WISCONSIN -- Jarvis Tyner, executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA, made appearances in Wisconsin Mar. 2 and 3 to lend a hand in the fight for justice.
He began his tour by taking to the airwaves on WORT-FM community radio in Madison. The station was in the middle of a fund drive, so Tyner rolled up his sleeves and implored the listeners to make pledges to support a people's media. By the end of the interview the station had exceeded it's fundraising goal for the hour. Tyner had fielded questions from an inquiring public on everything from achieving peace in the Middle East to what the path to socialism will look like in the U.S.
During the pledge drive, the daughter of a veteran of the Spanish Civil War called to pledge her support and Tyner paused to reflect on the role the world communist movement played in defending the Spanish Republic in the first fight against fascism in Europe.
The following day, Tyner spoke to the Unemployed Workers Council of Madison and praised them for their "heroic contribution" to the nation in the Wisconsin Uprising. He also laid out the stark statistics of the global capitalist crisis and pointed out that in the U.S., the number of people living on less than $2 a day has increased by 400,000 since 1996.
Tyner praised the Occupy movement for changing the debate from the anti-people proposals of the ultra-right to the issues of the 99 percent vs. the one percent, and reminded everyone, "class unity trumps racism."
The Council concluded the meeting by presenting Mr. Tyner with a copy of the book, "Cut from Plain Cloth, The 2011 Wisconsin Workers Protests."
That evening, Tyner traveled to the People's Bookstore Cooperative in Milwaukee to speak on the topic, "Those who believe in freedom will not rest." He traced the historical development of capitalist exploitation, slavery, and racism. He also took time to reflect on the centenary of legendary American communist leader Henry Winston.
Those in attendance were moved by the tragic story of how Winston's health, neglected by federal authorities while he was imprisoned under Smith Act provisions later deemed unconstitutional, left him blind. Tyner inspired the crowd when he told them that when Winston was released from prison, "he came out fighting," and vigorously pursued his dedication to the cause of a society free from exploitation.
Tyner also gave the group something to smile about when he said the current capitalist crisis reminded him of a joke about a man falling from the top of a skyscraper, when he passes an open window and an occupant asks if he is ok, the soon-to-be-victim replies, "so far so good."
After his address had concluded, Tyner lingered and was peppered by questions from curious attendees wanting to learn more. An avid reader, Tyner paused to buy a few books before closing out the evening.
Tyner definitely left the crowd fired up, and one attendee said it was an evening she "would never ever forget."
Back in 1960, two African-Americans who would make history joined the CPUSA. One was W.E.B. DuBois, the other a young activist named Jarvis Tyner, who by 1972 would be running on a national ticket as the Party's candidate for vice-President. Dr. DuBois passed away in 1963. For Jarvis Tyner, the fight continues to this day.