Malcolm X On The March On Washington 1964 57 Years Later?

 Malcolm X on the March on Washington, 1964

From The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, 1964. 278-281.

Not long ago, the black man in America was fed a dose of another form of the weakening, lulling and deluding effects of so-called “integration.” It was that “Farce in Washington,” I call it.

The idea of a mass of blacks marching on Washington was originally the brainchild of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters’ A. Philip Randolph. For twenty or more years the March on Washington idea had floated around among Negroes. And, spontaneously, suddenly now, that idea caught on.

Overalled rural Southern Negroes, small town Negroes, Northern ghetto Negroes, even thousands of previously Uncle Tom Negroes began talking “March!”

Nothing since Joe Louis had so coalesced the masses of Negroes. Groups of Negroes were talking of getting to Washington any way they could–in rickety old cars, on buses, hitch-hiking–walking, even, if they had to. They envisioned thousands of black brothers converging together upon Washington–to lie down in the streets, on airport runways, on government lawns–demanding of the Congress and the White House some concrete civil rights action.

This was a national bitterness; militant, unorganized, and leaderless. Predominantly, it was young Negroes, defiant of whatever might be the consequences, sick and tired of the black man’s neck under the white man’s heel.

March on Washington was Deceptive a Farce – Malcolm X 


The white man had plenty of good reasons for nervous worry. The right spark–some unpredictable emotional chemistry–could set off a black uprising. The government knew that thousands of milling, angry blacks not only could completely disrupt Washington–but they could erupt in Washington.

The White House speedily invited in the major civil rights Negro “leaders.” They were asked to stop the planned March. They truthfully said they hadn’t begun it, they had no control over it–the idea was national, spontaneous, unorganized, and leaderless. In other words, it was a black powder keg.

Any student of how “integration” can weaken the black man’s movement was about to observe a master lesson.

The White House, with a fanfare of international publicity, “approved,” “endorsed,” and “welcomed” a March on Washington. The big civil rights organizations right at this time had been publicly squabbling about donations. The New York Times had broken the story. The NAACP had charged that other agencies’ demonstrations, highly publicized, had attracted a major part of the civil rights donations–while the NAACP got left holding the bag, supplying costly bail and legal talent for the other organizations’ jailed demonstrators.

It was like a movie. The next scene was the “big six” civil rights Negro “leaders” meeting in New York City with the white head of a big philanthropic agency. They were told that their money–wrangling in public was damaging their image. And a reported $800,000 was donated to a United Civil Rights Leadership council that was quickly organized by the “big six.”

Now, what had instantly achieved black unity? The white man’s money. What string was attached to the money? Advice. Not only was there this donation, but another comparable sum was promised, for sometime later on, after the March. . . obviously if all went well.

The original “angry” March on Washington was now about to be entirely changed.

Massive international publicity projected the “big six” as March on Washington leaders. It was news to those angry grass-roots Negroes steadily adding steam to their March plans. They probably assumed that now those famous “leaders” were endorsing and joining them.

Invited next to join the March were four famous white public figures: one Catholic, one Jew, one Protestant, and one labor boss.

The massive publicity now gently hinted that the “big ten” would “supervise” the March on Washington’s “mood,” and its “direction.”

The four white figures began nodding. The word spread fast among so-called “liberal” Catholics, Jews, Protestants, and laborites: it was “democratic” to join this black March. And suddenly, the previously March–nervous whites began announcing they were going.

It was as if electrical current shot through the ranks of bourgeois Negroes–the very so-called “middle class” and “upper class” who had earlier been deploring the March on Washington talk by grass-roots Negroes.

But white people, now, were going to march.

Why, some downtrodden, jobless, hungry Negroes might have gotten trampled. Those “integration”-mad Negroes practically ran over each other trying to find out where to sign up. The “angry blacks” March suddenly had been made chic. Suddenly it had a Kentucky Derby image. For the status-seeker, it was a status symbol. “Were you there?” You can hear that right today.

It had become an outing, a picnic.

The morning of the March, any rickety carloads of angry, dusty, sweating small-town Negroes would have gotten lost among the chartered jet planes, railroad cars, and air-conditioned buses. What originally was planned to be an angry riptide, one English newspaper aptly described now as “the gentle flood.”

Talk about “integrated”! It was like salt and pepper. And, by now, there wasn’t a single logistics aspect uncontrolled.

The marchers had been instructed to bring no signs–signs were provided. They had been told to sing one song: “We Shall Overcome.” They had been told how to arrive, when, where to arrive, where to assemble, when to start marching, the route to march. First aid stations were strategically located–even where to faint!

Yes, I was there. I observed that circus. Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing “We Shall Overcome. . .Suum Day. . .” while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against? Who ever heard of angry revolutionists swinging their bare feet together with their oppressor in lily-pad park pools, with gospels and guitars and “I Have A Dream” speeches?

