Black and white photo of activists holding a banner that reads "Self-Determination for the Afro-American Nation! League of Revolutionary Struggle (ML)"

The Intersections of Black and Latina/o/x Radical Traditions

“Unity of our struggles means terror/ in the enemy’s eyes/ Unity of just struggles, means/ death to imperialism,” wrote Amiri Baraka in October of 1979.[i] The poem, “Countries Want Independence, Nations Want Liberation, and the People, the People Want Revolution,” was written by the Black Arts Movement leader to commemorate the merging of the African American based political organization the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), formerly known as the Congress of African People (CAP)[ii], with the League of Revolutionary Struggle (LRS). The League formed in 1978 after the Chinese American group I Wor Kuen (IWK)[iii] and the primarily Chicana/o organization the August 29th Movement (ATM)[iv] merged to create a new multiracial Communist Party that existed until 1990.

Baraka, in his poem, highlighted the need for cross-racial and transnational solidarity across social movements by connecting “Spanish speaking avenidas” with “oppressed Chinatowns and Japantowns” in order to defeat imperialism.[v] The League relied on Vladimir Lenin’s definition of imperialism as it related to those in the United States, or the idea of oppressed nations within a nation. Imperialism is an advanced stage of capitalism that represents the power one country exerts over people in its own country and across the world via force or coercion in realms such as economics, politics, culture, and education.[vi] Defeating imperialism and capitalism for people in the League represented the struggle for equal rights for different communities that faced daily oppression in their lives. Those in the League like Baraka spent their lives mobilizing to create a new world free from structures of oppression and discrimination.[vii]

League members created the new multiracial Communist Party during the New Communist Movement because they believed the primarily white Communist Party USA (CPUSA) since the 1960s failed communities of color.[viii] Instead, as former Asian American League member Fred Ho ascertains, the new organization was made of at least 80% minorities including in positions of leadership.[ix] Its membership roll also included Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, white people, and Japanese Americans.

In my broader research I argue that members of the League allow for us to examine what communism and Marxism as ideologies meant to communities of color throughout the 20th and 21st century on a personal level. For example, Reina Diaz—a member of the organization and a leader in the Watsonville Canning strike which I mention below—was described in a League pamphlet as a retired farmworker, cannery worker, and longtime Chicana community activist. In the pamphlet, titled “Hasta La Victoria: Introducing the League of Revolutionary Struggle to Chicanos,” she detailed what Marxism meant for her. Diaz describes that Marxism gave her a different way of looking at the conditions in her community that caused Chicana/os to suffer. She wrote that as a Chicana she believed men and women in the Chicana/o movement needed to struggle together to build a new society together.[x] Marxism and the Chicana/o movement predisposed her to seeing the reality of what her life had been under the “capitalist state.” The mother of seven and grandmother of 22 shows that in the mid-1970s she was introduced to Marxism. “It explained what capitalism is, and why the profit motive determines everything. It also gave me a way to fight,” Diaz wrote. The daughter of farmworkers, she worked in the fields for 25 years and later worked another 12 years as a cannery worker. Diaz embodies what Marxism meant to her and others in the League personally and how they applied it to their daily organizing.

In my broader research I cover leftist movements since the late 1960s to examine how former League members are still mobilizing today. This is a later period than books about the Latina/o/x and Black Left focus on such as those written by Justin Akers Chacón, Enrique Buelna, Dayo Gore, Minkah Makalani, Erik McDuffie, and Margaret Stevens.[xi] I argue this tells us that people such as Baraka, Ho, and Diaz were a part of genealogies of radicalism, or political generations, that existed before them and continued after their participation in said movements. Scholars tend to focus on activists who interacted with the CPUSA institution and the Popular Front era or periods prior to 1956. By pushing the temporal scope of analysis to the present it allows us to see how people such as Diaz were inspired by the cultural nationalist movements of the 1960s around ethnic pride and self-determination to understand why they shifted to a Marxist organizing approach despite the global Cold War raging on. They theorized an ideology centered on anti-imperialism, anti-racism, anti-capitalism, and anti-sexism that created opportunities for collaboration and ally ship with those beyond their respective communities.

