Twelve days before the 45th anniversary of the Jan. 30, 1968, Tet Offensive, Workers World Party held its final forum at the 17th Street Solidarity Center in Manhattan. Speakers discussed the decades-long revolution that liberated Vietnam first from French and then from U.S. imperialism and the struggle this war engendered in the U.S.
Naomi Cohen, a former editor of Workers World newspaper and a Youth Against War & Fascism activist in the 1960s and 1970s, spoke on the contributions of Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh to the Marxist anti-imperialist movements around the world and the key role of the Vietnam Workers Party in leading the historic fight that defeated the U.S. war machine. She included an appreciation of the contributions of Vietnamese peace negotiator Madame Nguyen Thi Binh and the now 102-year-old Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap.
Former WW editor Joyce Chediac presented a slideshow of photos from the Vietnamese side of the war. These featured the role of women guerrillas as well as the magnificent effort of the entire Vietnamese people to drive out the French and Yankee occupiers.
Meeting chair LeiLani Dowell, a current managing editor of WW, explained how the 1968 Tet Offensive turned the war around, especially the U.S. population’s attitude.
Featured guest speaker Andy Stapp was a draft-card burner in 1966 who later decided to enter the Army to organize against the war. Stapp was chairperson and central spokesperson for the American Servicemen’s Union from 1968 to 1975. His talk brought that revolutionary period alive with graphic descriptions of GI resistance — organized and individual anti-war and anti-racist actions — that helped to break the chain of command and assist the liberation struggle. Four GI and veteran leaders of that struggle were in the audience — John Lewis, Terry Klug, Rene Imperato and Larry Holmes — along with many civilian supporters.
Current WW managing editor John Catalinotto’s powerpoint presentation outlined a history of YAWF’s cutting-edge anti-war actions and the conscious efforts of a working-class revolutionary party to organize resistance within the military.