The following message was from a study group of prisoners on Texas Death Row at the Ellis I Unit, Huntsville, Texas, on the occasion of the 85th birthday celebration of the late chairperson of Workers World Party, Sam Marcy, Oct. 5, 1996. Both Emerson Rudd and Ponchai Wilkerson were legally lynched in 2001 and 2000, respectively.
We, the Panthers United for Revolutionary Education (PURE), are proud and excited to be a part of this special day, recognizing and celebrating the life and works of Comrade Sam Marcy.
Comrade Sam has certainly been invaluable to our growth, development and directions. Although we hail Comrade Malcolm X as our spiritual progenitor and do Comrade Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party the honor of being our greatest inspiration, Comrade Sam Marcy has been invaluable to our understanding of Marxism.
Being that PURE is an exclusively Black organization, it is rather easy to see how Comrades Malcolm and Huey fit in. But how does Comrade Sam Marcy, who is white, fit in?
We met Comrade Sam on a trail, actually. And not altogether by happenstance, we might add. But to explain this good fortune, we must back up a mile or so before our encounter.
Those of you who know the history of Comrade Malcolm know that he started out with a religious group called the Nation of Islam, which he eventually outgrew. The group was quite vocal about the inhumane treatment of Black folks in America, but it was not at all active in protecting the people from police brutality or racist attacks from common thugs.
Comrade Malcolm said that if the government was incapable or unwilling to protect Black people, then Black people should take up arms and defend themselves. To Comrade Malcolm’s disappointment, the Nation of Islam never denounced the capitalist political-economic system. It only denounced the economic injustice within the system, as if they were separable.
Comrade Malcolm said that a duck cannot lay a chicken’s egg. It can only lay a duck’s egg, because the system isn’t designed to lay a chicken’s egg. Meaning that capitalism cannot produce anything but economic injustice!
In this capacity, Comrade Malcolm, then, was a philosopher. And PURE subscribes to the philosophy of Malcolm X.
But Comrade Karl Marx tells us that “The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it.” This calls for a practitioner, a revolutionist. Someone to make philosophy instrumental through practical application.
This is what Comrade Huey did. He developed a self-defense program: The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense! And he armed the people. He integrated Malcolm’s philosophy with revolutionary practice. He was, for Black people, our V.I. Lenin.
More importantly, Comrade Huey broke with the capitalist political-economic system and subscribed to socialism. And like a Southern Baptist minister, that young brother was preaching fire and brimstone. Only he wasn’t talking no Jesus. He was talking Mao, Fanon, Malcolm and Marx. And we were shouting “Amen” and “hallelujah” to something that we could hold on to — an AK-47!
Comrade Huey led us to Marx. But we soon learned that Brother Karl Marx wasn’t easily understood, given all of the special words and phrases used to describe his philosophy. Needless to mention, we were left frustrated for many days. But still determined to learn.
We were wrestling with dialectical materialism and surplus value when a brother directed us to a certain news publication that illuminated some of the points that we were having trouble grasping. That newspaper was the Workers World. And the writer was Sam Marcy.=
In a language that we could understand and with an immediate relevance to our present realities, Comrade Sam helped us, in one way or another, to understand some of Marx’s most important works, Economic and Philosophic manuscripts: “The Poverty of Philosophy”; “The Communist Manifesto”; “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”; “Wages, Price and Profit”; “Capital,” etc.
In explaining Marx to us, Comrade Sam was clarifying, in our opinion, the developing side of our mentor and brother Malcolm X. He explained Comrade Huey, our greatest inspiration! And for this, PURE shall forever be appreciative to our brother, friend and comrade Sam Marcy.
Power to the people!
Muenda, Prime Minister;
Ponchai Wilkerson, Secretary of Defense; and
Emerson Rudd, Chairman