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Finally Got the News: The Story of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers

A Film Club Frame for Tonight’s Meeting at 7 PM

Eric Mann

A film is shot frame by frame and the Larger Frame is the political perspective and political conclusions that one person, one group of people, offers to interpret that experience. Tonight the Next Frame will be presented by Professor Robin D.G. Kelley followed by the film. And then the framing will continue as we’re joined by several great respondents:

Professor Cynthia Hamilton, Strategy Center founder and author of Apartheid in An American City: The Case of South Central Los Angeles

Lian Hurst Mann, veteran of the August 29th Movement, League of Revolutionary Struggle, and UAW Local 645 where she worked as an assembly line worker

Brigette Amaya, lead organizer of the Strategy Center’s Taking Action Social Justice Clubs in L.A. high schools

Akunna Uka, Strategy and Soul Film and Book Club membership organizer to get you more involved

Followed by you! and others who will continue the conversation. We will all be on video and Channing Martinez will call on as many of our members as possible. Please plan to participate for the full 2 hours and in future films, 2 ½ hours. And please consider becoming a sustainer of the Film Club by hitting the link below.

Finally Got the News!

By taking the decision to discipline the strikers you have made the decision to do battle with me and therefore to do battle with the entire Black community in this city, this state, this country, and the world of which I am a part. Black people in the world are united in a common struggle which had it beginning in the exploitation of non-white people on a world wide scale. To quote from W.E.B. DuBois, “The emancipation of man is the emancipation of labor and the emancipation of labor is the freeing of that basic majority of workers who are yellow, brown, and black.” You have made the decision to do battle and that is the only decision you will make. WE shall decide the arena and the time.  You will also be held completely responsible for the grave consequences arriving from your racist actions.

General G. Baker, Chrysler worker, UAW members, leader of Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and League of Revolutionary Black Workers, upon being fired for his participation in wildcat strike against plantation abuses in the auto factories

In late 1960s and early 1970s, U.S. cities were burning, the U.S. was burning Vietnamese children, the Black masses were on the rise and the United Auto Workers International Leadership, aka labor bureaucracy, was in bed with the auto companies—from where they have never left.) In Detroit, at the time the fifth largest U.S. city and the most Black city, and, the center of the U.S. auto industry, arose the Inner City Voice newspaper, the militant Black groups of autoworkers lead by the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement—DRUM, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. As with SNCC, the Black Panthers and so many other Black groups, it arose almost out of the blue as in revolutionary times there is great innovation as old institutions are replaced by new ones.

The film Finally Got the News, produced by the League, is a stirring visual explosion of Black auto workers rising up against the racist city run by Ford and General Motors, the racist UAW leadership (“UAW means “you aint’ white”) the Detroit police, and many racist white workers. Under those circumstances it was a miracle they existed, grew, and for a few years shaped the debate inside the Black movement and the U.S. labor movement. Contrary to white chauvinist Marxists, liberals, and most white people who see “labor” as white and “community” or “poor people” as Black, this film roots the League of Revolutionary Workers in the terror of Black bondage as an enslaved working class building the wealth of the U.S. white settler state— as white workers along with white lawyers, white women, white police, white Democrats, white Republicans, white southern plantation owners and white northern imperialists not just benefitted, but literally became a parasitic class and caste that continues to this day.

“Finally got the news about how your dues are being used” is a brilliant construct by DRUM telling Black workers, Arab workers, and anti-racist white workers that their union dues were being used to keep Henry Ford’s auto plants (short for plantations) running at breakneck speed—sending Black labor to an early grave.”

The film describes in vivid details in Chrysler and Ford auto factories capture the brute brutality of the assembly line—where I worked for 10 years at Ford Milpitas, GM Southgate, and GM Van Nuys (UAW Locals 560, 215, and  645) but,  but no, at nothing at the level of the brutality of the Detroit factories. But also the power of Black workers at the height of the Black Power movement that we need again today. There is a wonderful companion book, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, by Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin, whose title is from a Black blues song written by an auto worker, telling Henry Ford, “I don’t mind working but I do mind dying.”

Today, as the Strategy Center tries to bring Black and Third World revolutionary history to shape and orient today’s organizing, too often the great achievements of SNCC, CORE, the Newark Community Union Project, DRUM, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the Black Panther Party are cartoons, caricatures, and often objects of the most disrespectful and dismissive criticisms—by people who could not cut it with them for a day let alone a week or month or lifetime. This counter-revolutionary worldview is not just a product of the non-profits or the cult of individualism but the broader ideological counter-revolution in which we live. The Strategy Center urges our members and organizers to “Study history, interpret history, and make history!” Just a few weeks ago Black Lives Matter, Students Deserve, Inner City Struggle, and the Strategy Center, made history in Los Angeles by convincing the Los Angeles School Board to cut the Los Angeles School Police Department budget by $25 million and 35%.

In watching Finally Got the News you will see the amazing leadership of Black industrial workers, Black auto workers, challenging the company, the UAW International, the Detroit Police, and the Detroit Power Structure and building an amazing movement inside the auto plants that you can only see to believe. This film celebrates the lives, of DRUM and The League, but also the Black industrial working class that has been closed down, pushed out, and is a shadow of its former self in the midst of the latest version of the U.S. Genocide against the Black Nation. Its core ideological framework was revolutionary Black Nationalism, Marxism-Leninism, anti-imperialism and the leadership of the Black united front and the entire anti-imperialist united front by the Black working class. We use these principles and premises to help guide our work today. So should you.

Please register for the Strategy and Soul Revolutionary Organizers Film and Book Club. Please become a sustainer of the club and the work of the Strategy Center by pushing this link!

See you tonight at 7,

Eric Mann