CP and YCL chalk up new members in Manhattan

BY: Cameron Orr| August 31, 2022
CP and YCL chalk up new members in Manhattan


A new Friday tradition has been developing for members of the CPUSA and YCL in NYC. The last lunch hour of the workweek has lately been devoted to tabling outside the party’s building on 23rd Street in Manhattan. Displaying their signs and literature under the cooling shade of a fortuitously planted tree, comrades have been utilizing a new tactic to jostle passersby out of their personal headspace and into the present—sidewalk chalk!

“Look up!” the colorful lettering calls out. “Fight for Liberation! … A Better World is Possible!” Or, as one approaches from the opposite direction: “The rent is too damn high! … You look like you need a raise!”

It’s working pretty well. On one especially active day, 16 people signed up. Some even paid dues and got their party card right there and then! The conversations and comments from pedestrians have been fruitful and sometimes entertaining. “You’re still here?” some say, looking at the building. Others reminisce, talking about Gus Hall’s presidential campaigns. One woman who lives directly next door to the CPUSA office building told a story of being hit on by Earl Browder as a younger woman. She didn’t say whether this was before or after he had been expelled from the party. Many younger people, though, who are already interested in socialism and communism, are excited to learn about the CPUSA for the first time. Uber drivers and food and retail workers are signing up.

Some FedEx employees, hired as contractors at subminimum wages for $90-100 a day with no benefits, have also stopped by to talk. The contrast between their working conditions and those of the unionized UPS workers walking by is stark. FedEx claims their workload can be completed in just a couple hours. In reality, it’s more like 10 hours, pushing impossibly overloaded carts. Most of them are young workers of color. Without sick days, what might have been temporary sprains have become permanent injuries. As contract workers, they’re denied workers’ comp.

One of these enthusiastically took a collection of pamphlets—Marxism in the era of Amazon and Uber, Black Lives Matter, Bill of Rights Socialism, Act now to stop the assault on voting rights!, Immigration myths v. facts, and Queer liberation’s Communist Party roots—and deposited them in the van for coworkers to read.

As other CPUSA and YCL tabling events across the city are also gathering names and numbers, a new challenge emerges: how to call all these people!

Images: Brooklyn CPUSA/YCL.


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