Lifetime Achievement Awardee Jarvis Tyner prepared remarks to the Better World Awards on December 11th, 2016

Comrades, friends, Sisters and brothers

Thank you all.

I want to thank the NY Friends of the People’s World for this award. It is a great honor for me. The People’s World has a long and proud history. It has been a legendary voice of the working class struggles for over 97 years.

Starting with the Daily Worker, the PW has been the voice of the Communist Party USA and the people’s movements. It remains a crusader against bigotry, fascism, for worker’s rights, the environment, for peace and Socialism.

I accept this award with great pride and I ask you to please continue to support the continuation of this great people’s weapon for justice.

I have some remarks on the recently concluded elections.

But first a few words about the passing of a great leader.


Remembering Fidel Castro

The first thing is to say a few word about the passing of Fidel Castro Ruz. Comrade Fidel occupies a special place in the hearts of we US Communist and millions of Americans who believe in self determination, peace and freedom for all peoples and nations.

The Cuban people, under his courageous leadership have made an enormous contribution to humanity. Cuba gave hope and confidence to oppressed and exploited every where; it has illuminated a path to Socialism and freedom that won the love and support of billions around the world.  People all over the world on every continent have benefited from the solidarity of the Cuban people.

Cuban blood was shed in the fight for African liberation. Cuban doctors are today saving lives on every continent.

The problem in Cuba is not Socialism. It is the criminal US blockade and embargo of Cuba.  It is the many attempts on Fidel’s life and acts of terror carried out by our CIA. The fifty years of attacks on Cuba is the problem. Socialism is the solution. The Cuban people are united, hard working people who are making great strides forward to a more prosperous socialist future.

The actions of Obama were a step forward. Donald Trump promised to roll back the easing of restrictions on Cuba. His election demands that we step up our fight to end the blockade and establish normal relations and trade with our Socialist neighbors.

History has absolved Comrade Fidel.  He will never be forgotten.

End the Blockade. End the embargo. Long live socialist Cuba.

Long live the great legacy of Fidel Castro!  History has absolved him.

My history

I joined the CP in 1961. The Party had semi-illegal status.  After all the amazing things the Party did in the 1930’s and ’40’s: unemployed councils, the anti-lynching work, the anti-fascist period to Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain, the election of Benjamin J. Davis and Pete Caccione to the NY City Council. The organization of industrial unions and their leadership in spearheading the grass roots campaign that led to the integrate professional Baseball.

When I came joined in 1961 the anti-communist act of that time was the McCarran Act.  The penalty was 10 years in jail and $10,000 fine for every day you didn’t register as a foreign agent. The bulls eye was the Party but the target was to intimidate and destroy all democratic and progressive organizations activities. It was aimed at destroying the Democratic rights of working people. It was organize to destroy the post war mass desire for world peace and to make the world safe for US imperialism, for the 1%.

The party fought for it’s legal right to exist. We endured and grew even under these harsh situation.  Big sections of the McCarran Act were declared unconstitutional.

In 1961 we were still living under the shadow of Joe McCarthy. The FBI followed us to meetings and harassed us on the job and where we lived and went to school.

This was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. My first Washington Demonstration was the march of thousands for peace against the planned blockade of Cuba.

1961 after 7 years Henry Winston African American party leader was given early released from Prison by Pres. J. F. Kennedy. Winston had developed a tumor in prison and was mistreated by the authorities and lost his sight. On release Soviet and US doctors where only able to save part of his sight.

Comrade Winston won his release from prison said the famous words, “They have robbed me of my sight, but not my vision.”

He was an heroic figure in our party.  He was my mentor. He was elected National Chair with Gus Hall (Gus did 8 years in prison also).  He was elected our General Secretary.

This working class, black and white team led our party back from isolation and unjust persecution to a larger (by US standards) organized legal Communist Party.  We were known as a Party that fought racism, for peaceful coexistence with the USSR, economic and political justice, for an end to war, racism, poverty, and exploitation and for BILL OF RIGHTS Socialism.

This hall is named after Henry Winston. He and Gus rebuilt our party to come out of the shadows and do great things. And we did. AYD — Madison Sq Garden. rally

I lived that whole period from illegality to legality, from a defensive to offensive position, from a shrinking party to a youthful active viable united PARTY, WITH A STRONG PARTY  YOUTH membership.

1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union and other Socialist states was big setback for our movement world wide but we were able to regroup, and we are still fighting, and we’re not goin away.

And like in the 60’s, today we need the Communist Party now more then ever. Especially after the election of Donald Trump. The challenges are very great. It is obvious that we need a renewed and determined struggle against racism, white supremacy, male supremacy, and homophobia. Sixty million people voted for him. This is a huge challenge.  We need to help expose the rise of neofascist movements. Trump has given them new life.

We, as part of the broad labor and peoples alliances, have to push hard for $15.00 hour and union rights. We have to be part of those demanding a real pro working class concrete program to create jobs and end wage stagnation. We need to push for an end to US war for oil and our governments role in military conflict in the Ukraine and else where. You cannot defeat Trump and the alt right with generalities. Labor and people’s forces need concrete demands to counter Trump’s demagogy, his hypocrisy about jobs and trade agreements.  The democratic forces have to take the initiative.

