The Feb. 9-10 meeting of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA was marked by a stirring tribute to veteran Communist leader Dr. James E. Jackson.

In a moving tribute delivered by Jarvis Tyner, executive vice chairman of the CPUSA, Jackson’s long history of struggle was highlighted. Wishing Jackson a belated happy 87th birthday, Tyner said that for over 70 years Jim Jackson has been in the struggle on behalf of the working class and people of our country.

“Jim Jackson’s lifetime is a record of enormous practical and theoretical contributions to the working-class movement,” Tyner said.

Tyner traced Jackson’s life, including his days as a student of science at Howard University, as an activist in the Deep South, a journalist and editor for the Daily Worker and Daily World, a leader and activist in the peace movement and a Marxist-Leninist theoretician.

Tyner said that Jackson, authored the Party’s report “On the Theory of Black Liberation in the United States,” made a “pioneering contribution” to the struggle. The report argued for a basic shift in the Party’s position, that the African-American people were not a separate nation.

The 1957 report summarized the history of the Black freedom movement as that of “amassing the maximum self-organization, unity and strength of Black people and allying their forces with the major progressive causes and developments in complementary struggle for full equal rights for Black people and progress for the nation.”

The path to equality, Tyner quoted, “must be within a broad multiracial coalition of the oppressed and exploited to put an end to the rule of the monopoly successors of the slave power.”

Speaking of the work of Jackson and his wife Esther, Tyner described how they risked their lives to go into the Deep South as organizers of the Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC). This was in the 1930s, Tyner said, “when KKK terror was at floodtide, lynchings were commonplace, as were beatings, burnings, and other forms of genocide.” Jim and Esther, he said, like their close friend Paul Robeson, were “forerunners of the heroic struggles that were to come.”

Tyner quoted Julian Bond, NAACP chairman of the board, who said that Jim and Esther “were a model of what Black youth should and ought to do.” SNYC, Bond said, “preceded us, dared as we dared, dreamed as we dreamed.”

Tyner also quoted David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian from Rutgers University, who had interviewed Esther and Jim several times. Lewis said, “apart from Jim and Esther Jackson’s quite special relationship with Du Bois, what stands out for me is Jim’s career in the South. It would be hard to make sense of the civil rights struggles of the ‘60s without a knowledge and appreciation of this earlier movement in the south … Jim and Esther were very much a part of that movement.”

Tyner pointed out that as editor of the Worker, as education director and as international affairs secretary, Jim traveled to many countries, including Vietnam where he went into the war zone. Jackson was the “last western reporter to interview Ho Chi Minh.”

Tyner described Jackson as a “hero of our party” whose brave deeds would not be forgotten. He concluded with a salute from the National Committee of the Communist Party USA for “your life, your great achievements, your contribution, without which we would not be standing here today.”

When Tyner presented Jackson with a framed certificate of honor, the entire Winston Unity Auditorium rose to their feet in enthusiastic applause. In response Jackson told those assembled, “The Party is in good hands” … “You are in route to a future that will honor humanity.”