Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organizacion Socialista del Camino para la Libertad

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Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organizacion Socialista del Camino para la Libertad was a US Marxist-Leninist group, coming out of the Maoist tradition.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization changed its name to Liberation Road at the group's national congress in April 2019.

Prominent members

Front and influenced groups

Marching with RSCC

Undated photo Khalil Vasquez center, Juliet Ucelli right


In 1985 when two small organizations, Proletarian Unity League and the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters, formed Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organicion Socialista del Camino Para la Libertad (FRSO/OSCL).

Both PUL and the RWH came out of what was called the New Communist Movement.

During the Sixties, tens of thousands of young people in this country called themselves revolutionaries. A slew of parties and organizations arose in preparation for a revolution that seemed on the horizon. Most groups told the world they were the only ones who could lead the revolution. By the late '70s the upsurge had subsided. Shortly afterwards, the NCM collapsed as well, in large part because of in-fighting between groups/parties each claiming the be “the one true” one.
Both PUL and RWH had opposed this "one true path" thinking. They centered unity efforts among survivors of the collapse who shared that viewpoint. Even so, it was an earnest struggle just to unite the two groups in 1985.
Line was hammered out on a number of issues. In particular, PUL folk got RWH members clear on the role of white privilege—specifically the role white privilege plays in maintaining the oppression of the Black nation, the Chicana/o nation and the First Nations, and in stunting the development of class consciousness and unity in the US working class.

The Congress voted to become the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, borrowing another name for the Underground Railroad, so as to put the struggle of the Black Nation, and by implication all oppressed nationalities, at the center of our politics, even if the new organization was still uncomfortably white.

The merger of the two organizations was just the start.

First, in 1986 came a West Coast-based group called the Organization for Revolutionary Unity . They "brought a wealth of experience, especially from the Chicano movement".

ORU had ties on the other side of the continent with the Amilcar Cabral-Paul Robeson Collective, Black Marxist-Leninists who had moved to the traditional homeland of the Black Nation, the Black Belt South. Their decision in 1989 to join FRSO was a watershed.[1]

Now we were a group with increased membership of people of color with a presence in Black revolutionary and nationalist circles.

The Harold Washington campaign

In the early 1980s, the FRSO campaigned for radical Chicago mayoral candidate Harold Washington.[2]

The Jackson campaigns

All of this came after Jesse Jackson's 1984 bid for the Democratic Party nomination for President.

His 1984 and 1988 bids marked the high point of nearly 20-year period when the Black Liberation Movement’s main focus was electoral, a strategy geared toward consolidating gains that had been won in the street.
Freedom Road's Forward Motion magazine

According to Freedom Road, Jackson had the most left platform of any major party candidate in the 20th century. He won support from a "broad array of forces—African Americans, naturally, and other oppressed nationality communities, but also several unions, white family farmers in the Midwest crippled by the Reagan Recession, gays facing the first great wave of AIDS deaths, feminists, students and more. Much of the organized socialist left in the US, and an even larger section of unaffiliated reds and revolutionaries threw themselves into the campaigns".

Jackson's newly formed National Rainbow Coalition, billed as an independent form that would fight inside and outside of the Democratic Party for a radical agenda, provided a common project for comrades to work on and around. Now we could test and strengthen the unity we had built. In 1988, Jackson won nearly a third of the delegates, and the "Democratic Party moved hard to co-opt him".

When Jackson slid into the Democratic Party mainstream he tried to bring his whole campaign with him. But FRSO members joined others fighting to keep their state Rainbows independent until he dissolved them.[3]

Another Merger

Among those who chose to go with Jesse Jackson into the Democrats were members of the League of Revolutionary Struggle, the largest surviving group from the New Communist Movement. They disbanded the group and distanced themselves from their revolutionary past. Not everyone in LRS agreed.[4]

These comrades established the Socialist Organizing Network. By 1995 they had merged with FRSO. The new organization maintained the FRSO name along with most of the line and functioning of the original FRSO.