Such a temporal extension allows scholars to further examine the Black radical tradition as laid out by Cedric Robinson and lays the framework for what I call the Latina/o/x radical tradition.[xii] The Black radical tradition, and the Latina/o/x version I am posing, are defined by, as Manning Marable writes, “sharp opposition to institutional racism, class inequality, and women’s oppression.” I outline the Latina/o/x radical tradition using three main components: a trans-hemispheric approach, a gendered lens, and a cross-racial and cross-ethnic framework that looks at race and radicalism relationally. These genealogies of radical change over time based on the conditions surrounding the rise of different generations of activists are also tied by the struggle against oppression at the hands of imperialism and capitalism.[xiii]

By using a long approach to grassroots communism I believe we can see how Marxism has been an important avenue for creating cross-racial solidarities and serves as one node in a broader history of coalition building. Below I provide a brief sketch outlining how the League represents one example of the broader Latina/o/x radical tradition to discuss how it is influenced by, and intersects with, the Black radical tradition including what these previous generations of activists teach us.[xiv] The League as a collective gives us insight into social movement building across racial and ethnic lines that resonate with present day movements and what it means for non-Black individuals to provide support to such struggles. I briefly cover how the League brought together the Black radical tradition and the Latino/a/x radical tradition during the 1980s when they supported Reverend Jesse Jackson’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination with a cannery workers strike in Watsonville, California that they were involved in led by Latina women.[xv]

Scholars of Latina/o/x history can take a page from social movements of the 20th and 21st centuries and cross racial and ethnic boundaries of analysis, as well as academic disciplines, to examine the relationships between African Americans and Latina/o/x’s. As Natalia Molina lays out, we get a new understanding of history by writing about race relationally.[xvi] This can be extended to the study of radicalism as well. Comparative race studies projects have examined the similarities and differences in Brown, Black, and other race-based social movements and their responses to racism, class inequality, and women’s oppression. These interlocking oppressions are not detacheded from the structures of capitalism and imperialism that correlate to the rise of the United States empire in Latin America. This is why any theorization of a Latina/o/x radical tradition needs to be international, transnational, and diasporic. This framework allows for us to see how present day activists are a part of generations of struggle. Their ideas and their praxes, much like that of the League and folks like Baraka and Diaz, are a part of generations of activists that challenge power and inequality.

I believe that by taking a relational race and radicalism approach to events such as the 1985-1987 Watsonville Canning Company strike we can examine how Latina/o/x people mobilized for better rights and working conditions and how they were supported by individuals in the Black radical tradition.[xvii] Over 1,000 workers, many of them Mexicana or Chicana, at the frozen food processing plant started a wildcat strike—a non-union sanctioned strike— on September 9, 1985 that lasted three years to fight for better job security, raises to their wages, and health benefits.[xviii] The strike was eventually successful and United Farm Worker leader César Chávez claimed it set a precedent for the whole industry since the workers not only took on their employer but also the Teamsters Union.[xix] The League provided leadership to many of the key workers at the site by sending organizers such as Reina Diaz and her son Manuel Diaz while publicizing the struggle in their publications.

Their struggle was also popularized by Reverend Jesse Jackson, an African American Democratic Presidential candidate at the time, who sought to create a labor-liberal coalition. Jackson tied the Black freedom struggle to the situation facing the Watsonville workers as a struggle against systematic inequalities. At a rally on June 29th, 1986, in support of the largely Mexicana and Chicana workers, Jackson exclaimed that Watsonville was the “struggle today what Selma was to the Civil Rights Movement twenty years ago.” He claimed that Watsonville was to economic justice what Selma, Alabama represented to political justice 20 years earlier. Jackson connected labor to politics by stating the hands that pick broccoli should be able to pick politicians as well.[xx] Within the speech he eluded to something the League and Jackson fought for, new coalitions bringing people together to redirect the course of the nation and Latina/o political power.[xxi] In this discussion of labor and electoral politics it is clear that Jackson and the League felt that in order to defeat the global capitalist system—and by extension a U.S. imperialist system that was causing multiple forms of oppressions to the Watsonville workers—new coalitions needed to be forged.[xxii]

