history of i wor kuen

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  • 7/31/2019 History of I Wor Kuen


  • 7/31/2019 History of I Wor Kuen


  • 7/31/2019 History of I Wor Kuen


    In the absence of a genuine communist party, organizations like IWK played a leading role

    in reconstructing a revolutionary movement in the U.S. They were the first steps in breaking

    the chains of revisionism which had bound the working class movement.

    1969-late 1971

    IWK first formed as a revolutionary collective in New York City in late 1969. During that

    same year, the Red Guard Party in San Francisco also formed. Later, during the summer of

    1971, IWK became a national organization as a product of the merger of these two groups.

    IWK and the Red Guards played a vanguard role in the Asian national movements during

    the years between 1969 and 1971. Both organizations recognized that only revolution could

    solve the contradictions in capitalist society. They set out to build a genuine revolutionary

    movement in this country, to boldly challenge the oppressing forces, and to show that the

    everyday oppression and injustices that the masses face come from the system of imperialism.

    The IWK collective in N.Y. was formed by Asian-American revolutionaries from diverse

    backgrounds, including students, workers and working class youth. During its first year and a

    half, IWK waged a number of mass campaigns against poor living conditions in the

    community as well as struggles against harassment and repression of the masses by the state.

    The organization also conducted a number of serve the people community programs, and

    conducted broad political agitation and educational work among the masses. IWK published

    Getting Together in Chinese and English, and used it to educate and organize, and to put

    forward the organizations revolutionary views.

    IWK took up problems such as the horrible health care facilities in Chinatown as a way of

    organizing the masses in the community to take up collective political struggle against those

    conditions. In March 1970, IWK launched an extensive campaign of door-to-door TB testing

    in Chinatown. The organization realized that Chinatown had the highest TB rate in the

    country because of the extremely overcrowded, decaying living conditions caused by

    capitalism and bad health care services. In New York Chinatown, there were no hospital

    facilities, TB clinics or hospital staff who spoke Chinese. The door-to-door campaign helped

    arouse the community to fight for better services and to join with Puerto Ricans, Blacks and

    working class whites in the Lower East Side community of New York to fight for the new

    Gouverneur Hospital, and to force the city government to provide a TB X-ray and testing


    The struggle around Gouverneur Hospital continues to be a focal point of health struggles

    to the present day. In 1972, IWK helped wage a mass struggle and held several important

  • 7/31/2019 History of I Wor Kuen


    demonstrations resulting in the hiring of more Chinese-speaking workers at the new

    Gouverneur Hospital.

    Simultaneous to the health campaign, IWK initiated Chinatowns first draft counseling

    service. Many young Asians were being drafted to fight against the Indochinese people. In

    Chinatown, many young men did not want to go, but they had no organization to fight for

    them and no way to find out about possible draft exemptions. IWK took the service right into

    the streets of Chinatown to seek out youth facing the draft and convince them to resist the

    draft. It was an important part of revolutionary work among the youth sector.

    Another basic serve the people program was the childcare school program, which was a

    way of organizing Chinese working mothers and taking up their concerns for their childrens

    education. Besides trying to deal with the critical lack of childcare services, the program was

    important because it was conducted bilingually, upholding the equality of languages and the

    importance of teaching Chinese to the children. It was important in developing progressive

    educational materials which mothers supported. Many progressive community women

    despised and worried about the education their children received in the Chinese after-school

    programs which had long been monopolized by the KMT reactionaries.

    The same attitude of serving the people, of promoting revolution, and of waging mass

    struggle was the basis for the active and often leading role that IWK played in many

    community struggles. In early 1970, IWK played a major role in the We Wont Move

    campaign in New York Chinatown, in which residents and community organizations united to

    defend housing which the Bell Telephone Co. wanted to tear down to build a telephoneswitching station. IWK helped to physically move many Chinese families some recently

    arrived immigrants into abandoned apartments on the block, to strengthen the tenants

    forces and show the seriousness of the struggle. The block of housing still stands today

    because of this mass resistance.

    In late 1970, IWK waged a militant struggle against the governments attempts to close

    down small Chinese grocery stores selling Chinese produce and roasted and preserved meats.

    The government branded these traditional Chinese foods as violating health codes. IWK

    was approached by Chinese store owners to help fight this government attack because IWK had become known as an organization that stood on the side of the masses. Through taking

    direct action and confronting the government inspectors right inside the stores, the states

    attempt to wipe out small Chinese-owned grocery stores was halted. The government health

    ordinances on Chinese produce were changed as a result of this successful struggle.

    IWK also joined with many youths to directly confront the Chinatown reactionaries in the

    Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), demanding access of city youth to the

  • 7/31/2019 History of I Wor Kuen


    CCBA gym facilities. The CCBA reactionaries used the money from the pockets of

    community people to build their offices and the gym, but didnt even allow the young people

    to play in it after it was built. Demonstrations were held in protest. These were the first

    demonstrations ever to publicly challenge the CCBA in New York Chinatown.

    IWK was also the first organization since the early 1950s to openly declare its support

    within the Chinese community for the Peoples Republic of China. For twenty years no one

    had openly campaigned in support of socialist China. The reactionaries had brutally

    persecuted and even murdered progressives who had supported China. IWK showed films

    from China which drew thousands of people. IWK worked with a broad range of forces and

    individuals to organize October 1st mass programs, annually celebrating the founding of the

    Peoples Republic of China. IWK played a leading role in organizing demonstrations at the

    United Nations to fight for Chinas rightful seat in the U.N. and for the ousting of the illegal

    Taiwan KMT clique from the U.N.

    IWKs bold stand infuriated the KMT fascist reactionaries and anti-communists. They tried

    to intimidate the masses by firebombing IWKs storefront several times, slandering IWK in

    their Chinese language newspapers and physically assaulting IWK members and street

    vendors selling Getting Together . The FBI and police kept IWK programs under surveillance

    and frequently tried to frighten the masses by posting special FBI notices against communists

    and revolutionaries.

    The reactionaries attempts to separate IWK from the masses and stop the organizations

    work were not successful. More and more people came out in support of the programs andmass campaigns led by IWK. Because of IWKs consistent stands in the interests of the

    masses, the organization gained widespread respect and support in the community. Thousands

    of people from the Chinese community attended IWK sponsored or initiated programs.

    Getting Together was an important part of the organizations work. The newspaper was

    used in a mass way to get the views of IWK out in a broad way Getting Together was sold

    openly in the streets, an act which itself challenged the reactionaries. From its very beginning,

    Getting Together carried extensive coverage on the struggles of Asians in the U.S. There were

    many articles exposing the exploitation and oppression of the Asian nationalities. Getting Together was the first revolutionary newspaper regularly published in the contemporary Asian

    national movement.

    At the same time, the newspaper wrote about the conditions and struggles of other

    oppressed peoples in the U.S. The coverage of international events and developments in

    China were also an important part of the newspaper. Overall, the newspaper played an

    important role in propagating revolutionary ideas among the masses of people.

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    The Red Guard Party

    The Red Guard Party started doing revolutionary work in San Francisco Chinatown in the

    Spring of 1969. It was formed primarily by Asian-American youth who had been active in

    fighting against police harassment in Chinatown, in various community struggles against

    national oppression and in the San Francisco State College Third World student strike of 1968.

    The Red Guards opened a storefront office in the community. They began to conduct serve

    the people p