There is hope. There are a lot of jokes about moving to Canada these days. Please don’t move. Stay and resist. Fight for democracy and against terrible right danger. We need all people of good will to be a part of the great fight back that is already happening;

We stand with the 10’s of thousands who took to the streets within hours after the elections.

We have a “president-elect” who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. His campaign was racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-working class. He consciously reached out to the alt right, white nationalist, KKK, neofascist war hawks and gave them a new life in our country.

The Republicans did everything to repress the votes of Blacks, Latinos, youth and other progressive voters, especially in the state where Democrats should have won. I believe he stole thousands of votes to win the Electoral College vote. Imagine areas where the vote was larger then the population. Hillary’s campaign made some big mistakes. They obviously didn’t see the votes that Trump was going after. They didn’t have a 50 state campaign. And she needed to come up with reasonable democratic alternatives to Trump’s demagoguing “working class issues.”

I am glad that there is a recount in the 3 states. Jill Stein raised the money for it. She says her vote DID not contributed to Trump’s victory. The fact is that she campaigned saying that there was no difference between Trump and Clinton. That position was just not true.  It helped confuse some voters that might have made the difference.

It suggested that things could not get any worse under a Trump presidency, that Clinton was actually more dangerous then Trump. Stein said that. That showed a disregard for the well being of working people and racially oppressed who will face a sharp decline in their living standards and rights under Trump.

Just look at the rise in acts of racist violence on the streets. Over 800 since the election – Muslim women especially. Some of the graffiti is a swastika and Trump’s name.

These reactions grow directly out of his campaign. He owes the American people an apology and to openly denounce his fascist supporters.

Just look at Trump’s cabinet appointments. It is a bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are going to try to roll back every gain that working class, women, and people of color, environmentalist, LGBTQ folks have made in the last fifty years. And a recount is not the same as an investigation of voter suppression.

Trump had the support of the FBI and as recently revealed the Putin government intervened in the election to help Trump. Putin is no Communist and his role needs to be thoroughly investigated. The trump election stinks to high heaven and needs to be fully investigated and overturned.

Elizabeth Warren says the personnel you pick reflect your politics. They say Trump does not have any ideology. Picking a labor Secretary who is anti-labor? That’s not ideological?

The same with education Betsy Devos – a billionaire who is opposed to public schools.

Head of Exxon Mobile for Secretary of State? Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development, who says poverty is more a matter of personal choice then anything else?

Racist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, who us a KNOWN racist rejected by congress in the past and needs to be rejected now.

He wants to appoint a Scalia type supreme court justice. We are in trouble.

We need an offensive against poverty and wage stagnation and a real effort to create good paying union jobs through a massive public works and the enforcement of civil rights/ job discrimination laws. We need affordable housing and the elimination of homelessness. We need quality public schools for all and a Medicaid-for-all single-payer system to strengthen The Affordable Care Act, rather than destroying it.

He has no ideology? Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist?

Head of health and human services Tom Price, another billionaire who is going to take away the health care of 22 million people by dismantling the Affordable Care Act?

Steve Mnuchin for Treasury?  Sec. Goldman Sachs?  This is Wall St. in the raw. The people who created the 2008 collapse are in the front row in the Trump administration. Mnuchin, he donated $425,000 to Trump campaign, by the way.

This is how he’s going to bring America back?

This is more of the same, but a lot worse. Trump is a con man and hustler who thinks he can con anybody. But he is in for a rude awakening.

This isn’t making America great. This is destroying America. This isn’t cleaning out the swamp. This deepening the swamp.

Sisters and brothers, we don’t need to wait and see what Trump will do.  It is clear that he is preparing a major assault on democracy. He will rule like he ran for office. He will continue to divide and rule. He will use racism and sexism. He will try to smash unions and role back civil rights. He is STILL pushing the billion dollar WALL, AND THE ROUNDUP of millions of immigrants, and the ban of Muslims.

I am an optimist

Those who say, “Lets give Trump a chance.” “Let’s wait and see.”

We don’t need to wait and see.

Now that I’m semi-retired, I have more time to think about my history these days. So I specialize in sharing one memory after another with people I know. To all those who have been subjected to my long reminisces, I sincerely apologize. It comes with age.

If Lydia will allow, I’d like to further explain by paraphrasing her wonderful retirement speech. She said, “One memory leads to another, little things people say to me trigger mental images; images of crises averted, those moments of calm when all is well and those moments not so well when all is hell.”

This certainly such a moment in the country.

I am a optimist.

The people show they are ready to act. Post-election demonstrations all over the country, 10’s of thousands,  and the historic struggle in Standing rock. Wow! The issues are environmental racism. They are fighting to saving this planet.

Kudos go out to the vets who came in the hundreds.

And the Fight for 15 MASS actions and civil disobedience, and I think the massive Save the Plant movement.

The country is on the move, especially the youth.

I say Trump needs to be out of the presidency in 4 years, and maybe less.

If the people are united and in motion, all things are possible.

Thank you.

I have a special point. Someone very close to me is in the house. Please give a warm welcome to my brother. Mccoy Tyner, today is his birthday.


Jarvis Tyner remarks to the Better World Awards as Lifetime Achievement Awardee on December 11th, 2016