On Oct. 16, socialist City Council candidate Kristin Richardson Jordan and socialist Mayoral candidate Cathy Rojas came together for a joint “meet and greet” in Harlem. They and their teams fanned out, listened to residents describe their issues and needs, and talked about their programs, which include guaranteed affordable housing, jobs at livable wages, an end to police brutality and taxing the rich.
In Harlem, the problems of capitalism are laid bare. Harlem is home to thousands of essential workers who have kept this city running during the pandemic. Yet these working-class African American families who have resided and raised their kids here are being pushed out of their homes and neighborhoods by gentrification. Resources for workers and their families are cut. The NYPD solves only 2% of major crimes in this city, yet it receives a bloated police budget which it uses to terrorize communities like Harlem.
The two socialists explained it is time for resources to be invested back into the communities who built this city and keep it running. Cathy Rojas, mayoral candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, told passersby, “We create everything. We don’t want more police. We want after-school programs. We want mentorship programs. We want jobs for our youth, jobs for our families, food, housing! These are the things that we deserve because we create all the wealth and it is ours!”
While not widely known, seeking social and economic justice through socialism has deep roots in this historic Black neighborhood. Militant figures such as A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen organized as socialists during the Harlem Renaissance. Both Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. were sympathizers of the socialist struggle. Benjamin J. Davis, a socialist, represented Harlem in the New York City Council for six years. Vito Marcantonio, also a socialist, represented East Harlem in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms.
The candidacies of Rojas and Richardson Jordan continue this tradition.