Left Poles

During the early 1990s, FRSO made the strategic decision to build organized left poles within the various social movements. Examples included New Raza Left, Asian Left Forum, the Labor Left, and especially the Black Radical Congress.

In 1998 "over 2,000 Black intellectuals, organizers, politicians, workers, students, community folk and leftists" gathered in Chicago to start the Black Radical Congress. The BRC was conceived in response to the "sexism of the Million Man March and its rebuff of the black Left". Grassroots groups like the Organization for Black Struggle from St. Louis and Black Workers for Justice from North Carolina helped anchor it. It issued a Black Freedom Agenda and launched several national campaigns.

In the course of doing this kind of work, FRSO adopted in the late '90s ambitious goals for transforming the internal culture and demographics of Freedom Road, to make the organization majority people of color, upping the figures for women, young folks, LGBTQ, and working class people, and "developing these folks as our leadership".[5]

Making substantial progress on that goal has meant that not everyone who wants to join can come in when they want.


FRSO split in 1999.

Two related questions led to the split: What is socialism? How do you build a party?

The first came up in the '80s. A few members, based in the Midwest, decided that any country ruled by a self-defined Communist Party was de facto socialist. The Tienanmen Square Massacre of Chinese workers and students in 1989 became the line in the sand. The Midwest comrades held that it had saved socialism.

Unimpressed, the 1991 Congress, by a considerable majority, adopted "On The Crisis of Socialism," which called for a rethinking of the history of the socialist model established by the October Revolution and identified questions, like democracy, for which answers had to be developed. It became one of FRSO's three basic unity documents.

The party building issue got sharp later in the '90s. The Midwest grouping firmly opposed a proposal that Freedom Road should center its work on Left Refoundation, a different approach to building a revolutionary socialist party—or parties—in the US that would draw a wide range of organizations and individuals into an extended process of rebuilding the left. The comrades from the Midwest favored a traditional party building approach of recruiting people to the existing group, all in line with long-established and unchanged Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy. Left Refoundation, focusing as it did on the crisis in socialism in theory, organization and practice, was anathema to them and they openly declared their intention to drive out its advocates. When they could rally no one else to this effort, they left.

The Midwest split group included a minority of the leading body, a minority of the members, a minority of the districts. Of all the groups that had united to create Freedom Road, they had several members who had been in the old RWH, one from SON, and none from the others. They quickly abandoned key elements of FRSO's political line, dropping the position on the crisis of socialism and then rewriting the basic document on the statement on national oppression to eliminate the term "white privilege" and downplay the concept.

The New group decided to use the name Freedom Road Socialist Organization as well. As they publish a newspaper called FightBack!, the KeyWiki page can be found at Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!.[6]

Fire By Night merger

One of the most important developments in the history of FRSO/OSCL was the merger with Fire by Night in 2000. This was the first group to join Freedom Road that had not come out of the NCM. This new generation of revolutionaries came to FRSO through the student movement and anarchism. They brought with them fresh ideas, analysis, language, culture, and experience. They helped transform FRSO.[7]

Modern outlook

In 1999, the Battle in Seattle announced a new configuration of forces on the U.S. political scene.

The developing "No Global alliance of unions, environmentalists, anti-imperialists around a critique of corporate transnational neo-liberalism and the optimistic slogan, "A Better World is Possible" promised to shape the political struggle in the US in the new century".[8]

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon cut off that path. Instead, for the first time since Vietnam, US imperialism plunged into a full-scale war of occupation. Two, in fact. This totally changed the dynamics of the struggle in the US. Members started building an antiwar movement nationally (United for Peace and Justice, US Labor Against the War, Veterans for Peace, the Iraq Moratorium) and locally while combating attacks on immigrants and Muslims.
Two other major developments stand out. One was the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The inability of the left and the Black movement to counter the Bush administration and capital’s remake of the Gulf Coast underlined the need for a coordinated and organized left.

The other development was the huge immigrant upsurge of 2006, which made it clear that any revival of the labor movement would require immigrant workers playing a leading role. Work that comrades had long been engaged in positioned us to help lead the DC area demonstrations and play a strong role in Los Angeles, two centers of the levantimiento.