Amiri Baraka wrote on the pages of the League’s newspaper and journal about the Jackson campaign and the Black Liberation Movement’s ties to other racial and ethnic groups. A Marxist-Leninist party, in his and the League’s opinion—in other words a party for the working class—needed to organize all the classes in U.S. society to fight for democracy and socialism. He wrote that an anti-imperialist united front with the Black liberation movement could expose members of the working class to join the movement, stating, “ours is a tradition of ongoing struggle for democracy and self-determination,” a key tying factor of the Black radical tradition and I argue also a lineage of radicalism found in Latina/o/x communities. Baraka wrote, “the enemies of black self-determination are the enemies of the whole working class,” and that the “profiteers of racism are the exploiters of all workers, and the affluent torturers of the black nation” as well as the Chicana/o nation and other oppressed peoples. Specifically Black liberation, and also the liberation of other oppressed peoples, could only become a reality by overthrowing the “racist imperialist class.”[xxiii] The League acknowledged the communities they represented faced triple oppression that shaped people’s lives based on class, race, and gender.

In Baraka’s writings and the Watsonville example themes around imperialism and the need for a trans-hemispheric, relational race approach to studying grassroots radicalism arise. The Americas are linked by stories of imperialism and transnational interactions of power emanating from the U.S. that has been met by resistance from individuals and organizations. A trans-hemispheric approach, as argued by Vicki Ruiz via the ideas of Cuban leader Jose Martí, is beneficial for examining Latina/o/x people, their ideas, and I’d expand to include their radical traditions.[xxiv] A trans-hemispheric approach is critical, but it is not possible to understand the Latina/o/x radical tradition without placing it in relation to African American history and centering Blackness. Paul Ortiz outlines a concept of emancipatory internationalism to argue that Latina/os along with African Americans have espoused the ideas and practice of anti-imperialism as a way of life since the 19th century.[xxv] Ortiz argues this concept was born from centuries of struggle against slavery, colonialism and oppression in the Americas.[xxvi] This created an understanding of shared struggles that provided fertile context for ally ship between Latina/o/x and Black activists such as Jackson and the Watsonville workers. Ideas of racial capitalism and emancipation exists in both African American and Latina/o/x communities over a long period of time.[xxvii]

A Latina/o/x radical tradition also requires a gendered lens. Carole Boyce Davies argues Black women became sisters outside of the Black radical tradition including Communist, Pan-Africanist, and Trinidadian born Claudia Jones. People like Jones modified modes of analysis such as Marxism-Leninism to critique capitalist-imperialist expansion and what this meant on the political, cultural, and economic aspects of “Third World peoples.”[xxviii] Her theorization of triple exploitation transformed Marxist theories as they applied to people of color, specifically Black women.[xxix] Other types of analysis have also been theorized and modified by a long genealogy of radical women throughout the twentieth century such as: Emma Tenayuca, Olga Talamante, Isabel Rodríguez, Magdalena Mora, Juana Colón, Luisa Capetillo, Iris Morales, Sylvia Cuarón, and women in the League such as Reina Diaz to name a few.[xxx] These women and countless others applied and amended the ideals of anarchism, socialism, and communism to meet their experiences as Chicanas, Latinas, and/or Latin Americans. League member Diaz at the grassroots level blended the cultural nationalism of the 1960s with Marxism to mobilize her community. She and others in the League transformed and went beyond Karl Marx to meet their daily needs.

Manning Marable writes African Americans, and I’d include Latina/o/x peoples, seek to remake democratic institutions by “dismantling institutional racism and other forms of systematic oppression” by participating in organizations such as the League. My broader research focuses on Marxists, but anarchists, socialists, and others who follow indigenous epistemologies and women of color feminisms must be included in this framework in order to understand the relationships between activists.[xxxi] The League sought to change the structures causing oppression in communities of color by using a broad agenda that involved mass protest and electoral politics but also theoretical advancements as intellectuals active in applying theory to praxis. Social movements produce new questions and ideas about people’s lived experiences that are a part of genealogies of radicalism found in Black and Brown communities.[xxxii] Activists in 2020 like those from the League are a part of, and build on, the Black and Latina/o/x radical traditions.

