Why commemorate these two days and is there a connection between these institutions? Materially, there is a strong connection between the two days, but due to white supremacy, that connection is obscured at best, and completely denied at worst. This is so because May Day, the day created to commemorate the sacrifice of workers in Chicago in 1886 who lost their lives protesting in support of the eight hour work day, has not escaped the clutches of white supremacy in that the dominant narrative of May Day is that of European workers toiling against the bosses in factories. This is so because that narrative has been controlled for a long time by white left - primarily Stalinist, Trotskyist, and Maoist formations. These groups, more influenced by white supremacy than they will ever probably have the capacity to acknowledge, paint a picture of the worker's struggle that is centered around the White worker. In fact, the labor movement as a whole, of which I earn my living within, is still infected with this White worker focus. This is strange since the most dynamic things happening in the labor world are happening in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Its in these areas where hundreds of thousands of workers are facing tanks and bullets standing up against the exploitation of the natural resources industries of which the economies of the capitalist countries are based upon. Its these areas where the most creative forms of worker struggles are being defined e.g. worker's cooperatives, mass strikes, and mass struggle. All of this is happening while White workers in the U.S. are being told their primary struggle should be "regaining the middle class." A middle class that by its very definition is dependent upon the continued exploitation of the majority of the planet. This is a corrupt analysis that promotes the bourgeois concept that the masses of White workers are really fighting for a piece of the capitalist pie at the expense of the masses of people on the planet. This is clearly a message that must be changed.
I celebrate May Day and do work around it because I believe - and I have plenty of company - that we must snatch the narrative of May Day from white supremacy and create the proper narrative that May Day is the day to commemorate the organization of all workers against the capitalist system. Its a day that should highlight the struggles of peoples of color, the folks who are doing the lion's share of the work within the labor movement today, including within the U.S. For example, in this country, the low wage workers, primarily people of color, in fast food, WalMart, etc., are doing the most cutting edge work within the labor movement here. The proper narrative of May Day must also promote the true interests of White workers who are starting to feel the crunch of a declining capitalist economy. These workers must be informed that their interests are the same as their Black, Brown, and Yellow comrades and that they must stop seeing themselves as in allegiance with the ruling capitalist classes. These folks must become aware that their salvation comes in eradicating white supremacy, not in hiding behind it.
There is where the true connection between May Day and African Liberation Day is made. African Liberation Day (ALD) seeks to inform the African masses worldwide that our freedom and liberation is tied to the freedom and liberation of the African continent. Created as Africa Freedom Day on April 15th, 1958, the day was changed to African Liberation Day in 1963 and the day changed to May 25th to reflect the international day of recognition for the objective of Pan-Africanism which we define as one unified socialist Africa. The message from ALD is that we cannot achieve freedom in the U.S. or anywhere else until Africa is free because capitalism is based on keeping Africa in a state of poverty and disorganization so that the capitalist classes can continue to exploit Africa's mass resources as cheaply as possible (to maximize profits). There will be no freedom for Africans as long as Africa is subordinated and oppressed because the only way the imperialists can protect their subjugation of Africa is by making sure the African masses are firmly held in check. In fact, Pan-Africanists argue that the reason we are oppressed in capitalist societies is to insure we are controlled in order to enable the capitalists to continue to have free reign in exploiting Africa. This is why Africans are oppressed in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. Not because Europeans are "anti-Black." The anti-Blackness is simply a justification for the continued domination of Africa. Its just the same old Manifest Destiny argument that we don't know how to "properly" control Africa's immense wealth, so we need the European capitalist to show us how. After 500+ years we are still waiting because they can never show us anything except how to remain subservient to them and their interests. Instead, we should be fighting for Africa's liberation from those snakes. And, in the process, we will be uniting with other colonized and oppressed people doing the same e.g. the Indigenous people's of the Western hemisphere. The people of the Philippines. The Palestinian people. The Irish Republican struggle. And, the masses of white workers who have properly identified their interests as being in league with the majority of people on the planet.
So, the true connection/purpose of May Day and African Liberation Day should be to promote the message that the masses of workers must fight to overcome/throw capitalist exploitation and that the masses of Africans must organize for the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism. These two occurrences will in the words of Kwame Nkrumah advance the worldwide socialist movement leading to paving the way for worldwide communism, the highest expression of human existence yet to be achieved. And for those who are quick to react to words they don't understand, just focus on the phrase "yet to be achieved" before you ignorantly respond with an anti-communist rant when you clearly have idea what communism is outside of what NBC and CIA networks told you it was.
So, like every year, I look forward to helping the local A-APRP to help organize the May Day rally being held in Portland, Oregon on Sunday, May 1st. The theme this year is "Stand Up! Resist!" The rally will take place at 1pm at Shemansky Park in Portland. I also equally and enthusiastically look forward to traveling with my A-APRP family to Oakland next month to help support our African Liberation Day program down there on May 28th at East Side Alliance at noon. The A-APRP will be hosting ALD in cities in Africa, Europe, Canada, and throughout the U.S. Our international theme, which will be used at all A-APRP organized ALDs, will be "Women on the Frontlines Stand Up! Youth on the Frontlines! Stand Up! There are also other co-sponsored commemorations taking place throughout the world. Get in where you fit in. For me, May is pretty much my favorite month of the year.