CPUSA Youth Conference: Why we are here

BY:Jarvis Tyner| September 21, 2010
CPUSA Youth Conference: Why we are here

Welcome Address to the Communist Party USA Youth Conference
Chicago, IL
July 17-18, 2010

Good Morning comrades,

On behalf of the national broad of the Party, the Coordinating Committee of the Young Communist League (YCL) and the interim Party/YCL committee I want to welcome to this conference on the Youth Generation.

First I want to thank the Illinois district of the party for hosting this event. With out the efforts of John Bachtell the district chair this conference would not have been possible.

I especially want to thank all of you who have traveled long distances to be here in at the beautiful Unity Center. It is so good to see you. And to those who have joined us on the telephone I say thank you for taking the time and effort to be with us this weekend. It is so good to have you with us.  

We are here this weekend to better meet the urgent challenges of the fight for jobs and the building of our Party and League.

The crisis of youth unemployment is doing great damage to working families and communities especially communities of color. Those within the sound of my voice who have experienced the great hardships of joblessness know what I’m talking about. For black and brown youth the problem is catastrophic in some communities the rate has been over 50% for youth for decades. That has consequences, big consequences.

Frankly the rise in violence and murders taking place in black and brown communities across this country has a lot to do with long term, severe youth unemployment in those communities. We know unemployment running above 50% and higher will bring disastrous consequences. These conditions exist among, Native American and Asian Pacific youth across all this country. It is truly a national crisis.

It’s also a moral and cultural crisis.

A job is more than a paycheck, it is also a connection to society a relationship that makes you feel a part, makes you feel you have a stake in society. Joblessness, especially long term joblessness, is also like getting a pink slip from society. And when that happens, there is a level of alienation and depression that drives millions of youth to destructive behavior. And this ruling class has a hundred traps out there to destroy young people. Unemployment kills; unemployment can have the most destructive impact not only for our youth but also for society as a whole. With that in mind think of this, according to a recent McClatchy Report, “only 55% of 16-24 year olds in our country are working or looking for work.

We have to ask an important question. “What is happening to the 45% who are not working and stopped looking?” How are they surviving?

When the private sector and the government being fully aware of the crisis of youth unemployment decides to do next to nothing (private sector) and actually cuts government programs like summer jobs and offer far less then what is urgently needed, we have a moral crisis. It is an economic crisis, which if not addressed, tears away at the moral fibers of our society and the viability of our democracy.

Scotty Marshall, a vice chair of our party and our labor secretary has a great story to tell on the new developments in the organization of the unemployed and what’s on the horizon. We look forward to that and we want to hear what is happening in your state.

Comrades, the fight for youth jobs is critical to defeating the right. The Republican line on unemployment compensation is that it destroys the initiative of the unemployed to look for work. That’s not credible.

They are not for the extension of benefits because “it will add to the deficit”. Imagine, these extremists are for spending $5 billion a month for war and keeping the trillion-dollar tax cut for the rich in place but they say, “We can’t afford to help the unemployed”. That is a disgrace. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

This is what we are fighting against. The jobs movement, comrades, is key to defeating these ultra right stooges of the ultra rich. It will also help in the fight against racism and for immigrant rights because the key demand is government sponsored job creation.

A united fight for jobs requires unity not division.

The proposed job’s march on Washington in October 2nd will be a very important show of strength and a way to mobilize for the November elections.

The youth jobs movement can help unite and activate the powerful youth vote next November.

I tell you comrades; we have to work on this.

While we do that we have to revitalize the YCL and help it reach its potential. This country needs the Young Communist League.

Young people today are very progressive. With all the anti youth propaganda to the contrary, our Party is in praise of this generation of youth. There efforts made an historic contribution to the people’s victory in 2008. Their idealism, their hopes and dreams for a more democratic progressive future for our country naturally leads them to activism and to challenging capitalism.

The Pew Opinion Poll (May 4 of this year), which came out after the Rasmussen poll, found that 43% of Americans under 30 years old describe “capitalism” as positive but the same poll found that those who described “socialism” as positive also equaled 43%.