[i] I would like to thank the staff of the Unity Archive Project which is digitizing many of the sources related to the League as well as conducting oral history interviews. This will be invaluable for those interested in the many histories of the League. Amiri Baraka, “Countries Want Independence, Nations Want Liberation, and the People, the People Want Revolution! A Poem for the Unity of RCL (M-L-M) and LRS (M-L)” in League of Revolutionary Struggle, Forward: Journal of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, No. 3 (January 1980), 8. Last accessed August 7, 2020.

[ii] Michael Simanga, a former member of CAP, RCL, and the League recently wrote a book on Baraka and both his and the organizations ideological development. Komozi Woodard and Ashley Farmer have also written extensively about what Baraka and women in CAP meant to both the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. RCL formed out of CAP which was an organization of the Civil Rights-Black Power movements. RCL merging with the League in 1979 signified a further push to form a multinational communist vanguard party. Former League member Joe Navarro indicates that the RCL joining LRS brought credibility due to Baraka being a major figure. Michael Simanga, Amiri Baraka and the Congress of African People: History and Memory (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); Komozi Woodard, A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999); Ashley D. Farmer, Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017); Joe Navarro, interview by Eddie Bonilla, July 10, 2017.

[iii] I Wor Kuen was formed in 1969 by activists that emerged from the struggles in the Chinatowns of New York and San Francisco that were crucial to the evolution of Asian American radicalism. The group played a prominent role in key battles of the Asian American movement such as the fight to defend San Francisco’s International Hotel. They also organized against unfair housing practices and around Tuberculosis testing in their communities. For more on IWK see: Eveline Chao, “How Asian-American Radicals Brought Yellow Power to Chinatown” Gothamist October, 2016. Last accessed July 7, 2020. Daryl Joji Maeda, Rethinking the Asian American Movement (New York: Routledge, 2012); William Wei, The Asian American Movement (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993).

[iv] A Latina/o organization established in May 1974, the ATM drew members from collectives in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and New Mexico. They had roots in the Brown Berets, Los Siete de la Raza, and the Labor Committee of La Raza Unida Party. For more on the ATM see: Laura Pulido, Black, Brown, Yellow and Left: Radical Activism in Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006); Eddie Bonilla, “ ‘Fan the Flames:’ The Theories and Activism of Chicana/o Communists Between 1968-1990,” (PhD Diss., Michigan State University, 2019).

[v] Some scholarship that begins to look at these cross-racial coalitions include: Lauren Araiza, To March for Others: The Black Freedom Struggle and the United Farmworkers (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014); Max Krochmal, Blue Texas: The Making of a Multiracial Democratic Coalition in the Civil Rights Era (Durham: University of North Carolina Press, 2016); Jeffrey Ogbonna Green Ogbar, Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005); Pulido, Black Brown Yellow & Left; Victor M. Rodriguez, “Boricuas, African Americans, and Chicanos in the ‘Far West’: Notes on Puerto Rican Pro-Independence Movements in California, 1960s-1980s” in, ed. Rodolfo D. Torres and George Katsiaficas, Latino Social Movements: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives (New York London: Routledge, 1999).

[vi] The imperial project in regards to the United States, Latin America, and Latina/o/x peoples includes the plundering of raw resources throughout the Americas and the Caribbean which Lenin discusses as key facets of imperialism. It also includes the exploitation of cheap labor and the creation of new markets for the U.S. state. Scholars such as Gilbert González also discuss how a culture of empire was created in order to legitimize American dominance over Mexicans and Mexican immigrants. Raúl A. Fernandez and José F. Ocampo argue that imperialism is precisely the theory and historical happening that is necessary for understanding revolution in Latin America and I extend to include Latino/a/x peoples in the United States. See: V.I. Lenin, Imperialism The Highest Stage of Capitalism (New York: International Publishers, 1939); Gilbert G. González, Culture of Empire: American Writers, Mexico, and Mexican Immigrants, 1880-1930 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004); Raúl A. Fernandez and José F. Ocampo, “The Latin American Revolution: A Theory of Imperialism, Not Dependence” Latin American Perspectives 1, No. 1, (January 1974): 30-61.

