Communist Party of Ohio

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The Communist Party of Ohio is affiliated with the Communist Party USA.

Personnel

  • Jim West - State Chairman of the Communist Party of Ohio, and member of the Political Bureau, CPUSA[1]

Century of communism in Ohio

From Joe Sims: Happy 100th birthday Communist Party USA! On behalf of the leadership of our fighting party, Rossana Cambron and I want to greet this Ohio celebration of our 100th anniversary. And we’ve got a lot to celebrate. For 100 years, our party has been in the thick of the class and democratic battles of our country, and that includes here in the Buckeye State.

Today we remember and say the names of Charles Ruthenberg of Cleveland, who led the fight in 1919 to help found our party and became its first general secretary. We remember Joe Dallet of Youngstown, who joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and fought and died defending democracy on the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War.

We remember Gus Hall and Elizabeth Hall, who helped lead the Little Steel Strike in Youngstown and Warren, and who went to jail defending this party’s right to participate in the political process and went on to lead our party for close to 3 decades. We remember Ed Chaka of Cleveland, who served on our Central Committee, Betty Chaka, who is 102 years old and is still with us still struggling, George Edwards of Lorain, the ex-minister turned steelworker with the pink hat, who led the steelworkers rank-and-file movement and the steelworkers retirees. We remember Anton Krchmarek, Pete Coston, Melvin Moore, Jim West and Audrey West, and Roz Sims, who stood strong and fought for our party to survive. I could go on but suffice it to say that it is because of these courageous women and men that we stand here today, able to look back to our past and forward to our future.

These were women who, after the picket lines at the steel strike were attacked, workers killed and heads bloodied, returned to the line day after day until the strike was settled. These were men and women who during the 1950s literally fought their way in and out of swimming pools in Youngstown, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, demanding the right to swim in waters free of bigotry.

They stood beside Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois in Youngstown and Cleveland when most refused to say their names, offering their homes, churches, and hearts, and allowing their voices to break the silence.

They marched with King on Washington in 63, stood on the picket line in Lordstown in the 60s, and protested the Vietnam War. It was these workers who were the first to make the call that led to the AFL-CIO Solidarity Day demonstrations.

And when the steel industry collapsed in the 70s and 80s, it was these communist workers who led the fight to save our jobs in Youngstown, Cleveland, Gary, and Chicago.

But the eyes of those who came before us were not only fixed on our own struggles here. No, their vision was also cast abroad, and yes, they fought for Mandela’s freedom, a homeland for Palestine, and for an end to the blockade of Cuba.

This, comrades, brothers and sisters, is our history, and ain’t nobody going to take it from us. But I want to say today is that as great as this history is – it is not enough. Today we are called upon to make a new history of engaging in new battles standing side-by-side with our people and our class.

Today we face a challenge as great or perhaps even greater than any in our history. One of those challenges is named Donald Trump, and the group of Ku Kluxers and neo-Nazis grouped around his administration. And that’s what they are: a bunch of Ku Kluxers and neo-Nazis and don’t let nobody tell you nothing different.

And defeating them is as important as defeating Hitler and Mussolini during World War II. And that means supporting the effort to impeach Trump in the House of Representatives and his trial in the U.S. Senate. It means bringing every pressure to bear and building a mass movement demanding that Trump be impeached now. We can’t leave it to the politicians – the people have to keep the pressure on.

And obviously, it also means organizing and mobilizing everyone we know to come out and vote in next year’s election because the GOP has to be defeated up and down the ballot: for dog catcher, school board, city council, mayor, state rep – you name it. It’s hard to imagine how we can move forward without that kind of effort.

We’ve also got to support the striking workers at General Motors who are soon to be joined by other autoworkers of the Big Three. It’s the most important strike of the last decade, and a lot will depend on its outcome. Look at it this way: Next year’s election will be decided in the swing states, among them Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And this is where a big section of these workers live. If the UAW wins the strike and Trump, the big banks and GM’s role are exposed – well, you can guess what that’s going to mean on election day.

And while we’re doing all of this, we’ve got to support the Green New Deal. Our towns and cities here in Ohio need to be rebuilt, and they need to rebuild on a sustainable basis. And that’s what the Green New Deal provides for green jobs and just transition.

And lastly, as we engage in these struggles, we’ve got to build this party. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Why? Because our working class and people need the power and vision, the power and unity of a working-class revolutionary party. And so we’re going to build this party and ain’t nobody going to stop us. Not Trump, not Pence, not Pompeo, not Stephen Miller. Not GM or U.S. Steel.[2]

Tyner visit

CPUSA leader Jarvis Tyner, spoke to a packed house of students and faculty on the campus of Ohio University, Athens October 2018. Tyner, invited to speak of the role of African Americans and women in the CPUSA, also addressed the current fight to defeat the Trump administration and its Congressional supporters in next week’s midterm elections. “The midterm elections” he said, “is one of the most important, if not the most important election in U.S. history.”

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Beginning with a brief history of capitalism in the United States, the leader of the NY District of the CP, explaining how Native Americans, African slaves and Mexicans were amongst the first to lose their land, resources and personal freedoms as a result of colonization and imperialist expansion. “The African Americans’ struggle against capitalism in this country didn’t start with the foundation of our party in 1919 nor with the freedom won by slaves from bondage in 1865. It started when the first African was kidnapped from the shores of Africa,” stated Tyner.

