Robin Talbot explains why you should celebrate 100 years of the Young Communist League of Britain, 1921-2021.
Today (on 24 December) the YCL launched a new online platform for celebrating our centenary. For the next 100 days, we will be counting down towards the live launch of our 100 year celebrations, starting in April and reaching a finale in April 2022.
These celebrations follow on from the centenary celebrations of our glorious Communist Party in Britain and we would like to invite all friends, comrades and allies of Britain’s Communists to support us and get involved.
The first thing you can do is visit http://www.ycl100.org.uk. It is much more than the YCL100 Countdown to our live launch and Special Appeal. There will be a whole host of social media and video messages.
You will be able to see what the young Communists have planned for YCL100 from start to finish, from banner drops to murals, from international seminars to COVID-secure in person events, including our returned annual Summer Camp and 50th Congress.
Best of all, soon we will launch our YCL100 Expo and YCL100 Stories where we will tell the histories of our 100 years through old and new archives, art and memorabilia as well as direct testimonials from those of you who used to be in the YCL when you were younger.
If you are one of those people or possess anything that you think we would love to see, or want to contribute some artistic work to our Expo, then please contact us via our website!
Inspired by our past
The Young Communist League was founded at a special Unity Conference held from 20 to 26 August 1921 in Birmingham, uniting branches of the Young Workers’ League and the International Communist School Movement.
Since then, like the Communist Party, we have been at the forefront of the struggles of working people in Britain. We organised young workers in the factories and at educational institutions, as well as cultural and sports activities for the youth in organisations like the British Workers’ Sports Federation, in football teams and at our own holiday camps.
YCLers led thousands of people on mass trespasses of the English countryside, fighting for the right of British workers to be able to enjoy the outside, leading to the “right to roam” today. We played an instrumental role in the struggles against fascist groups, racism and discrimination and for freedom for the British colonies.
In the 1980s, our former General Secretary Mark Ashton helped to found the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), commemorated in the 2014 film Pride.
Our contributions to the cause of working class international solidarity have been second to none, mobilising to defeat fascism at home and abroad, on Cable Street and in the Spanish Republic in the 1930s.
In the 1960s, we fought for peace in organisations like CND and solidarity with the Vietnamese people against the U.S. invaders. We donated blood, medical aid and hundreds of bicycles that were collected by the Vietnamese delegates to the World Youth Festival in Bulgaria.
In the 1970s, many members of the Young Communist League volunteered to help in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, risking life and limb.
We conquer our future
In the youth wing of the Communist Party, we aim to encourage, inspire and train the young workers and students who will play the essential role of youth in the building of a mass movement capable of achieving real social and economic change and a better, Socialist future in Britain.
Throughout our 100 year celebrations, we will be celebrating our past in order to inspire new struggles in the present moment and in the future. At the heart of this centenary year, we are striving to build our organisation, develop new generations of young Communist leaders and reach out and talk to far more young people than ever before.
After the bleak experiences and into the aftermath of COVID and the economic crisis, YCL100 will be a time to renew our revolutionary spirit, tempered by hard work, sacrifice and unity, but also recapturing our enthusiasm for our struggle to build a better and happier future.
Coinciding with the date of our first Conference in 1921, our 50th Congress will take place on 21 and 22 August 2021, not only marking 100 years of the YCL, but also providing a central focus for a year-long calendar of collective campaign work that takes Britain’s Road to Socialism and our Youth Charter into Britain’s schools, workplaces and communities. YCL100 will be a time to celebrate and fight for the dreams of young people in Britain.
Visit ycl100.org.uk today to tell us your stories, donate to our Special Appeal, and join us throughout 2021 as we draw inspiration from our glorious past and call on the youth of Britain to step forward and conquer our even more glorious future.