John Thompson Parker is an African American member of the Workers World Party‘s (WWP) National Committee. A former schoolteacher, he has been a militant unionist and Communist political organizer since the age of 18. Parker also has served variously as a correspondent for the WWP newsletter Workers World; a regional coordinator for International ANSWER‘s Los Angeles office; west coast coordinator for the International Action Center; and coordinator of the Los Angeles Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. In addition, he has: (a) helped organize demonstrations to defend Communist North Korea from what he views as the ravages of U.S. imperialism; (b) fought to end America’s trade embargo against Communist Cuba; and (c) participated alongside Ramsey Clark in international delegations to the Palestinian territories, Sudan, Iraq, and Iran. After Sudan’s main pharmaceutical plant was demolished in 1998 by an errant U.S. missile strike, for instance, Parker visited that site to survey the damage and exploit its anti-American propaganda value. For similar reasons, he also traveled to Iraq in the 1990s to witness first-hand the effects of U.S./UN sanctions on the people there, especially children.
From an early age, Parker recognized what he now calls “the superiority of socialism in terms of meeting the essential needs of humanity.” He joined the Communist Party as a young man and has long characterized the United States as a racist, oppressive, greedy nation that “only cares about profits.”
In 1997 Parker took part in solidarity work with the Venceremos Brigades, which covertly transported hundreds of young Americans to Cuba to help harvest sugar cane and interact with Havana’s Communist revolutionary leadership. (The Brigades were organized by Fidel Castro‘s Cuban intelligence agency, which trained “brigadistas” in guerrilla warfare techniques including the use of arms and explosives.)
In 2004 Parker became the first person ever to run for U.S. president on the Workers World Party ticket; his vice presidential running mate was fellow WWP member Teresa Gutierrez. In their campaign, the pair sought to: “reach out to the class in society that is made up of the millions, not the millionaires”; “encourage mass action and class struggle”; “warn all those struggling for a better world not to rely on capitalist elections to solve their problems”; and “extend a hand of solidarity to the most oppressed, many of whom to this day are still denied even a minute semblance of bourgeois democratic rights and fill the prisons in this country.”
Parker condemns “U.S. imperialism” as “the greatest purveyor of violence … in the world today” and “the most dangerous threat” currently facing humanity.
Whatever atrocities may be committed by other nations, he says, they are dwarfed by American transgressions — “like a single drop in the ocean of U.S. imperialist blood.”
On the domestic front, says Parker, far too many lives have been “lost in this country due to social programs sacrificed on the altar of the military-industrial complex to pay for [America’s] wars.” Parker also condemns the “racist killer cops” who allegedly gun down “black youth” in the U.S. at a rate of one “every 28 hours.”
Further, Parker objects to the notion that life in America is somehow preferable to life in poverty-stricken or war-torn nations elsewhere in the world. In 2013, for example, he asked rhetorically: “How many people didn’t die in Syria due to its guarantee of free health care and education?”
In June 2016, Parker ran in a U.S. Senate primary in California on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket, receiving approximately 33,000 votes. Urging his supporters to fulfill their “responsibilities as revolutionaries,” he was a strong supporter of “the Black Lives Matter solidarity movement.” “I’m not only a socialist,” said Parker during his campaign, “I’m a communist — and here’s why. The less than 1% who run this country — the financial and industrial monopolies — own the factories, machinery and land used for production of our most vital needs, like energy, food, etc. In other words they own the means of production. This is how they control this country and the politicians from president to city council…. As senator I would work towards putting the ownership of the banks and major industry into the hands of the people so that WE can determine our future, not the less than 1% who warm our planet and kill our children.”
Parker made yet another unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 2018. His campaign sought to “highlight and encourage the Black Lives Matter movement and build solidarity — especially for Black and Brown peoples who face the brunt of state-sanctioned murders by police.” Parker also aimed to “expose how U.S. war and the economic war of austerity and imperialist trade policies are all part of the war here against working and poor people and fuel the racist attacks on the immigrant community.”
Further Reading: “John Parker” (OurCampaigns.com, Keywiki.org); “On the Revolutionary Road” (video by John Parker, 2012, re: Parker’s remarks about socialism’s “superiority” and America’s obsession with “profits”); “Defending Syria’s Right to Sovereignty” (by John Parker, 12-2-2013, re: America as a “purveyor of violence” and a “most dangerous threat”); Speech by John Parker (November 2013, re: “U.S. imperialist blood”, “social programs sacrificed”, “racist killer cops”, and Syria’s “free health care and education”); “WWP Builds Solidarity for Black Lives Matter Movement” (Workers World, 8-25-2016); “John Parker” (Keywiki.org, re: Parker’s explanation of why “I’m a communist”); “Socialist John Parker 4 U.S. Senate” (GoFundMe.com, 2018, re: Parker’s 2018 Senate campaign).