The edited statement first appeared May 18, 2017, on workers.org.
We celebrate on May 19 the birthdays of two world-bending revolutionaries: Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X.
Born in 1890 in central Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was the Marxist-Leninist communist who forged and led a people’s movement and army that defeated the invading imperialist might, first of France and then the U.S. and ultimately liberated Vietnam from colonialism.
Born in 1925 in the U.S., Malcolm X was the African American leader who raised to global attention the concepts of Black nationalism, Black self-defense and the right of self-determination of Black peoples. Malcolm X also made a major contribution to the global movement for Pan-Africanism.
Neither met the other, yet their deeds and words intertwine; and together they continue to inspire us toward revolution.
At this moment, as the U.S. ruling class fans the deadly fires of racist hatred, Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh unite to give a profound lesson in building international solidarity with oppressed peoples and nations.
In 1924, a year before Malcolm X was born, Ho Chi Minh made a presentation at the Fifth Congress of the Communist International in Moscow during a session on the “National and colonial question.” He emphasized the importance of support for the Black liberation struggle in the U.S.
Ho Chi Minh stated: “It is well-known that the Black race is the most oppressed and the most exploited of the human family. It is well-known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the ‘New World’ had, as an immediate result, the rebirth of slavery. . . . What everyone does not perhaps know is that after 65 years of so-called emancipation, [Black people in the U.S.] still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings.” (workers.org/2015/05/19953/)
Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, put the Black liberation struggle in a worldwide context 40 years later, in 1964. He said: “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of [Black people] as simply a racial conflict of Black against white or as a purely American [U.S.] problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.” (Malcolm X Speaks)
Malcolm X acknowledged the centrality of the national liberation war led by Ho Chi Minh to that global rebellion, when he noted: “Viet Nam is the struggle of all Third World nations — the struggle against imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism.” (1972 interview with Yuri Kochiyama, tinyurl.com/k93cq2n)
The voices of both these revolutionaries ring out with the clarion call of solidarity as the path to a future of justice and liberation. They remind us that we of the multinational, multigendered, global working class have a common oppressor in imperialist capitalism.
We can resist its racism, its anti-woman and anti-LGBTQ bigotry, its anti-immigrant hatred.
We can — we must — rise up in resistance.