It is fitting that Sharpton & Co. are celebrating the 28 August 1963 March on Washington. Officially hailed as an iconic event of the civil rights movement, the March on Washington was expressly organized to enforce the domination of the “moderate” leaders over the massive and convulsive battles for black rights. Dubbed the “farce on Washington” by Malcolm X, the event was organized in collaboration with the Kennedy White House, which wanted to stop any militant struggle in its tracks as well as to corral votes for the Democratic Party.

The main immediate aim of the March on Washington was to get a civil rights bill passed through pressuring President Kennedy. But when Kennedy called the “representative leaders” into the Oval Office, they quickly found out who was calling the shots. The destination of the march was changed from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial. March leaders deleted a “statement to the president” and a call to confront Congress from the event’s official handbook. Participation was denied to “subversive” groups and speeches were censored. John Lewis, then a leader of the militant Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and today a Georgia Congressman, was not allowed to deliver the part of his remarks criticizing the Democrats. Even the acclaimed writer James Baldwin was censored: Fearing he would extemporize, organizers would not let him read his own speech, which instead was delivered by the actor Burt Lancaster.

On November 10, some two months after the March on Washington, Malcolm X gave his famous “Message to the Grass Roots” speech in Detroit. He pointed out that it was only when militants in Birmingham, Alabama, started fighting back against racist violence and cop attacks that the government started to profess support for black people’s rights. As Malcolm put it: “And right after that Kennedy got on the television and said ‘this is a moral issue.’ That’s when he said he was going to put out a civil rights bill.” With Martin Luther King pursuing his liberal-pacifist strategy while protesters were being brutally beaten, Malcolm deemed him and the other well-known leaders “fallen idols,” a sentiment shared by many activists, both South and North.

And the black masses in America were–and still are–having a nightmare.

Source:

https://college.cengage.com/history/ayers_primary_sources/malcolm_x_washington_1964.htm

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George Jackson Radicalizes the Brothers in Soledad an San Quentin

August 1 1971


After Tad Szulc’s prison conversation with George Jackson in April, he submitted four additional questions to Jackson through one of the lawyers in the case. The questions were these: (1) Aren’t any black people guilty of crimes in American society? (2) Aren’t any of them criminals—for example, a black man who rapes or murders a black woman? (3) What about a black man who guns down a Black Panther? (4) Are you really saying that all criminals are victims of society?

Here is the response that Jackson wrote in longhand on ruled, legal‐size paper:

Nat Turner was asked to confess to crimes of murder and other connected charges before being hung. He indicated that he would so that he could seize the opportunity to make public these sentiments: “I’ve been asked to confess . . . to what??? I simply don’t feel guilty, I have ven tured my life for the deliverance of my kind, I am a willing sacrifice to their cause. I have failed, and if you gentlemen would render me a favor you would take me out and hang me immediately.” Another pointed example of how blacks view what the interpreters of society term crime can be had by recalling a later (1850) statement accredited to Martin Delaney: “. . . my house is my castle. If any man approaches my house in search of a slave I care not whom he may be, whether con stable or sheriff, magistrate or even Judge of the Supreme Court. If he crosses the threshold of my door and I do not lay him a lifeless corpse at my feet I hope the grave may refuse my body a resting place.” Fugitive slaves were criminals!! Anyone offering them aid was also considered part of the criminal act, according to the ac cepted standards of so‐termed Amerikan society. These are parallels from history, valuable in that they have undoubted relevance upon the in grained attitudes of two sections of the people whose real interrelations have changed in name and form only

The question “Aren’t any black people guilty of crimes in Amerikan society?” can best be an swered by stating that the first crime is attempt ing to establish society above society, and then seriously questioning whether blacks have ever been any part of Amerikan society. I say we haven’t. History states that we haven’t. We’re captives of this thing termed Amerikan. As such it is and has always been our obligation to resist; resistance to unjust bonds, organized injustice, can never be interpreted as crime, be it individual resistance or organized mass resistance. Is it crim inal for the black mine worker in the Union of South Africa to steal a diamond when he can, of for the workers in mass to take the mine? Were the Jews of Warsaw 1944–45 criminals?

The men who live above and at the center of Amerikan corporativism understand clearly the issue at question. Through their machinating, any activity can be made to seem criminal. Most crimes are economic in nature—85 per cent, fact. These figures will alter as the revolution upstages, but the underlying motive will still be economic. Consequently the realistic situation is one where a very small knot of men and women are protecting “their” constitutional right to own or control the means of the people’s subsistence by defining criminality. The relatively small per centage of what is left—thrill crimes, or as your question runs: “the Black man who rapes and murders a Black woman.” Every revolutionary theoretician and psychiatrist accepts as elemen tary the tendency of violence to turn inward when the oppressed can find no externalization, “the collective autodestruction” phenomenon. Again the basis is economic oppression or the effects of a dying civilization tied to an economic arrange ment that was decadent 100 years ago. Part of the myth that we must destroy is that “the people” reduced to a state of inexplicable misery still have a choice of action. Invariably their response will take some form of violence. I term this vio lence, individual or collective, not crime but an tithesis. “Violence is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.”

