For the rebirth of the Fourth International! - Pelo renascimento da Quarta Internacional!

HomeLinksPortuguêsFrançaisEspañol PublicationsHistoric DocumentsContact




[Spartacist leaflet dated 6 April 1968. Reprinted in Young Spartacus, May 1977]


The murder of Martin Luther King is an indication of the increasingly violent attacks coming against black working people and poor. King was attempting to lead the strike of 1300 Memphis sanitationmen, mostly black, who have been on strike since 12 February. Tremendous community support had developed for the strike, and a successful economic boycott of downtown stores was carried out. The strikers are demanding union recognition, a dues checkoff system and higher wages, since of course black workers are lowest paid.


The response ot the racist white power structure was swift and violent. On 28 March, a march led by King supposedly "exploded" into violence, resulting in the murder of a black youth, Larry Payne, age 16, by the Memphis police. And then on 4 April, King himself was assassinated.


Every capitalist politician has expressed deep grief over the loss of King. LBJ made a nationwide address deploring Violence, after which he called 12,000 troops into Washington, D.C. to keep "order." Vice President Humphrey shed bitter tears, and the Memphis city government promised to catch the killer, although they promised nothing to the striking Memphis sanitationmen. (The garbage in Memphis is still being collected by scabs.) Now Mayor Lindsay wants to attend King's funeral, after having attempted to use troops against the New York City sanitationmen's strike in February.


No government official expressed grief when Malcolm X was murdered while New York City cops stood by, or when Larry Payne was murdered by the Memphis police. None of these weeping officials have even mentioned the striking sanitationmen, who have hung on without regular income for almost two months!


What are these fakers really weeping about? As they keep repeating with urgent tones, they miss the nonviolence which King preached. That's not to say that LBJ and the other fakers themselves believe in non-violence the black ghetto residents of Washington, Detroit, New York, etc., can testify otherwise. But they do believe in non-violence for black working people and poor, since that makes their job so much easier. Reject "blind violence," says LBJ - and let the cops handle things!


These weeping politicians also miss the "friendly" approach of King, who said he was "always willing to negotiate" -- meaning talk behind closed doors with LBJ, Kennedy, etc., to work out some new fake concession. Now they may have to deal more in the open, and perhaps the Democratic and Republican parties may lose their oppressive grip on black working people.


What Now?


1 - The only defense of black working people and poor is by being armed and organized. The racist power structure and its private allies are not nonviolent and so we must be equipped for self-defense. As the Black Panthers of Oakland, California urge: "Buy a gun and stay home."


2 - We must build a Freedom Labor Party. The two major parties, Democrat and Republican, have shown themselves to be tools of the bosses, of the white power structure. All working and poor people, black and white, need a Freedom-Labor Party, based on the power of workers and unemployed, to destroy racism and fight for the interests of working and poor people.


3 - We must fight in the labor movement to throw out the conservative and racist bureaucrats who make deals with the bosses and help maintain the poverty of black workers. To this end, we must struggle for the shorter work week with no loss in pay, which paves the way for the hiring of the millions of unemployed.


4 - We must aid the Memphis sanitationmen to victory against the racist government, upgrading the black worker. We call for united labor action in other cities in support ofthe strikers -- such as the proposed shutdown of the garment center in New York. And we demand that the AFCSME (AFL-CIO), to which the sanitationmen are affiliated, participate in these efforts as well as send money.