Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! Illinois
You know people are having fun at a political event when community activist Jeanette Taylor, a candidate for city council, gets the room to sing along to Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman! The feeling continued when Christel Williams, a candidate for a principal office in the Chicago Teachers Union, led the singing of Ella’s Song.
The mood at Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! ’s event for International Women’s Day 2019 was festive, but also militant. As Erica Anna of FRSO said at the outset, “Our program for this evening includes musical performances, some poetry, and a drag performance, as well as words from women active in local movements. Though International Women’s Day isn’t broadly celebrated in the U.S., we wanted to come together to lift up the revolutionary tradition of this day, honor the contributions of all people oppressed for their gender, and create some joy in a society that sees us as playthings and property.”
Taylor had led the fight to save Dyett High School in the Bronzeville community, and now is a leading advocate for community control of the police through an elected, civilian police accountability council (CPAC).
More than 150 people attended the March 9 event.
Speakers included Sue Sadlowski Garza, the alderwoman from Chicago’s 10th Ward, who introduced herself as the first member of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) to sit on the city council; Jazmine Salas and Veronica Tirado Mercado from Chicago Boricua Resistance, committed to fighting the U.S. pillage of Puerto Rico; Jen Conant, chair of the CTU Chicago International Charter School council, and a leader in the victorious nine-day strike of teachers and paraprofessionals in February; and Love Jordan of Gabriela, the Filipina patriotic women’s organization. Later, another CTU militant, Tara Stamps, rose to call for support for Shoneice Reynolds, a mentor for Black students in the Oak Park/River Forest schools. Reynolds was suspended because of recent Black high school student protests on the anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin.
Alexandra Westberry, a trans woman, an activist with Students for a Democratic Society at College of DuPage, and a member of FRSO, spoke about how the oppression of women is built into this capitalist society.
“Trump’s rise to power, with his overt sexual aggression and interest in male domination, has borne out intensified attacks on women. In response, masses of women have risen up in opposition. There have been millions of women in the streets and in defiant resistance to the pigs in power,” said Westberry.
Westberry concluded, “I am hopeful that in groups like this, we can build the revolutionary fight against patriarchy together, from the Philippines, to Puerto Rico, to right here in Chicago.”
International Workers Day marked in Chicago
May 2, 2018, Chicago. IL - The meeting room at the United Electrical workers building in Chicago rang with song, as 60 working people of all nationalities and backgrounds - Black, Chicano, Mexicano, Honduran, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Asian, and white - gathered together to celebrate International Workers Day. Sponsored by Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), the crowd was made up of fighters from the many battle lines in the class struggle and the national liberation movements.
Frank Chapman of FRSO told the story of how May Day began in Chicago in 1886, remembering the martyrs and the first general strike in the world fighting for the eight-hour day.
A special guest of the event was Mong Palatino, a youth activist and former congressman from the Philippines, who was speaking on behalf of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the May First Movement of industrial workers of the Philippines. He condemned the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for the 28-hour abduction and torture of Jerome Succor Aba, a Muslim or Moro activist from the Philippines who was to have been part of a delegation with Palatino. Their speaking tour, called “Stop the Killings,” exposed the murders of upwards of 20,000 people in the past two years by the U.S.-backed Duterte government in Manila.
No gathering to celebrate the class struggle here would be complete without the red shirted Chicago Teachers Union. Maria Moreno, Financial Secretary of CTU Local 1 spoke about their history of struggle, and the wave of teachers strikes across the country.
Also at the gathering were a number of workers, including warehouse workers from Amazon and UPS, as well as UPS drivers. Daniel Ginsberg, a rank-and-file leader in Teamsters Local 705, and also a member of FRSO, explained that class struggle unionism is needed to defeat the bosses’ war against workers. Another UPS truck driver, Benjamin James Cline, led the room in singing Solidarity Forever.
Byron Sigcho of the Pilsen Alliance, a community organization in the Chicano and Mexicano immigrant community near downtown Chicago, agitated the crowd to fight racist attacks on Blacks and Latinos; to demand rent control for low-income workers; and to stand up to the police and support the elected, civilian police accountability council put forward by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “We must combat racism with socialism!”