Attendees of the event included the CPUSA’s Ohio district organizer, Rick Nagin, and the Party’s Columbus, Ohio club organizer, Anita Waters. After Tyner’s speech and a brief session for questions asked by the audience, students were invited to the front of the lecture hall to check out a literature table in addition to possibly signing up as members.

Following the lecture, Tyner participated in a meet and greet with pizza provided by the university’s Center for Law, Justice and Culture where he elaborated on the impact of capitalism on the African American community and the contributions of popular black Communist leaders such as Henry Winston, Benjamin Davis, Charlene Mitchell, and W.E.B. DuBois.

Tyner also made an appearance at the campus library in order for journalism and political science students to interview him and have one-on-one conversations about his life in the movement and Marxism-Leninism.

Tyner and the Ohio comrades present also made it a point to visit locally-owned family restaurants such as Thai Paradise and El Camino in Athens and Mad Greek in Columbus. A total of five new members joined in person during Tyner’s stay.

When asked about the future of socialism in this country and the role that the CPUSA would play in it, Jarvis replied by saying, “U.S. citizens under 30 are interested in socialism now more than ever. Now is the time to rebuild the Party and we will do so brick by brick, if necessary. Socialism is the future of humankind!”

Tyner traveled to Athens, Ohio to help rebuild the Young Communist League that he helped build and promote back in 1972 when it was called the “Young Workers Liberation League.” The CPUSA national committee member, was invited to Ohio University by student and faculty-led organizations such as the Black Student Cultural Programming Board, the Multicultural Center, the LGBT Center, the Center for Law, Justice and Culture and the local Communist Party branch (Club Frida Kahlo).[3]

Cleveland Club, CPUSA

The Cleveland club is gearing up for all out involvement in the November (2018) elections and has launched an innovative Marxist education project. The club is taking part in the monthly summer AFL-CIO canvasses in June, July and August. The club has called for the central labor council to hold a local Solidarity Day Rally where each union could promote its special issues and invite all of labor’s allies to take part. The club also assigned comrades to take part in the Poor People’s Campaign, again to increase “street heat” and drive home the importance of the issues at play in November.

Several members are active in the Democratic Ward Club and County Central Committee. In this way the club will help mobilize voters to defeat right-wing extremist candidates in November. They will be canvassing their precincts, doing literature drops and processing data.

During the primary, the club supported Dennis Kucinich’s campaign for governor. Unfortunately, he lost, but the club developed good relationships with his volunteers. One joined the “Better World’s Birthday Party” reading club that meets weekly to discuss Rick Nagin’s new book, “A Better World in Birth: Principles of Scientific Socialism/ A Handbook for Revolutionary Change”. The reading club was organized by one of the club members, mostly in their 20’s. They meet every Sunday and has grown to 15 participants. This could become the basis for forming a new party club. This discussion is building understanding of the importance of grass roots movements, being active in the elections as well as the need for socialism.[4]

The Columbus, Ohio, Club of the CPUSA

According to Anita Waters, The Columbus, Ohio, Club of the CPUSA has had a very active spring. First, we adopted a new name: the Anna Hass Morgan Club. Anna Morgan was an open Communist who lived in Columbus in the 1940s and 50s. She was active with the United Electrical Workers’ Union, and struggles against environmental racism and Jim Crow laws in the Columbus area. She was a “defiant witness” who was hounded by government about her party membership for seven years, until she won her case before the Supreme Court. Over the year before we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the CPUSA, our club educationals have focused on the history and theory of our party.

With brave comrades from the party’s history as inspiration, the Anna Morgan Club is active on many fronts. We are actively campaigning for ballot issues like fair districts, prison reform and environmental justice. We are fully aware that Ohio voters supported our current president by ten points, so our electoral work is cut out for us. At the same time, our electorate is energized by the tasks ahead and by the sorry state of the scandal-ridden local GOP, who have run Ohio like a one-party state. For electoral work, Anna Morgan Club members are working with Working America (the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO) to elect gubernatorial and Senate candidates who will stand with working families and support the rights of labor. We are working locally with Yes We Can, an affiliate of the Working Families Party, to support progressive candidates, get money out of politics, and enhance democracy in the Central Ohio area. Several of us are involved in Indivisible Groups that aim to oust some of the more egregious political scumbags who have represented us so poorly in Washington in the past. Finally, we have linked up with the Poor People’s Campaign, attending weekly rallies at the Ohio Statehouse to highlight injustices that we can no longer abide.

While much of our work is through mass organizations like those, we enjoy coming together as comrades regularly to share stories, discuss Party history, and develop strategies for today. At least once a month, we get together to critically evaluate the products of one of Columbus’s many craft breweries – it’s one of our duties as Communists and we’re happy to oblige.[5]

East Central Ohio [ECO] CPUSA Club

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East Central Ohio [ECO] CPUSA Club Closed Facebook Group, accessed June 21, 2017;

CPUSA-OH is a club of CPUSA, YCL, and progressive supporters located in the eastern part of central Ohio (extending from the Ohio River, westward to near Zanesville, north to near New Philadelphia, and south to the Marietta area.[6]

Admin

Members

Backing the PWW

In January 1998 fourteen Ohio labor leaders, headed by Dick Acton, vice president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, sent a letter to their contemporaries urging their financial support of the Communist Party USA's People's Weekly World. The letter, which was sent to 50 labor leaders in the Cleveland area of Northeast Ohio said the World "tells our story and unhesitatingly takes our side. It was there when we needed it and now it needs is."

References