A Summary Recap of Frida’s 112th Birthday Party in Austin
On July 6th, Popular Women’s Movement-Movimiento Femenino Popular (PWM-MFP) invited the public to a celebration of revolutionary artist Frida Khalo. Our event was aimed at highlighting Frida as the revolutionary woman who believed in the International Communist Movement. We honored her 112th birthday by paying tribute to women martyrs of international class struggle, and discussing how mainstream liberal representation of Kahlo as a feminist icon has excluded her red politics.
The event emphasized her revolutionary legacy, especially her move to denounce revisionist Leon Trotsky and her commitment to the International Communist Movement. The three-hour event began at 4PM with art projects and snacks. Children in attendance made paper flowers, colored pictures of Kahlo’s self-portraits, and decorated a large collage board which included a replica of Frida’s body cast fashioning a red hammer and sickle. Alongside the cast accompanied the heads of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Chairman Gonzalo.
Participants enjoyed snacks while checking out a literature table in the courtyard. This table included PWM-MFP published booklets “Misogyny on the Left: Abusers & Macktivists in Austin” and our recent health journal release “Fury of Women”. An alter could be found outside with pictures of Kahlo and other revolutionary women like Rosa Luxemburg, Jiang Qing, and Comrade Norah.
As participants got comfortable we presented a speech and biography of Frida’s political evolution alongside criticisms of liberals’ usage of her image as a revolutionary artist and constant ignoring of her role as an unconditional ally to the Communist Revolutionary Movement.
Although Frida lived a lifetime of chronic pain both physically and emotionally, her passion for class struggle and communism strengthened her revolutionary optimism to the very end of her days. As a teenager she became politically active, joining the Young Communist League and at death her coffin was draped in a red cloth bearing the hammer and sickle in homage to her communist beliefs.
Frida self-criticized her early contributions to the communist revolution as lacking. She knew her art was too personal and not useful beyond an expression of her internal/mental issues, which were fed by the unhealthy, manipulative, and abusive relationship she had with Diego (someone twice her senior), but also the pain she gained growing up with multiple medical issues.
Recovering from a surgery Frida wrote, “I feel uneasy about my painting. Above all I want to transform it into something useful for the Communist revolutionary movement, since up to now I have only painted the earnest portrayal of myself, but I’m very far from work that could serve the Party. I have to fight with all my strength to contribute the few positive things my health allows me to the revolution. The only true reason to live for.”
When an attendee questioned Frida’s relationship with Trotsky, we explained that later in life she declared her alliance with Trotsky and his revisionist supporters was an error and her real admiration was for Joseph Stalin.
Our second speech, presented by a Chicano tenant from East Riverside, spoke about getting organized against gentrification and capitalism as an alternative to the dead-end electoral politics of revisionists. (Waiting for quote from text to add here) The tenant spoke of the broader struggle against gentrification in East Riverside, along with the revolutionary optimism they carry in the mounting oppressions they experience from being a gay oppressed nation working class revolutionary.
We had an acoustic song written and performed by a supporter.
Ending our performances and speeches we brought our ofrenda to the front and center for a discussion on the women comrades accompanying Frida on the alter. Three separate members gave short speeches, the first was for Comrade Norah of Peru, founder of the Movimiento Feminino Popular, and a high-ranking leader of the Communist Party of Peru.
Rosa Luxemburg who became one of Germany’s strongest, most endeared communists. Rosa played a significant role in the German workers movement in the early 20th century as a staunch anti-war activist who correctly criticized WWI as an Imperialist war that would do nothing but harm the working class. This year marks 100 years since her murder, and to this day Rosa Luxemburg remains a brave martyr of the working class and a hero.
Chinese communist Jiang Qing who made large contributions to revolutionary. She played a major part in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the pinnacle of Socialist revolution, where she used her talent and knowledge of theater to serve the people. Jiang helped create theater and films which encouraged the masses to fight the reactionary thinking of the old world and immersed the masses of China in attacks on the people within the Communist party who attempted to send China on the capitalist road. After Qing’s suicide in prison she was held as hero to the people of China and especially the women who saw their place in society improve dramatically with the new mindset brought on by the cultural revolution.
A short discussion followed where the crowd was asked what revolutionary women they found inspiring. One attendee said Rosa’s strength and dedication helped her stay optimistic about the revolution and uplifted her revolutionary optimism. What does it mean to support the international revolution against capitalism? Some suggested spending money on companies who are ethical, however others in the crowd brought up that there are no ethical corporations under capitalism and that minor lifestyle changes are not revolutionary. To attack capitalism, we must push forward with revolution and organize collectively. Many in the room voiced why they support revolution and how one can organize today, “We have nothing to lose, if everything you vote for can be taken away, so why not fight back as hard as you can?”
After the discussion we moved outside where a birthday cake was served, and a piñata of Trotsky was hung from a tree to be bashed by attendees with a stick. Children lined up first, but eventually Trotsky was split by energetic attendees.
The birthday celebration culminated with attendees marching a couple blocks away to where a large mural had been made on an abandoned building. The mural depicted Kahlo holding hands with a PWM militant in the style of her 1939 painting The Two Fridas. A final speech was given on the creation of PWM Austin chapter as a revolutionary fighting women’s organization that upholds the international red banner of class struggle. We’re not a communist organization, and non-communist women are welcome to join our organization, but we follow communist ideals and methods of organizing. This means we are working towards a world without exploitation, without homeless, without imperialism – and we know the only way we achieve this, is to fight for it. We are inspired by our sisters in Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and Peru.
At the event we also released our most recent journal “Fury of Women: Healthcare Addition.” This journal focuses on the reactionary attack on Texas women’s healthcare. STD testing, birth control, and breast cancer treatment are all at risk of being defunded for working class women. Here in the south there is a growing right-winged reactionary wave to ban abortions and we absolutely need to fight for women and their rights! Revolutionary organizations in Austin that believe in our ability to take power from the ruling class, and truly liberate ourselves from capitalism must come together and defend women’s healthcare. Our journal included entries from personal experiences with healthcare in Austin in the form of diary entries, art, and poetry. This journal is currently available for donation on venmo at womens-mvt for $7 (please include your shipping information in a message).
This event was only made possible through the dedication of organized members, who set speech schedules, collectively brought snacks, and created the space where we could discuss Frida as the revolutionary artist she was! We’d like to thank Casa de Resistencia for letting us use their space. They are a neighborhood center for aspiring writers.