An assessment of the Atlanta branch in light of the Renewal Faction documents

The following document was written in preparation for a perspectives discussion meeting held by the Atlanta branch of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) on 10 December 2013. The document was then published in the ISO’s Pre-Convention Bulletin (PCB) #9 in January 2014. In the latter version, the ISO leadership apparently made the decision to remove the document’s opening paragraph, which calls for “replacing some or all of the organization’s current leaders.”

The version of the document published below restores this passage in full. Additionally, this version includes a few corrections and updates. Most notably, I have added links to several relevant documents published in the period since this piece was originally written. A passage that rehashes the Renewal Faction’s core arguments from “The organizational crisis and its political roots” has been omitted. I have also made a few minor adjustments to the document in order to avoid providing information that recognizably identifies former members and contacts of the ISO Atlanta branch. 

As a final note, let me conclude by stating that, over the course of the past few months, my views on the crisis within the ISO and the state of the group in general have evolved considerably from the one presented in the document below. As I summarized in my “Letter of Resignation from the ISO,” I have come to “question the viability of the ISO as a vehicle for revolutionary Marxist politics.”

–Ben S Continue reading

Atlanta’s Untold Fast Food Strike History, Part 2 of 2

The demise of the 1979 strike/boycott at Church’s Chicken

 
The following historical article is the second in a two-part series focusing on labor unrest at Church’s Fried Chicken stores in Atlanta during the 1970s. The first installment told the story of a 24-day strike and boycott that shut down the majority of Atlanta-area Church’s locations in 1972. This latter installment recounts two additional bouts of labor unrest at Atlanta Church’s stores that took place in 1977 and 1979. In addition, this piece also details a subsequent campaign launched by Church’s in the mid-1980s in an effort to rid itself of the then widespread reputation for racism and racial insensitivity that the company had acquired within the Black community.
–Ben S, Atlanta

Changes at Church’s

One of the most significant effects of the 1972 strike/boycott at Church’s Fried Chicken was the movement’s impact on racial dynamics within the company. Most notably, the strike compelled Church’s to accelerate its integration of management. In the years following 1972, the company began promoting increased numbers of Blacks to store manager positions. What’s more, in 1973, the company elected the first Black member to its board of directors. Alongside these developments, the company launched a minor public relations campaign aimed at rehabilitating its image in the Black community. In a 1973 advertisement published in the Atlanta Daily World, Church’s touted itself as a paragon of opportunity for aspiring, hard-working Blacks. As the ad put it, “Church’s Fried Chicken offers the little man the opportunity to learn the necessary skills in operating a fast food outlet.” In order to further bolster its image and cultivate Black support, the company began making minor donations to local Civil Rights groups, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation. It also moved to sponsor several little league teams in Black neighborhoods. [1] Continue reading

Letter of resignation from the ISO: Ben S (Atlanta)

This letter was first published on External Bulletin, the website of the ISO Renewal Faction.

To all my comrades both inside and outside the ISO:

This letter is intended to announce my resignation from the International Socialist Organization. This decision has been prompted by my experience in the months since I first publicly expressed my support for the ISO Renewal Faction late last year. To summarize in brief, as a result of my endorsement of the Faction, I’ve been effectively isolated and iced out of both the Atlanta branch and the national organization as a whole. This has made it all but impossible to continue my involvement within the group. Continue reading

Atlanta’s Untold Fast Food Strike History, Part 1 of 2

The 1972 strike/boycott at Church’s Chicken


The following historical article is the first in a two-part series focusing on labor unrest at Church’s Fried Chicken stores in Atlanta during the 1970s. This initial installment tells the story of a 24-day strike and boycott that shut down the majority of Atlanta-area Church’s locations in 1972. As I explain, this struggle took place within the context of a broader strike wave that swept Atlanta that same year. The second installment in this series will recount two additional bouts of labor unrest at Atlanta Church’s stores that took place in 1977 and 1979.

– Ben S, Atlanta

During the 1972 strike at Church's, Atlanta's Left-wing counterculture newspaper, The Great Speckled Bird, provided detailed coverage of the movement. This story (and accompanying STRIKE! Cartoon) was featured in The Bird's May 15, 1972 edition.

“Church’s Chicken Strikes Again!!,” The Great Speckled Bird, May 15, 1972.

Continue reading

Welcome to Red Atlanta

The bosses… told us that these Reds were “foreigners” and “strangers” and that the Communist program wasn’t acceptable to the workers in the South. I couldn’t see that at all. The leaders of the Communist Party and the Unemployment Council seemed people very much like the ones I’d always been used to. They were workers, and they talked our language. Their talk sure sounded better to me than the talk of… the President of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Co. who addressed us every once in a while.

Angelo Herndon, “You Cannot Kill the Working Class,” 1937

Welcome to Red Atlanta! This site seeks to provide a socialist analysis of local news and history of relevance to radicals, militants, agitators, and freedom fighters of all varieties. In so doing, this site aims to play a role in supporting and – to whatever degree possible – providing ideological assistance to any and all struggles waged by and for the ninety-nine percent.

Red Atlanta is maintained by Ben S, an Atlanta-based activist and radical.

DeKalb County sanitation workers march down Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta during the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. (Photograph by Ben S.)

DeKalb County sanitation workers march down Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta during the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. (Photograph by Ben S.)