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People’s Thanksgiving 2015 - FRSO speech by Frank Chapman

By staff |
December 5, 2015
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Frank Chapman at Aug. 29 rally for CPAC. (U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN))

Chicago, IL - We are circulating the text of Frank Chapman’s Dec. 5 speech at Chicago’s 24th annual People’s Thanksgiving event, hosted by Fight Back! newspaper. Frank Chapman is a veteran of the Black Liberation Movement. He was a victim of wrongful imprisonment as a young man, and then, like Malcolm X, George Jackson and others, became politicized in prison. His release was won through a political struggle led by none other than Angela Davis.

From 1981 through 1989, Frank was the executive director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. In the past five years, he’s returned to that work, leading the campaign of the Chicago Alliance to win an elected, civilian police accountability council. This would amount to community control of the police, an idea first raised by the Black Panther Party over 40 years ago.

Let me just say up front that as a Black Marxist-Leninist, I have decided to join the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. For the last five years, I have been a Marxist-Leninist without a Marxist-Leninist organization or party. For me, this is an unbearable contradiction and I choose to dissolve it this evening.

When I say we live in momentous times, I am not being melodramatic. Think about it! In just a little over a year, we have seen the uprising against brutal police murders and repression in our communities rise to unprecedented levels of fight back and organized resistance; we have seen the movement against police crimes free Howard Morgan (former police officer shot 28 times by fellow officers); we have exposed the racist/political frame-up of Rasmea Odeh to millions while successfully winning her fight for bail; we have joined, in united actions, the struggles of the Palestinian people to the struggles of Black people; we have written some new pages in the fight to unite the trade union movement with the struggle for Black Liberation; and we have most recently witnessed the Chicago Teachers Union brave vicious, racist attacks and pass a resolution endorsing the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression’s campaign for an all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). And this is truly a reflection of the momentous times in which we live.

A number of comrades in Freedom Road Socialist Organization helped lay the groundwork for the Chicago Teachers Union resolution endorsing CPAC. I mention this because I know that they never seek recognition for the great work they do in our movement.

Another momentous event that has agitated into more massive protests of Black people is the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Nothing has precipitated the present political crisis in our city like the release of the incriminating video of the execution/murder of Laquan. The release of this video has exposed to Chicago and the world the rotten core of the utter lack of police accountability under the present system. This provides the movement here with the unique opportunity to advance the fight for, and win, community control of the police. Unlike any other city in this nation, and because of the movement we have here, Chicago can bring about a systemic change that will help empower the people to hold the police accountable.

In the electoral arena, we have seen the anti-capitalist sentiments of the working class find expression in the campaign of Bernie Sanders for president. But what Bernie is tapping into is more than just a hatred of bankers, the thieves of Wall Street, and the billionaire barons; he is also tapping into the emergence of a class conscious workers’ movement wanting and seeking a socialist solution to capitalist exploitation, and racist and national oppression. The present so-called financial crisis of capitalism has created unspeakable economic inequality and social misery for countless millions of workers of every creed, color and sexual orientation. The political crisis reflecting this economic collapse of capitalism is expressed in the government policies of budget cuts that increase the impoverishment of workers, and tax breaks that further enrich the wealthy. We maintain that there is really no way out of this political crisis except the path of socialism.

Capitalism had outlived its usefulness by the time Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848. By this I simply mean that the contradiction between socialized production and private appropriation was full blown and the material conditions (in the more developed countries) for the existence for socialism were present.

I believe that the last 150 years of capitalism has largely been a history of the ruling class of capitalist society using all the institutions of government to impose upon humanity an economic system that perpetually creates poverty in the midst of plenty and plunders our whole planet to satisfy the greed of less than 1% of the human race. Capitalism today - like never before - is a dying order incapable of relieving humanity of the problems of poverty, war and genocide, and so its continued enforced existence is the greatest crime of all time perpetrated against the human race.

I have decided to join the Freedom Road Socialist Organization because as a Marxist-Leninist, I do not want only to be part of the struggles for Black Liberation, democracy, peace and social justice. I do not want only to be reacting to the crimes of capitalism. I want to be fighting for the end of capitalism.

We are a young organization and we are subject to all the vagaries and errors of youth. However, being young and being willing to stand on the shoulders of the giants of the socialist movement who have preceded us, we also have the potential of seeing further and progressing further up the road to socialism.

There is continuity and discontinuity in the historical development of movements. We must build on and defend our revolutionary heritage, and in going forward, we must always find the courage to break with fool-hardy and cowardly mistakes that mock our revolutionary past and mar our vision of the future. We must seize the momentous times in which we live and boldly fight for socialism!

Fortune favors the bold, and the future belongs to those who fight for it!

December 5, 2015