Chicago Alliance and FRSO member, Yahama Tunson, performed a poem inspired by FRSO’s newspaper, Fight Back!. And finally, Honduran revolutionary singer, Karla Lara, helped lead the singing of the International, the hymn of the working class sung all over the world and in every language on this day. The room sang along in English, Spanish and Filipino.
"International Women's Day with Rasmea Odeh"
Special guest Rasmea Odeh. Her courage and strength as she faces ongoing persecution by the U.S. Dept. of Justice has made her a symbol of the resistance by women in Palestine and in the struggles for national liberation all over the world.
Other guests included Mariame Kaba, founder of the NIA Project in Chicago, and one of the members of We Charge Genocide, the group that appeared before the UN Committee on Torture to expose the Chicago Police, Sarah Chambers, a member of the bargaining committee of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) that led the strike in 2012, and co-chair of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, leaders in CTU, Kait McIntyre, a leading anti-war activist in Chicago, and a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!.
Those indicating they would attend on Wherevent included Nadine Darwish, Lisa Grown Johnson, Bonnie Coyle, Kait McIntyre, Yiska Schwartz, Nancy Hammond, Charlotte Kates, Rima Isam Anabtawi, Sarah Wild, Julia Mearsheimer, Ahndrea Nicole Sprattling, Nick Suess, Gofraidh Westberry, Abdullah Al Bayyari Amara, Joe Iosbaker, Alfonso Casal, Timmy Rose, Abdul Rahman Al Sayed-Taha, Richard Reilly, Amoo Sam, Mike Siviwe Elliott, Benjamin Cline, Zach Taylor, Bill Chambers, Jeff Pickert . 
International Women’s Day, 2018
Women from the national liberation struggles and the working class were honored at Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!’s annual event in Chicago, March 10 2018, to celebrate International Women’s Day. More than 60 activists heard about the Black liberation movement icons, Marion Stamps and Sylvia Woods.
Stamps, a member of the Black Panther Party, went on as an organizer in the Cabrini Green housing project to help elect Mayor Harold Washington in 1983. Marion’s memory was honored by her daughter, Tara Stamps, a leader in the Chicago Teachers Union.
Sylvia Woods began in the 1930s as a laundry worker who led a successful fight for unionization. A lifelong member of the Communist Party USA, she was the head of the Chicago Committee to Free Angela Davis, and founding co-chair of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Her story was told by Mildred Williamson, who was recruited by Woods to the Alliance.
Nesreen Hasan of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network spoke about and read a statement from Chicago’s beloved Palestinian community leader, Rasmea Odeh. Because of her years of dedication to Palestine, Rasmea was targeted by the U.S. government and deported last year to Jordan. She reported that her work for Palestine continues, and she expressed certainty in the victory of the cause.
Joy Sales of the Filipina women’s group, GABRIELA, shared the story Maria Lorena Barros, a martyr of the Philippines national democratic revolution, and founder of MAKIBAKA, a militant women’s organization.
Jazmine Salas, co-chair of the Stop Police Crimes committee of the Alliance and the main organizer of the panel, gave a passionate account about the Puerto Rican heroine, Lolita Lebron. Lebron led an armed action to demand independence for her homeland, leading three men fighters from her Nationalist Party to assault the U.S. Congress in 1954.
Nataki Rhodes, co-chair of the Alliance Steering Committee, and Jennifer No, a field coordinator for the Alliance, described the #CopsToo campaign for justice for women victims of rape and sexual assault by members of the Chicago Police Department.
Salas saluted Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! for sponsoring the program, and said that only with socialism, “can women achieve full political, social and economic equality.” She explained that, “Under socialism, all workers, including women, would control the means of production.” She pointed to socialist Cuba to show how women’s liberation became possible with the revolution in 1959.
- [http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/3/12/international-women-s-day-celebrated-chicago FB News International Women’s Day celebrated in Chicago By staff | March 12, 2019]
- [http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/5/2/international-workers-day-marked-chicago FB News, International Workers Day marked in Chicago By staff | May 2, 2018]
- Wherevent "International Women's Day with Rasmea Odeh"
- Women’s Day in Chicago By staff | March 11, 2018