were, at the beginning, black proletarians, many of them veterans of World War II or the Korean War. But the organized working class was not an active force in the civil rights movement. Except for a few heroic efforts undertaken by reds, the impressive unionization drive of the 1930s did not breach the Mason-Dixon Line separating North from South.