Despite living under capitalism all of their lives today’s US youth are divided on which system is more positive — capitalism or Socialism. So if I can use a sports metaphor, I guess when it comes to US youth, capitalism has no home court advantage over socialism. Charles Derber, sociology professor at Boston College in an article on the poll summed up the results as “We are moving towards an America that is either Center-Left or actually majoritarian socialist”.

This younger generation is for a more democratic, peaceful and just future and about half are positively inclined toward the socialist alternative. With that in mind I say there has got to be a real possibility of building a large, influential YCL.

Some are doubtful that we can actually build a large YCL in this country today. Well, I say the YCL of all the youth organizations in this country has the most sensible and credible program and approach to winning socialism. So is it possible to build the YCL, in our country today? I say, “si se puede”, “yes we can”!

With principled politics, an activist style, a youthful organizational and political approach, a large YCL can be built. We certainly have to fight for it and that means the party has to take youth work seriously and give its best effort in every district, to helping the YCL grow in influence and size. It is the main way the party carries out its work among youth. The point we want to make at this conference is the fight for youth jobs is key to making this happen.

This is why we are here this weekend and holding a short school next week. We want to get things rolling. We have to take this show on the road and put it on the Internet. Whatever it takes we have to bring the message of the YCL to 10’s of thousands of youth.

Every former youth leader whose here today will tell you that there have been lulls, ups and downs in the past and our experience shows that if the Party and the YCL together put their shoulders to the wheel, great things can and will happen. This is why we are here.

In the battle against the right danger, I think the tide is turning.

I have a feeling that things are not going to be so good for the right in the next election like most of the pundits are saying.

From the stimulus package to health care, the US Supreme Court nominees, the progressive upsurge after the racist Arizona anti immigrant. “Remember May Day”… the passage of the Wall Street reform bill yesterday was a big setback for the right and a victory for Main Street.

Critical sections of voters are starting to trend more against the Republicans. Their numbers are much worse then the Democrats and Obama. The NAACP’s call for the Tea Party to denounce the racism in their ranks is creating a new crisis for them. Frankly if the Democrats play hard ball like the NACCP and real numbers are put in the streets by labor and other mass movements the progressive forces have got the issues to set back the Republican/ultra right attacks even with their millions in right wing and corporate campaign funds.

The Tea Party is a collection of extreme right elements many of then mired in anti labor, racist, homophobic and anti immigrant chauvinism. They hate the elected government. If there is a historic reference, there ideology is kin to the ideology that brought us the Third Reich. Defeating them is the paramount challenge before us today. I am confident that the people will meet that challenge.

In that spirit I want to make a proposal.

Last week the police officer that murdered Oscar Grant on the Bart Station in Oakland Cal. was given a slap on the wrists for his act of cold-blooded murder. We are appalled and angered by what the courts did and we agree with Oscar’s mother who cried out at the press conference. “My son was murdered, my son was murdered” and “we want justice”!!

We too want justice and that is what we are fighting for….

So, I propose that we dedicate this weekend’s conference to the memory of Oscar Grant and all the innocent youths whose precious lives were taken by this brutal, anti human system of capitalism and imperialism.

Let us begin…



    Jarvis Tyner is executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board.. He was a founding member of the Black Radical Congress and served on its national coordinating committee for five years.

    Tyner was born in the Mill Creek community of West Philadelphia in 1941 and graduated from West Philadelphia High School. He joined the Communist Party USA at the age of 20. After several years working in various industrial jobs in the Philadelphia area, where he was a member of the Amalgamated Lithographers and the Teamsters union, he moved to New York in 1967 to become the national chair of the DuBois Clubs of America, and later founding chair of the Young Workers Liberation League. He was the Communist Party USA candidate for vice president of the U.S. in 1972 and 1976, running with party leader Gus Hall.

    As a leader of the CPUSA Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appears on the media, campuses and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality and the socialist alternative. He currently resides in the Inwood section of Manhattan, N.Y., is married and the father of four adult children and one grandchild.


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