Obama's Foundation Funded the Former "Communist Party" Leader
By: Matt Hadro
CNSNews.com | Monday, October 27, 2008
A foundation chaired by Barack Obama that was designed to improve
Chicago public schools gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the
Small Schools Workshop, an organization led by former Weatherman Bill
Ayers and by Michael Klonsky, a former chairman of both Students for a
Democratic Society and, according to The Washington Post and New York Times, a group called the “Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).”
"Ayers and an old comrade from SDS, Mike Klonsky, run the Small Schools
Workshop to mentor and provide guidance and technical support to
educators seeking to start small schools,” The Chicago Tribune reported on Sept. 16, 2001.
In a September 6, 1977 article headlined “China’s Ideal American; U.S. Marxist Gets Red-Carpet Welcome in China,” The Washington Post said Klonsky was “chairman of the newly organized Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States of America.”
“Secretary of State Cyrus Vance got a good reception in Peking last
month, but nothing like the red-carpet treatment received by that
distinguished representative of the American people, Michael Klonsky,”
the Post reported, before asking: “Michael who?”
Answering its own question, the Post said:
“Klonsky, as it turns out, is the chairman of the newly organized
Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States of America, an
amalgam of various pro-Peking leftist troops whose memberships are not
thought to total more than a few hundred people--if that. Klonsky
enjoyed a period of notoriety during the late 1960s when he headed
Students for a Democratic Society and, for the first time, brought a
radical Communist rhetoric to that New Left organization.”
The August 26, 1977 New York Times,
citing Klonsky as leader of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist),
reported that he was one of only five Americans other than Secretary of
State Vance and former President Richard Nixon and two Chinese-American
scientists to have met with new Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua
According to publicly available IRS 990 documents, the Small Schools
Workshop that Klonsky ran with Bill Ayers received at least $800,000
from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) between 1998 and 2002. Obama
chaired the CAC.
Klonsky “spent his college years in the late 60’s and early 70’s as an
activist at what is now California State University, Northridge,”
according to a March 5, 2000 story in The Chicago Tribune.
It added: “Mike Klonsky, who teaches education at the University of
Illinois at Chicago, was a member of the Students for a Democratic
Society and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).”
Klonsky in 1968 “was national chairman of the S.D.S. and a demonstration organizer” during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, The New York Times reported on Aug. 26, 1996.
In an Aug. 24, 1996 piece in the Toronto Star
that described Klonsky as an “angry student organizer” during the 1968
Democratic convention, Klonsky was quoted as saying he had entered the
“He heads a project to revitalize Chicago's inner city schools,” the Star
reported. “He shows up at the office in jeans and a T-shirt. He is
speaking out against racism, working with the poor and railing against
the rise of right-wing politics in America.”
“We have to keep our guard up, make sure that progressive people are still active and conscious and aware," Klonsky told the Star. “I’ve become part of the political process.”
When the SDS splintered in 1969 – in what The Chicago Tribune
described as “a showy and disastrous split”--Ayers, his now-wife
Bernardine Dohrn and others formed the violent Weatherman faction.
“I led the fight against the Weatherman,” Klonsky told the Tribune in Sept. 2001. “I wasn’t big on blowing up toilets and statues.”
Klonsky then founded the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (CPML) in June 1977 in the Midwest, according to the Washington Post’s
September 1977 article, after which he traveled to China in July 1977
and met with the Chairman Hua Kuo-feng of the Chinese Communist Party,
who gave him, according to the Post, “what still stands as the warmest reception ever given an American by the new Chinese leader.”
“Vice Premier Li Hsien-nien told Klonsky at the banquet that the
founding of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States
reflects the aspirations of the proletariat and other working people of
the United States and is a new victory for the Marxist-Leninist
movement in the United States,” the Post reported.
continued: “Klonsky replied, according to the Chinese news agency, ‘As
a Marxist-Leninist party in one of the two superpowers, and recognizing
our responsibility to lead the struggle to topple the U.S. imperialist
ruling class, we are determined as well to make a contribution to the
worldwide struggle against the two superpowers, the United States and
Soviet social-imperialism, the main enemies of the peoples of the
The party collapsed in 1981, however.
“Between 1979 and 1981, the CPML, which had become internationally
recognized as China's favorite American party (CPML chairman Mike
Klonsky was repeatedly feted with state-dinner-level visits to
Beijing), dissolved in a rapid series of factional splits and
departures,” Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Garrow wrote in
July 9, 2002 Village Voice review of “Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che” by Max Elbaum.
School reform advocate
In the 1990s, Klonsky became a professor at the University of Illinois
at Chicago, where he and Bill Ayers would join forces in the Small
“We started the Small Schools Workshop in 1991, with the goal of
supporting Chicago’s reform-minded teachers as they tried to create
new, smaller learning communities,” Klonsky and Ayers wrote in a
February 2006 article they jointly authored for Phi Delta Kappan
magazine, titled “Renaissance 2010: The Small Schools Movement Meets the Ownership Society.”
The bio-line for the article specified that Ayers founded the Small
Schools Workshop in 1991 and that Klonsky “has served as the workshop’s
director since 1993.”
“Our vision of small schools was closely connected with issues of social justice, equity, and community,” they wrote.
Klonsky repeatedly has been identified as “co-director” or “director” of the Workshop.
An Aug. 26, 1996 Associated Press story noted: “Mike Klonsky, a former
SDS leader and ’68 protester, is helping reform Chicago’s troubled
public schools as co-director of the Small Schools Workshop at the
University of Illinois-Chicago.”
A March 5, 2000 Chicago Tribune
story said Klonsky “remains active as co-director of the Small Schools
Workshop based at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago).”
A 2006 news release from Nova Southeastern University in Florida,
announced Klonsky’s arrival there, identifying the educator as
“director of the Small Schools Workshop in Chicago, Illinois.”
Of his collaboration with Ayers, Klonsky told the Chicago Tribune
in 2001: “Now we’re on the same train. We still disagree about things,
but . . . as long as we don’t talk about ’69, then we’re OK.”
“We’ve learned how to work within the system. The fight to save and
improve public education embodies all the issues we were fighting for
back then,” he added.
Reached by phone by CNSNews.com, Klonsky declined to be interviewed.
We have implemented a new commenting system. To use it you must login/register with disqus. Registering is simple and can be done while posting this comment itself. Please contact gzenone [at] horowitzfreedomcenter.org if you have any difficulties.
blog comments powered by