[vii] This included organizing for the defense of Ethnic Studies and affirmative action, in labor struggles amongst cannery and auto workers, and in Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Presidential campaigns in the 1980s in order to change society. These mobilizations are the focus of a book manuscript I am currently working on tentatively titled: Homegrown Communists in the Age of Reagan: Multi-Racial Politics and Socialist Revolution. For more on the activities of the League see: Peter Shapiro, Song of the Stubborn One Thousand: The Watsonville Canning Strike, 1985-1987 (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2016); Eric Mann, Taking on General Motors: A Case Study of the Campaign to Keep GM Van Nuys Open (Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles Institute of Industrial Relations Publications, 1987).

[viii] Max Elbaum argues Marxist leftist organizations from the 1970s to the 1990s comprise the New Communist movement. He analyzes organizations that searched for a Third-World Marxist style of organizing, including Stalinism, Maoism, and Trotskyism. Third-World Marxism eventually became the driving force amongst many who had participated in the New Left. The League as Elbaum argues was the most important organization of the New Communist movement. Max Elbaum, Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che (London: Verso Press, 2002).

[ix] Fred Ho with Carolyn Antonio, Diane Fujino, & Steve Yip, eds., Legacy to Liberation: Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian Pacific America (San Francisco: Big Red Media and AK Press, 2000), 11.

[x] League of Revolutionary Struggle, “Hasta La Victoria: Introducing the League of Revolutionary Struggle to Chicanos,” Pamphlet Box 23 Folder 10 Carlos Muñoz papers, 1945-2015 (bulk 1969-1993), CS ARC 2016/1, Ethnic Studies Library University of California, Berkeley.

[xi] The reason that scholars focus on periods such as the 1930s versus later moments is largely because more communists of color were affiliated with the CPUSA during this time. In large part more members can be a correlation to greater significance, but I believe a smaller organization such as the League that had around 3,000 members at its height is beneficial for studying communism at the personal level. It was also an autonomous organization whereas debates in communist historiography tend to focus on how the CPUSA was perhaps under the influence of the Soviet Union. This is only a small sample of recent books on the Black and Latina/o/x Left: Enrique Buelna, Chicano Communists and the Struggle for Social Justice (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2019); Justin Akers Chacón, Radicals in the Barrio: Magonistas, Socialists, Wobblies, and Communists in the Mexican American Working Class (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2018); Dayo Gore, Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (New York: New York University Press, 2011); Minkah Makalani, In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011); Margaret Stevens, Red International and Black Caribbean: Communists in New York City, Mexico, and the West Indies, 1919-1939 (London: Pluto Press, 2017).

[xii] I use Latina/o/x because a theorization across three centuries means labels have changed overtime. There is also the difficulty of using an umbrella term related to Latin Americans in Latin America and those that (im)migrate to the United States as identities change based on place and citizenship status for some. For these reasons—and reasons of space and word count in written pieces—I use Latina/o/x to refer to those from Latin America and those in the U.S. that self-define as Latina/o/x. I use Latina/o when referring to particular historical moments where the “x” was not in use yet in attempts to minimize confusion. Whereas Latino and Latina were some of the earlier words used, in the recent past people have begun to use the gender neutral Latinx. I believe the “x” is necessary as an indication of the present moment and perhaps looking forward to what future activists use as their own self-identification. There are also movements for using Latine amongst those in Latin America who disagree with the word Latinx as a form of linguistic imperialism emanating from the U.S. My hope is not to exclude the ways people self-identify, or the nuances of identity, but rather I argue we need a framework that links radicalism across borders, nation-states, and geographic boundaries historically and in the present to help us connect the stories and ideas of activists and intellectuals across the Americas and the Caribbean. Another name option could be the Brown radical tradition but this would ignore the contributions of Afro-Latinx and indigenous individuals. I thank Alfredo Carlos for these conversations/debates over the years.

