Malcolm X, Ho Chi Minh, ¡presente!

This edited statement was first published May 18, 2017, on 

May 19 is also the birthday of long-time revolutionary Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese survivor of the U.S. concentration camps created during World War II and one of the people with Malcolm X when he was assassinated. In addition, May 19 is the birthday of the late, award-winning, radical playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry, whose works include “A Raisin in the Sun” and “To be Young, Gifted and Black.”

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.” (

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)

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-LGBTQ2S+ bigotry, its anti-immigrant hatred.

We can — we must — rise up in resistance.

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