Socialism for the 21st Century in the US

Since the late '90s, much of FRSO/OSCL's political work has been centered on advancing and refining the project of Left Refoundation. The effort started with exploratory national meetings among several revolutionary socialist (and a few social movement groups), which developed closer working relationships but did not produce organizational progress.

From this FRSO sharpened the vision of Left Refoundation. Drawing on the analysis of Chilean socialist and political thinker, Marta Harnecker, FRSO has said it must be based on the fusion of forces from both the Party Left (socialist organizations) and the Social Movement Left (mass-based groups in different sectors with left politics and a core open to socialism). Two pamphlets were written with these new sights and widely circulated: "Which Way is Left" and "The Young and the Leftless” (aimed at younger activists). Both make the call for a broad party-building project on the left which required a reassessment of long-established organizational models, theory and practice. These pamphlets, coupled with participation in local social forums and the USSF, locally-based cross-left forms, and being a founding organization of Revolutionary Work in Our Times has stirred interest in a new generation of revolutionaries based in the social movements.

Another aspect of Left Refoundation has been the development of new theory. As a contribution FRSO undertook a several year project of writing a book, The Cost of Privilege, which lays out a basic understanding of the centrality of national oppression to capitalist rule in this country and the mechanisms by which it is maintained. A pamphlet entitled “Intersectionality” presents our view on the inter-connectedness between different oppressions, class, national, gender and others, and has been important in drawing a new layer of queer and trans youth into the group.

According to FRSO/OSCL, "our emphasis on creating something new and substantially larger and broader than any existing socialist group, focused on developing 21st century socialism in all it aspects, has resulted in a lot of new comrades knocking on the door. A few are veterans of the New Communist Movement, but it has mainly been younger folks from the anarchist tradition, small ultra-left groups and the cores of NGO-type groups who have signed on. This has helped Freedom Road expand into several new cities in the last few years, with more in prospect."[9]

Working through the Democrats

Writing on the Freedom Road Socialist Organization website in January 2008 FRSO National Executive Committee member Jamala Rogers, urged her comrades to work inside the Democratic Party when conditions were suitable[10];

Build locally based, independent, progressive mass electoral organizations that can identify, train and run candidates for office within the Democratic Party or as independents, depending on the actual situation at the local level. Such locally based organizations should be seen as a component in laying the basis for an eventual electoral realignment, but should not be created as independent political parties. They must be more than PACs, 527s or think tanks in that they must be a means for real people to interact with the electoral arena in ways other than as objects. Such organizations should seek to give electoral voice to the various progressive social movements that are not, mainly, electoral.

Organizing the South

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Solidarity with Sept. 24 FBI Raid Activists

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression lists Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organizacion Socialista del Camino para la Libertad as one of the organizations that has issued a statement of solidarity in support of the activists raided in the September 24, 2010 FBI Raids.[11]

Student fronts

Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee

According to Marxist commentator Louis Proyect;[12]

In New York, Freedom Road... mostly works through a front group called the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC).

Ferguson/Black Lives matter

Freedom Road Socialist Organization members and friends in Ferguson.

Freedom Road Ferguson meeting

Spring 2015, the New York/New Jersey District of Freedom Road Socialist Organization sponsored a forum entitled “Ferguson: The Movement So Far and Lessons for Coming Struggles.” The first speaker was "our comrade", Montague Simmons, Chair of the legendary Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis.[13]

The meeting was held 39 Eldridge St,New York, 19 March 2015. Organized by Eric Odell.

