You can change the world: young people today

Today’s younger generation is playing a tremendous role in advancing the struggle for peace, democratic rights; economies and social justice. The opinions of U.S. youth are trending to the left. In the face of crisis ridden capitalism many US youth are also drawn to examine the socialist alternative.

On July 17-18, in the city of Chicago, the Communist Party and the Young Communist League will hold a two day conference followed by a four day school on young people today. It’s a chance to discuss and examine the main characteristics of today’s young generation, and what economic-social- political have influenced them most. What’s new and emerging? What adjustments does the party have to make in organizing among young people? Why do young people need their own organization?

This conference/school follows on the heels of the very successful convention of the CPUSA, where many young people participated, sharing their experiences, helping to craft party policy and to build the YCL.

Youth played an extraordinary role in the 2008 elections. The vast majority supported change over the rightwing dominated status quo. The Obama campaign/movement ignited a new spirit of youth activism and brought record numbers of youth to the polls. The desire for change and the spirit of activism among youth continues today with the worsening conditions of life brought on by the economic crisis.

According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee’s recent report, 16 -24 year olds are facing the highest unemployment rate (19.6%) for that age group since the government began tracking the data in 1947. With the drastic cuts in education and the effects of the economic crisis, millions of U.S. youth have little prospect of securing an education, a decent job and therefore a stable future.

The struggle for change continues. The fight for jobs is particularly crucial.  A new movement is being organized by some key forces in the labor movement, religious and civil rights organizations. They are demanding jobs and especially, jobs for youth. A prominent national labor leader recently called for the building of a united “youth crusade for jobs.”

Such a movement will help counter the poverty draft and all the attempts to militarize young people. It will also help to counter the criminalization of youth and the effort of the right wing to spread the poison of racist and anti-immigrant hysteria. They are out to divide youth and divert them from a united, multi-racial struggle against the real causes of the crisis.

A jobs movement will help to bring to light the hypocrisy, the racist, anti working class policies of the tea party movement and the extreme right. 

The sprouts of a new mass youth movement are starting to show. Young workers and students are fighting the cut backs and organizing for the government and Wall Street to do something about the mass unemployment they face. They are looking for ways to end joblessness and hopelessness. They want unity with labor and civil rights forces to build a new economy – especially a massive public works based on green jobs. Expanding democracy – from ending the war and ending poverty and the high homicide rate in inner cities to winning marriage equality (the right to marry the person you love) to student grants and lower tuition to guaranteeing quality public education for all – are on the agenda for today’s youth.

The slogan, “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” is becoming a rallying cry that is activating a lot of working people, including teenagers, young men and young women. The momentum is building towards a mass jobs march in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 2, initiated by the NAACP and SEIU Local 1199. The AFL-CIO labor federation and the UAW have now endorsed the march.

The banks and the financial sector are making big profits again but the jobless rate remains high especially for people of color and youth. Many are asking “if the government doesn’t act where will the jobs come from”?

The movement for jobs has to also focus on the November midterm elections.  The extreme right is trying to reverse the results won in the 2008 election. They want a Republican rightwing majority in the U.S. House and Senate. They want to set the stage for a defeat of Obama in 2012.

The CPUSA/YCL conference and school will examine how both organizations can work to defeat this extremely dangerous right wing counter offensive.

Discussion topics at the school will include political economy, objective assessment of the Obama administration, the political balance of forces, the socialist perspective and the U.S., building unity and organizing at the grassroots for jobs and equality. There will be a $50 registration fee, which will cover food and housing.  The conference/school promises to be an exciting and enlightening experience. 

All those interested in attending please contact:, John Bachtell, or

Photo: Celebrating graduation from a previous school. (PW)


Jarvis Tyner
Jarvis Tyner

Jarvis Tyner is executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board.. He was a founding member of the Black Radical Congress and served on its national coordinating committee for five years.

Tyner was born in the Mill Creek community of West Philadelphia in 1941 and graduated from West Philadelphia High School. He joined the Communist Party USA at the age of 20. After several years working in various industrial jobs in the Philadelphia area, where he was a member of the Amalgamated Lithographers and the Teamsters union, he moved to New York in 1967 to become the national chair of the DuBois Clubs of America, and later founding chair of the Young Workers Liberation League. He was the Communist Party USA candidate for vice president of the U.S. in 1972 and 1976, running with party leader Gus Hall.

As a leader of the CPUSA Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appears on the media, campuses and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality and the socialist alternative. He currently resides in the Inwood section of Manhattan, N.Y., is married and the father of four adult children and one grandchild.