[xiii] Scholars have studied ally ship between political groups and/or highlight how some race-based organizations included some members from outside the racial groups most represented in groups. For example, Johanna Fernández writes about how African Americans were members of the predominantly Latina/o Young Lords Organization. Others have written about Asian Americans such as Richard Aoki being closely affiliated to the Black Panther Party. Johana Fernández, The Young Lords: A Radical History (Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2020); Diane C. Fujino, Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012).

[xiv] Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

[xv] I must note here that there is also a radical tradition found in Asian American communities especially when considering the activism of the League. Asian Americans, primarily women, made up key positions of leadership in the League and also provided the backbone of the organization. Many also played a key role in Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns that helped to bring him to places such as Watsonville. Due to space and the purpose of this submission on African American-Latinx relationships I had to keep this history out. This is not meant to diminish the importance of the Asian American radical tradition in the League. Diane Fujino and Robyn Rodriguez elude that a similar theorization of an Asian American radical tradition needs to be posited. Diane C. Fujino and Robyn M. Rodriguez, “The Legibility of Asian American Activism Studies,” Ameriasia Journal 45, No. 2 (2019), 111-136, 126.

[xvi] See: Natalia Molina, How Race is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014); Natalia Molina, “Examining Chicana/o History through a Relational Lens,” Pacific Historical Review, 82, No. 4 (November 2013), 520-541.

[xvii] Manning Marable includes the Jesse Jackson presidential campaigns of 1984 and 1988 along with Amiri Baraka in his generational approach to the Black radical tradition. Specifically he argues they were a part of the generation of post-World War II activists that came to political maturity during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement. Manning Marable, “Marxism, Memory, and the Black Radical Tradition,” Souls 13, No.1 (2011), 1-16, 15.

[xviii] The strike was largely sustained by Mexicana immigrants and Chicanas who made up the bulk of the workforce. As former League member Peter Shapiro writes in his work, the League was perhaps the most important organization besides the Teamsters for helping the workers. They were involved in Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns and Shapiro writes how they were able to get Jackson to Watsonville to provide support for the workers. Members of the League and leaders from the Watsonville strike such as Gloria Betancourt also served as Jackson delegates to the Democratic National Convention in 1988. For a more day to day analysis of the strike and how the League was active in it see: Peter Shapiro, “The Necessity of Organization: The League of Revolutionary Struggle and the Watsonville Canning Strike,” Viewpoint Magazine August 2018. Last accessed October 7, 2020. Shapiro, Song of the Stubborn One Thousand. For more on the longer history of cannery workers and their struggles for better working conditions and wages specifically in California see: Vicki L. Ruiz, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987).

[xix] League members also played a role in making a film about the cannery workers and their struggle. Eddie Wong. ¡Sí, Se Puede! Cannery Workers Organizing Project, 1987.

[xx] Northern California Watsonville Strike Support Committee Packet August 1986, 1. Box 1 Folder Frank Bardecke/ Watsonville Papers/ Larc. MS. 0093 Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA.

[xxi] Shapiro, Song of the Stubborn One Thousand, 147.

[xxii] Shapiro, Song of the Stubborn One Thousand, 146.

[xxiii] Amiri Baraka, “¡¡@*#!! Reagan!!” in League of Revolutionary Struggle, Forward: Journal of Socialist Thought, Number 4, (January 1985), 1-11, 9-10.

[xxiv] Vicki Ruiz uses Marti’s vision of “Nuéstra America” which argued independent nations in the Americas are in constant dialogue with their powerful neighbor in the North thus creating a linkage between Latin America and the United States. Vicki L. Ruiz, “Nuéstra America: Latino History as United States History,” The Journal of American History 93, No. 3 (December 2006), 655-672.

[xxv] Ortiz’s research stresses the longer histories in the Americas of people living under imperial powers beyond the United States by looking at places such as Haiti and the Caribbean more broadly, with the U.S., Mexico, and the rest of the Americas. Emancipatory internationalism is grounded in social movements that are both local and international in scope. This is what allows us to see how United States slavery and segregation occurred domestically while the imperial project was underway in the Americas. Paul Ortiz, An African American and Latinx History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 2018).

[xxvi] Ortiz, An African American and Latinx History of the United States, 6.