A Discussion with Montague Simmons Chair of the Organization of Black Struggle – St. Louis and labor organizer

Loyda Colon Co-Director of the Justice Committee, a Latina/Latino-led organization dedicated to building a movement against police violence and systemic racism in New York City

Speaking for the first time in NYC since the police murder of Michael Brown, the chair of OBS, which played a major role in the Ferguson protests, discusses the new strategies, organizational forms and social forces that emerged there, and how the movement was sustained. Loyda Colon will reflect on the Justice Committee’s work organizing with families directly impacted by police violence, and will share their thoughts on the current movement in NYC.
Together they will share their thoughts on key questions for the movements against police abuse that are erupting around the country. How do we hold together broad united fronts with different generations, cultures, classes and political perspectives? What’s the role of anti-capitalists and socialists? What kind of policing reforms do we want and how do they relate to other issues in our communities, and to radical social transformation?[14]

Those signalling their intention to attend on Wherevent included John McCarthy, Juliet Ucelli, Betty Yu, Lily Defriend, Wai Yee Poon, David Unger, Matthew Tinker, Ryan Briles, Enbion Micah Aan, Erick Moreno, Terry Marshall, Jesse Baboo, Daniel Tasripin, Anton Han Kiang, Starlitekid Cosmos, Clayton Nino Brown, Miguel Marrero-Bermudez, Joy Schulman, Jeanne D. Shaw, Mark Swier, Stephanie Zukasaka, Denise Chupacabral, Anne Mitchell, Emma Pliskin, Oriana Roeckraeyer, Lara Shepard-Blue, Karly Safar, Robina Rai, Meghan Hines, ManSee Kong, Teresa Basilio, Aisha Shillingford, Adriana Cruz, Ofie Virtucio, Rivka Paradis, Katrina Cortes, Sharice Richards.[15]

Book talk with Jamala Rogers

518 Valencia St, San Francisco Sunday 7 February 2016, organized by Michelle Foy "Book talk with Jamala Rogers, founder of the St. Louis based Organization for Black Struggle & author of Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebel".

Jamala will explore the roots of the Ferguson Rebellion and the practical lessons for organizing.
"There is no algorithm, no theory that can predict when human rage reaches its boiling point. I wanted to expose to some and to remind others that there is another side of Ferguson, St. Louis County, USA that exists...if we work together in a respectful & disciplined way, a new Ferguson, St. Louis, & USA, is possible." —Jamala Rogers

Those signalling their intention to attend on Wherevent included Georgia Faye Hirsty, Melanie McCrea, Joe Navarro, Michelle Foy, Cynthia Fong, Gerald Lenoir, Fernando Marti, Lucia Aguilar-Navarro, Joyce Nakamura, Jeremy Gong, Jason Wallach, Andrew Rogge, Lucy Clarke, Colleen FitzSimons, Saima Hashimi, Rachel Rye Butler, Pam Tau Lee, Afomeia Tesfai, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Kari Riesgo Banuelos, Eva Martinez, Justin Tombolesi, Josh Warren-White, Kate Sorensen, Malkia Cyril, Lelia Gomez, Mark Prudowsky, N’Tanya Lee, Marcy Rein, Finley Coyl, Shina Riane, Ken Yamada, Dyan Ruiz, Nancy Wan, Sarah Jarmon, Mark McBeth, Leon Sun, Sabrina Cascos Peterson, Mary Sweeters, Eric See, Dani Gonzalez, Mashael Majid, Susan Weiss, Juan Gamboa, Jr., Amy Sonnie, Felicia Gustin, Mickey Ellinger, Betty Pazmino, Charlie Fredrick, Aimee Molina Cuellar, Becki Ming-Yoke Hom.

Sponsored by: Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad and LeftRoots.[16]

Black Lives Matter


Freedom Road Socialist Organization is the guiding force behind Black Lives Matter.

"New Confederacy"

Boston Socialist Unity Project 2017 conference: Building Independent Power and Organizations Room 36-153

Moderated by Mary Jo Connelly and Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organicion Socialista del Camino para la Libertad. Mary Jo is a member of the FRSO national executive committee.

We will engage in dialogue with BSUP participants about revolutionary strategies to beat the rising right wing. We will share FRSO's analysis of the New Confederacy as the main enemy; do some mapping of the US left; and consider the possibilities in Massachusetts for Independent Political Organizations to unite our movements and build power to defeat the right.

