After collecting donations for months and raising funds, the Boston branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation was ready in the morning of February 24 to start its first Serve the People Day of Unity offer. Even before the doors were scheduled to open, enthusiastic members of the community entered the Black Market on Dudley Square. On arrival, attendees received a paper pocket spray, painted with the Black Panther logo and the PSL website, for ease of browsing through all free clothing, coats, toiletries, diapers, baby food, children's books, bags, blankets and more. Participants also received the PSL 10-point program from the 2016 elections, Liberation news articles about homelessness and the Black Panther party, and excerpts from the writings of Kevin Rashid Johnson. More than 250 members of the community were served by the end of the event.
The Day of Unity was not just a depoliticized charity event, but a celebration of Black History Month, the famous Black Panther Party survival programs & an opportunity to build relationships and political awareness with workers' communities in Boston. As PSL member Rachel Domond has said Liberation news:
"There are many organizations that use donation-based discs to collect coats and clothing and distribute them to the community …. Our goal was to emphasize the importance and significance of the Black Panther party – a Marxist party for black liberation – and their survival programs & # 39; s. We wanted to recognize how crucial these programs, such as the free breakfast for children and free ambulance programs, were for the communities in which the Panthers were a part and focused on serving … & # 39; Serve the People & # 39; although clearly an act of mutual assistance, was a community event in which we discussed with our neighbors why we should organize these types of events in the first place. & # 39;
PSL members Nino Brown and Joe Tache presented the history, politics and strategy of the Black Panther party, and why there is always a housing crisis in Boston. During Brown's presentation, several attendees shouted "All power for the people!" And after Tache described why the wages that employees receive are always less than the value they produce, one member in the audience said, "We make and create everything, but they" give us a minimum wage for our work because they make all the profit of what we create. "After the presentations, the participant Deondre Morton received a copy of the autobiography of Mumia Abu Jamal, We want freedom for correctly answering a trivia question. He told Liberation news, "I learned a lot about the Black Panthers … I heard about the figures, I had heard of their names before but I didn't really know how they were dealing with the fight. Especially about black people of the day and how it affected us affects today. & # 39;
Many of those present at the event were people who were homeless. Despite mayor Marty Walsh's great rhetoric about striving to be the first big city in the country to end chronic homelessness, "Boston saw the largest increase in homelessness in all major cities in the United States from 2017 to 2018. Maritza, a woman living in a homeless shelter in Boston, said Liberation news, "BBeing a homeless in a shelter is like being in jail … It's the worst thing that can happen to anyone. When 300 women only share a few bathrooms and you have to take your things with you everywhere … it is terrible. "
The Massachusetts Union of the Homeless also manned a table. After she had spoken with them, Maritza said: "Bring all people together, because together we become stronger, the union makes us strong."
Preparations: unity through action
The excitement for Unity Day was so great that eight different companies and community centers opened their doors to collect donations, including Massachusetts Jobs with Justice at Jamaica Plain, The City School, Next Step Soul Food Cafe and the Cape Verdean Adult Health Center in Dorchester, the Democracy Center in Cambridge, the South End Tech Center and Dudley Cafe in Roxbury. Building relationships with the drop-off locations and the community members who donated also served as a means to strengthen ties with the community. Organizers raised more than $ 2,000 in addition to in-kind donations, allowing them to purchase food, more toiletries, and diapers. The organizers had collected so many donations on the day of the event that they barely matched them within the U-haul they had to rent.
Together with members of the Mass Union of Homeless, the PSL distributed thousands of flyers in Dorchester, Roxbury and nearby homeless shelters that took place up to and including the day of the event. In addition to the organizers of PSL, more than 30 people have offered their time to ensure that Unity Day was a success. Volunteers served food, signed, helped them choose clothing and provided childcare.
Survival Programs & # 39; s awaiting revolution
The PSL believes that the only thing that will completely break through the chains of exploitation and oppression of the working class is a revolutionary process. So how do revolutionary politics relate to programs such as Serve the People: A Day of Unity? Although there are hundreds of non-profit organizations, charities, and government agencies that offer, depolarize and erase a wide range of social programs, they deliberately erase the roots of poverty and homelessness. The purpose of Serve the People: A Day of Unity was to provide material help to communities under the blame of capitalism and white supremacy, while at the same time raising awareness and building the community around the struggle against these oppressive systems. Referring to the purpose of the Black Panther Party's survival program, Huey P. Newton – co-founder of the Black Panther Party – said
"All of these programs meet the deep needs of the community, but they are not a solution to our problems. That is why we call them survival programs, meaning that you have to survive awaiting revolution We say that the survival program of the Black Panther Party is like the survival package of a sailor stranded on a raft, helping him to sustain himself until he can get out of that situation completely. So the survival programs are not answers or solutions, but they will help us to organize a community around a true analysis and understanding of their situation. When awareness and understanding are brought to a high level, the community grasps the time and releases itself from the shoes of their oppressors. & # 39;
As socialists, we know that people struggle to provide for their basic needs, because capitalist society is organized to benefit the minority: a handful of billionaires. Under socialism, society functions to serve the needs of people, not to fill the pockets of the elite. Organizing initiatives such as the Day of Unity reflects solidarity of the working class in action and helps to cultivate the deep relationships that are needed to build a multinational workers' movement powerful enough to overthrow the ruling class. When we provide and protect each other, we activate the strongest weapon we have: unity in the working class.