“Be resolute, fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win victory.” – Mao Zedong, The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains
We originally planned to launch with a post on this topic, but the Signalfire blog, one of the best Maoist blogs in the USA, beat us to it with their excellent comment. We quote from it and include the videos we made for each of the figures born on this day.
Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist. He was born in 1890 to an educated family. His father was a Confucian scholar and a magistrate under the King who had resigned in protest of the colonial domination of the country. Ho attended a school in the city of Hue where he learned under a French curriculum, a school where General Giap (commander of Vietnamese Liberation Army) later attended. He later taught briefly at another school.
He ended up working and travelling the world as a cook in a streamliner ship. Most of Ho’s life in the years of 1912 and 1918 is unknown. He had lived in Harlem and attended the meetings of Marcus Garvey’s organization and speeches according to himself. He was certainly influenced by Garvey and the struggle of the New Afrikan people in the Western hemisphere, particularly in the United States. He had even penned an article in 1924 on the KKK and its oppression of New Afrikan people he writes
It is well known that the Black race is the most oppressed and the most exploited of the human family. It is well known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery, which was for centuries a scourge for the Negroes and a bitter disgrace for mankind. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching… The victory of the Federal Government had just freed the Negroes and made them citizens.
The agriculture of the South – deprived of its Black labor, was short of hands. Former landlords were exposed to ruin. The Klansmen proclaimed the principle of the supremacy of the white race. Anti-Negro was their only policy. The agrarian and slaveholding bourgeoisie saw in the Klan a useful agent, almost a savior. They gave it all the help in their power.
At this point of writing the article, Ho Chi Minh has already joined the international communist movement after attempts to secure the rights of self-determination through the Allies Versaille Peace Treaty at the end of World War II. Ho is a prominent figure within the Communist movement arguing against the national chauvinism of the European Communist parties in not giving any serious attention to the colonies of their home countries.
Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)
Malik El-Shabazz, or as we popularly know him, Malcolm X was a black nationalist figure throughout the civil rights era of struggle. Malcolm and other black nationalist figures are ingrained by the earlier movement of the UNIA and the syncretic groupings which had preached black self-determination and opposed participation within the white supremacist structure.
Such refusal saw Elijah Muhammad put to jail for refusing the draft. Malcolm himself spoke his mind too truthfully when he told the draft staff that he couldn’t wait to get his hands on guns and kill crackers. When Malcolm X became a minister of Nation of Islam he was immediately a target of investigation of the state.
Malcolm already in the middle of 1950 was also speaking out in support or understanding of the anti-colonial struggles, even Vietnam (which then was fighting French colonialism). Malcolm was making transitions throughout his life which brought him from a black nationalist and conservative worldview he had inherited from the Nation of Islam to a more internationalist world view. He began drawing lessons from the anti-colonial struggles which can be seen in his speech on the Ballot or the Bullet.
[…]As a figure he helped move thousands of the most advanced black fighters and youth in the liberation struggle towards a black nationalism with a militant internationalist perspective. How Malcolm shaped the discourse of a new emerging militancy among all liberation fighters in the country can be seen readily afterwards in the formations created which combined revolutionary communist politics with black nationalist aspirations – Black Panther Party, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Congress of Afrikan People which upheld Malcolm X and adopted a Marxist-Leninist Mao Zedong Thought inspired politics. Even radically transforming the thought of young white revolutionaries in Students for a Democratic Society which began moving closer to Maoism and organizations like I Wor Kuen (Chinese-American Communist Organization), Young Lords Party (Puerto Rican Nationalist Organization influenced and developed into a MLM organization).
Yuri Kochiyama is a figure less well known then the last two, and she is still alive today at the age of 91. We recommend for those unfamiliar with her life to read the interview conducted by the Revolutionary Worker , the former paper of the Revolutionary Communist Party-USA. Mrs. Kochiyama spent a good portion of her young adult life in a concentration camp of Japanese people in the US, 70% were citizens.
Yuri moved with her husband to Harlem in 1960 and was already active in human rights work. She met Malcolm X and began working with him around human rights projects, was a member of his Organization for Afro-American Unity, and was present when Malcolm was murdered. Yuri was also a participant in taking over the statue of liberty with Puerto Rican independence activists. She was pivotal in the movements to free Mumia and end nuclear proliferation. She has been a consistent friend of the people. She has prominently defended the revolutions in both the Philippines, Peru, and elsewhere and is keeping it strong approaching her 90s.
Despite the very small active base of Japanese-Americans involved in struggle for liberation, Yuri is an important figure and worker for liberation precisely because while jettisoned by the persecution and internment of her own family and community, she actively took up the struggle of the world’s majority.