Revolution #119, February 10, 2008
Comments From Our Readers
From Harlem to Jena
Editors’ note: This letter was selected from reader comments and correspondence to Revolution. We’re printing it (and will continue to print more correspondence) to give readers a sense of the letters sent to Revolution, and to spark more interactivity between this paper and readers, and among readers. Selecting and printing letters does not imply that we agree, or disagree, with them.
It’s a long way from the concrete sidewalks of New York City to the back roads of Jena, Louisiana. But, for the second time in less than five months, the Harlem Revolution Club decided to make that journey.
The last time—September 20, 2007—the club joined tens of thousands who converged on Jena to demand “Free the Jena 6!” This time around, our club took up the call of the January 21st Committee to come to Jena. The Klansmen was coming with their nooses, confederate flags, and guns demanding “Jail the
Jena 6”—“No more Martin Luther King Holiday” and “Down with Communism.” We had to go down to help politically drown out these racists and make it known that we will not tolerate white supremacy in any form and to stand with all those willing to stand up. We wanted to make it known that we need a revolution and a communist society and an end to the horrors of KKK-style white supremacy.
Just like last time, the club went to people on the streets of Harlem, into the schools and even on the subway to raise the funds to go to Jena and to get the masses themselves involved in this struggle. That mobilization for the Jena 6 rally in September is what actually got me involved with the Harlem Revolution Club, so I understood the importance of asking people to do their part around the January 21 rally.
When I got into that van early Sunday morning, January 20, for the 26-hour ride halfway across the country, this lifelong New Yorker who’s never seen the Deep South before knew I was in for an experience.
I saw my first Confederate battle flag, nonchalantly displayed on the wall of a Chattanooga, Tennessee gas station ($9.95 plus tax). We saw that symbol of hate over and over again as we traveled. The Jena little league baseball team’s logo even has the “stars and bars” on it!
I saw my first Klansman face to face. He was just on the other side of a Louisiana State Police squad car in front of the Jena courthouse. He was dressed head to toe in camouflage and wore a KKK baseball cap emblazoned with, of course, a Confederate flag. Thanks to our rally, he and his Klucker buddies got their message of racism drowned out that day.
Folks from many corners of the country came to Jena to say no to nooses, no to white supremacy and to demand freedom for the Jena 6. We were different races and ages. It was something. And, I was really proud that our club wanted to be at the front when we faced the Klan rally at the town courthouse and drowned them out.
After the rally we saw how poor Black people live in the rural Deep South when our caravan of about 20 cars took our message into the Black neighborhoods of Jena. Along one-lane roads, some of which were unpaved, there were little trailers, one floor housing projects, and small houses surrounded by vacant lots. It seemed that every fourth house was burnt out or abandoned.
We felt the warmth of the Black people in Jena in their welcomes. They waved to us from the doorways of their homes and the side of the road. “I love y’all,” one older man yelled out as our van passed. Youth, mothers with small children, and older people beamed wide smiles as they grabbed up copies of Revolution newspaper.
During those long hours rolling along the interstate, I got to participate in some very deep and thoughtful discussions—both one-on-one talks and collective discussions with everybody in the van.
In the latter discussions, using Chairman Bob Avakian’s series in Revolution newspaper as a starting off point, we talked about the significance of our participation in the rally, and we wrestled for hours with what it means to fight the power and transform the people for revolution.
I was inspired by this whole effort—by the four days of mobilization on the streets of Harlem, by the long cross country journey to confront the Klan, and by all that we were a part of in Jena. I’m sure that sentiment is shared by everybody who was in our van.
Revolution reader in Harlem
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.