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Freedom Socialist Party calls for a new revolution this 4th of July

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Photo by Lindsey Anderson
Photo by Lindsey Anderson

Most Americans donned their red, white, and blue for neighborhood cookouts and pool parties on Tuesday, July 4, but not the ladies at the Freedom Socialist Party — they got to work celebrating the centennial of the birth of one of its beloved founders, Clara Fraser. Gathered in front of the Lenin statue in Fremont, activists from the party and Radical Women held a speak-out in honor of her memory.

"I'm happy to be here celebrating a revolutionary Fourth of July," said Doreen, a member of Radical Women. "It was one of the things Clara always said: 'This is the holiday of the Revolution, and we need another one,' the workers need another one. I'm happy to be here at the Lenin statue to do just that."

Speakers took to the microphone for nearly two hours to discuss revolution. Hot-button topics included workers' rights, women's rights, and Queer and Trans rights.

"Universal healthcare: there shouldn't be a question of fighting for it — you have it. Free education, free childcare, abortion on demand, full equality for all people regardless of race, sex, gender, or sexuality... You're a person, you count, you have full and equal rights for every person. That's what we're for," speaker Megan Cornish declared.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Clara's legacy
Equal rights for every person was at the forefront of Fraser's philosophy. According to Cornish, Fraser saw the good in humanity and believed that a radical socialist revolution would lead to positive change.

People often claimed that socialist groups, like FSP, would ultimately become greedy dictators, just like Stalin. Fraser, however, had a different approach.

In 1945, she was a new college graduate. The daughter of working-class Jewish immigrants, Fraser found connections in the Socialist Party early. After graduating college, she joined the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party — an anti-Stalin socialist group.

When others would question the merits of socialism, Fraser always had an answer. "One thing she did was she had a 'come to the revolution' to-do list, which is my favorite," Cornish recalled.

The list includes transferring private property to public ownership, nationalizing the banks, completing funding for education, and letting "a million cultural flowers bloom! Spark an explosion of rich, creative, diversified, and exciting art in all forms."

To the people who encountered her, Fraser was a radical. To the close friends and colleagues who came out to remember her (she died in Seattle in 1998), Fraser was a comedian, a confidant, and a great conversationalist.

"Clara's basic, fundamental ideas everybody knew, but if you would talk to her about everyday events in the world, she often had a different take than you would think she would," Cornish said. "She looked at what she said about the word 'radical' as going to the root of problems, and she was always into that."

"She thought of things in a way you didn't consider, which made you think," added Bernadette Lough. "She was funnier than hell. She had such a good sense of humor."

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Activists speak out about workers' rights
Given Fraser's lifelong dedication to the revolution, the mic was turned over to anyone gathered who had something they wanted to share.

Robin Ginnis, a healthcare worker based in Bellevue, mentioned her concerns about defunding public healthcare services. "Our public health funding is being cut from $30 million to $6 [million], which might mean that our clinic and other services will be eliminated," she shared. "Our Bellevue clinic serves a lot of uninsured folks in our community. We also have one of the only... reproductive health clinics. We have a ...clinic where teens can come in, no questions asked, and get services. We do great work for our community. It would be devastating to us and our community if we disappeared with nothing to take its place."

Ginnis's announcement was immediately met with calls from attendees asking how they could help. For now, she said, spreading the word in hopes that Bellevue's city council will see support is enough.

Continuing with workers' rights, another attendee, Ann Slater, came forward with news of an upcoming UPS strike at the end of summer. "Starting August 1, they're fighting for things like air conditioning in vehicles, so they don't die from heat. They're trying to get rid of a two-tier system where people who do the same work because they're hired at different times are paid [a difference of] up to five dollars an hour," she explained. "We deserve more, and that is what our July 4th holiday is about, the fight for more."

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Reclaiming the 4th of July
Fraser left a long legacy advocating for workers, women, and LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people. As a new wave of conservative laws and policies continues to sweep the nation, members of the Freedom Socialist Party feel a strong sense of urgency to continue Fraser's legacy and fight for the future she would have wanted to see, especially on a day dedicated to freedom and revolution.

"The Fourth of July: for a long time, the far right has been trying to claim it [in] the name of the Founding Fathers, but the American Revolution, like all wars, was fought by the working class," Lough said. "They fought for a lot more rights than were granted to them after they won that impossible war against one of the mightiest militaries in the world.

"So, we don't think the right wing should be able to claim that holiday. We think it belongs to the American workers who won the war."

Lough, like many members of the FSP, believes the next American Revolution is socialism. "Just like it was impossible to overthrow the English monarchy, which the Americans did, we think they can overthrow capitalism in this country, and if they do it in this country, then all the other countries where you have all these tyrants that are held up because of the American military, that all goes away too. So our revolution in this country would help the whole world, not just America."

"The Fourth of July is the perfect time to talk about another revolution in this country that should be socialist and feminist, liberation for people of color, and LGBTQ people," Gina Petry added.

"We are also recognizing the centennial birthday of Clara Fraser, who was one of the founders of Radical Women and Freedom Socialist Party, because that is one of the things she was fighting for the whole time she was alive."

Fraser dedicated her life to uplifting others and advocating for equal rights. Today, her legacy lives on in the hearts of her comrades, who aren't afraid to gather in front of the Lenin statue on the Fourth of July and speak out about the change they want to see in the world.