[xxvii] Ortiz also outlines this framework in an edited volume in honor of Cedric Robinson’s theories of the Black radical tradition. Paul Ortiz, “Anti-Imperialism as a Way of Life: Emancipatory Internationalism and the Black Radical Tradition in the Americas,” in Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin, eds., Futures of Black Radicalism (London: Verso Press, 2017) 133-147.

[xxviii] For more on Claudia Jones and her contributions to Marxist-Leninist theory such as triple exploitation, or triple oppression see: Carole Boyce Davies, “Sisters Outside: Tracing the Caribbean/Black Radical Intellectual Tradition,” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 13, No. 1 (March 2009), 217-229; Carole Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007); McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom.

[xxix] Jones is important to consider when we think about the Movement 4 Black Lives, or the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM), since it is grounded in the Black feminist tradition. As scholar-activist Barbara Ransby writes the intersectional theory applied by the founders of BLM is grounded in analysis of interlocking systems of oppressions that harkens back to Jones’ theories of the triple exploitation of Black women. Barbara Ransby, Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century (2018), 14.

[xxx] This is only a partial list of recent scholarship focusing on women anarchists, socialists, and communists. See: Buelna, Chicano Communists and the Struggle for Social Justice; Marisela R. Chavez, “‘We Lived and Breathed and Worked the Movement’: The Contradictions and Rewards of Chicana/Mexicana Activism in el Centro de Acción Social Autónomo-Hermandad General de Trabajadores (CASA-HGT), Los Angeles, 1975-1978,” In Vicki L. Ruiz, ed., Las Obreras: Chicana Politics of Work and Family (Los Angeles: UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Publications, 2000), 83-106; Fernández, The Young Lords; Alan Eladio Gómez, The Revolutionary Imaginations of Greater Mexico: Chicana/o Radicalism, Solidarity Politics, and Latin American Social Movements (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016); Gabriela Gonzalez, Redeeming La Raza: Transborder Modernity, Race, Respectability, and Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018); Sarah McNamara, “Borderland Unionism: Latina Activism in Ybor City and Tampa, Florida, 1935-1937,” Journal of American Ethnic History 38, No. 4: 10-32; Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo, “Imagining Resistance: Organizing the Puerto Rican Southern Agriculture Strike of 1905,” Caribbean Studies 43. No. 2 (July-December 2015), 33-81; Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo, “Mateo and Juana: Racial Silencing, Epistemic Violence, and Counterarchives in Puerto Rican Labor History,” International Labor and Working-Class History 96 (Fall 2019), 103-121; Vicki L. Ruiz, “Una Mujer Sin Fronteras: Luisa Moreno and Latina Labor Activism,” Pacific Historical Review 73, No. 1 (2004), 1-20; Olga Talamante, “De Campesina a Internacionalista: A Journey of Encuentros y Desencuentros,” In Maylei Blackwell, Maria Cotera, and Dionne Espinoza, eds., Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018): 290- 298; Zaragosa Vargas, “Tejana Radical: Emma Tenayuca and the San Antonio Labor Movement during the Great Depression,” Pacific Historical Review 66, No. 4 (1997), 553-580.

[xxxi] I focus on Marxism because as Marable writes it has been used as an effective method of social analysis for explaining interactions between race, class, gender and power amongst Black communities. I argue this also extends to Latina/o/x communities as well. Marable, “Marxism, Memory, and the Black Radical Tradition,” 1.

[xxxii] Robin D.G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002).


About the author

Eddie Bonilla is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Latinx Studies and History at the University of Pittsburgh.


Image: League of Revolutionary Struggle Forward: Journal of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought Number 3, (January 1980), v. Last accessed August 7, 2020.


  1. Eddie Bonilla is doing very important research to give credit to and send an appreciation of the groundbreaking work of the League of Revolutionary Struggle to today’s movement — where individualism and anti-communism is playing a very destructive role. He is also, for a Chicanx audience and publication, showing the great multi-national work of the LRS in which ATM, of which I was a member, was so influential in the Labor and Chicano movements. This is very important scholarship.
    Eric Mann

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