This workshop will share Freedom Road's perspective on the centrality of the New Confederacy, which, like the first confederacy, is rooted in the most reactionary, racist, imperialist and anti-democratic forces in the country. We will talk about the New Confederacy’s state-based strategy, and the potential for state-focused independent political organizations (IPOs) to unite the left in building political power and a strategy for socialism. This is a strategy that FRSO/OSCL is developing on the ground in the US South and which we are excited about learning from and working with others to work out in the Massachusetts ‘blue state’ context.

We will draw out some strategic questions:

• "inside/outside" strategies for political power: strategies that can operate both inside and outside the political arena, as strategies that can operate both inside and outside the Democratic party;

• united front strategies that can develop the strategic alliance of the working class and the national liberation movements, and which can uphold the political leadership of working class people of color and women

• progressive and tactical alliances

Finally, workshop participants will do some mapping of the social movement and party left as we consider the reality and potential for IPOs to be a useful vehicle and strategy in Massachusetts.[17]

Supporting Chokwe Antar Lumumba


Chokwe Antar Lumumba for Mayor of Jackson! Posted on Tuesday May 2nd, 2017 by Freedom Road Socialist Organization national organizer Cazembe Jackson.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad (FRSO/OSCL) fully supports the campaign to elect Chokwe Antar Lumumba. This campaign’s foundation is based on a participatory style of governance. The people of Jackson have helped design the platform that Lumumba is running on. There are strong, brilliant Black women running his campaign. He has real solutions to problems that Jackson residents have named as their top issues. This is a campaign that has been fueled by grassroots fundraising, volunteering and resource sharing.

It is important that we pay attention to this campaign across the country. One of the campaign’s slogans has been “when I become mayor, you become mayor”. This is because Chokwe is the face of a movement here in Jackson. The people have been and are continuously being trained and developed in ways to not only help determine what the platform will be, but also how to hold Chokwe accountable to his commitments made during the campaign.
In 2013, the late Chokwe Lumumba, father of Chokwe Antar Lumumba, wowed the entire country when he became mayor of Jackson. We know that a second people’s victory is challenging because those in power have already seen a glimpse of what a people’s platform looks like in practice. Today, the vision will be restored.
FRSO/OSCL stands with the oppressed and working people of Jackson and the candidate that they have chosen, Chokwe Antar Lumumba. We’re here today driving folks to the polls, phone banking and poll watching! Dare to struggle! Dare to win!

Bay Area: Looking Towards 2020 Elections

On March 14 (2019), Freedom Road was invited to a meeting where a small group of individuals from community organizations, labor unions, national civic engagement organizations, and left organizations (broadly speaking), met to discuss what might be done to organize the Bay Area left around a political strategy for the 2020 presidential elections. A central theme of the meeting was the need to engage our communities to defeat the Far Right (what Freedom Road calls: The New Confederacy). Out of this meeting a proposal was drafted that would:

  • Build the political (liberatory and transformative lens) and skill capacity of canvassers, organizers, and leaders on the ground in key West/Southwest battleground states;
  • Pump resources in the form of money, volunteers, staff, and trainers into these swing states to help local organizations give a decisive boost to the Democratic Party candidates; and
  • Build up the long-term capacity, strategic thinking, and political coherence of the Bay Area Left.[18]


  1. A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
  2. Freedom Road Socialist Organization: 20 Years of Struggle, FRSO website, accessed December 21, 2010
  3. A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
  4. A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
  5. A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
  6. A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
  7. A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
  8. A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
  9. A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
  11. Committee to Stop FBI Repression: Solidarity Statements (accessed on Oct. 6, 2010)
  12. Workers Vanguard, No. 1004, June 8, 2012
  13. FRSO, An In-Depth Look at the Ferguson Eruption: Organization for Black Struggle Leader Lays It Out Posted on Thursday August 13th, 2015 by FRSO/OSCL
  14. [ Whereevent, Activities New York / Description A Discussion with Montague Simmons]
  15. Wherevent, A Discussion with Montague Simmons
  16. Wherevent Book talk with Jamala Rogers, founder of the St. Louis based Organization for Black Struggle & author of Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebel
  17. [1]
  18. [2]