Black August Memorial/Commemoration – Haki Kweli Shakur 


Society above society has had 7,000 years of trial. It has never worked. Pure totalitarianism is impossible—all so‐called criminal action is gov erned by cause and effect, as is everything ma terial. All criminals are victims of the attempt to maintain hierarchy. Any other conclusion de nies original innocence, or in effect advances that men are criminals before they are born.

George Jackson San Quentin Prison June 11, 1971

SAN QUENTIN, Calif.

“THEY walked in goose‐step ping, and when they leave they’ll be wearing the black beret,” said George Jackson of many of his fellow convicts in prisons across the United States.

We were spending an hour to gether in San Quentin’s tiny locked visiting room one lovely day late in April (only I, having strolled past the flower beds between the prison’s outer and inner gates and felt the fresh breeze over San Francisco Bay, knew it was a beautiful day). Jack son, brought from solitary confine ment to meet me, was saying that he thought American prisons were transforming black and even white and brown inmates into politically conscious men and potential revolu tionaries.

George Lester Jackson, San Quen tin Prison No. A‐63837, is a black man. He has light skin, but he wishes it were very dark. He wears an Afro haircut and spectacles. He is a self‐taught revolutionary and a disciple of Mao. He is extremely in tense but so self‐controlled that his speech is soft, even, for instance, when he says the political leadership in the United States must be “neu tralized and corrected as effectively as possible . . . and by correcting I mean killing them.”

Jackson, a product of the black ghettos of Chicago and Watts, will be 30 on Sept. 23. He has spent near ly 11 years serving an indeterminate, one‐year‐to‐life sentence as a “three‐ time loser.” His third conviction was for participating in a $70 armed rob bery at a Los Angeles gasoline sta tion five days before he turned 19. At the age of 15, he served close to a year at California’s Youth Author ity facility at Paso Robles for at tempted robbery at a Los Angeles department store, and at 16, he wound up in a California county jail, charged with another robbery. He escaped, was recaptured in Il linois, then released as a juvenile.
That is George Jackson’s brief but complete biography.

Jackson’s chances of release from prison on the 1960 gas‐station of fense are virtually nil, and he will face death in the gas chamber if he is found guilty of killing a white guard at Soledad Prison in Salinas, Calif., on Jan. 16, 1969. The guard, John Mills, was beaten to death by convicts three days after another white guard shot and killed three black inmates by firing from a tower into the courtyard. The California penal code provides a mandatory death penalty for prisoners serving life sentences who are convicted of assault on a person other than an inmate if such a person dies within a year.

THE trial of Jackson and his two black co‐defendants, John W. Clutch ette, 24, and Fleeta Drumgo, 25, is scheduled to open in San Francisco on Monday, Aug. 9. It has already become a political cause célèbre for black militants, white radicals and some liberals because Jackson, the best known of the three “Soledad Brothers,” has evolved during his prison years into a superbly edu cated and articulate black Com munist “revolutionary”—his descrip tion—and a leader in the quickening process of radicalizing convicts, especially among the racial minorities.

Black August Martyrdom, Fasting, Returning to The Land ( Nation — State ) – Haki Kweli Shakur 


Jackson gained personal fame with the publication last fall of his best selling book, “Soledad Brother—The Prison Letters of George Jackson.” The letters, covering the years 1964 to 1970, are a tortured autobiog raphy, a study in introspection and a revolutionary manifesto addressed to America’s blacks. Jean Genet, the French ex‐convict and leftist literary figure, wrote the introduction, and a cover blurb quotes Huey P. New ton, the Black Panther leader, as having called Jackson “the greatest writer of us all.” He does, indeed, write more enthrallingly than, say, Eldridge Cleaver.

Though Clutchette and Drumgo tend to be overshadowed by Jack son and the publicity surrounding him (for one thing, they are not lifers and do not face death sentences), there is a Soledad Defense Commit tee busy collecting funds and attrac ting attention to the joint case. The campaign, started in California, is becoming nationwide as the trial ap proaches.

But it was the politicizing of con victs that I wanted to discuss with Jackson when I went to San Quen tin. My request for the interview was granted overnight by the prison authorities, who appear to be in creasingly sensitive about the treat ment of their rebellious and suddenly celebrated inmate.

Jackson, 6‐foot‐3 and 215 pounds, keeps in excellent shape through six or seven hours of daily, exercises in his 6‐by‐10‐foot solitary cell because he believes that a good revolutionary “will never be effective unless he has a perfect balance of both physi cal and mental attributes.”

He seemed pleased to have a visitor (I was the first outsider he had seen in four days), and he remarked casually that he was glad to spend at least an hour out of his cell. In solitary confinement since January, 1969, first at Soledad and then at San Quentin, he is locked up 23½ hours a day, with 30 minutes for a shower and outside ex ercise. He may soon enjoy relative freedom, however, for a United States District Court judge, ruling on an appeal by the Soledad Brothers, has de clared that disciplinary hear ings at San Quentin leading to confinement in isolation are unconstitutional.


As we shook hands—he gave me the “revolutionary” handshake — Jackson said: “We can get to be friends right away if you give me a cigarette.” We sat facing each other across the small table, and Jackson lit up, in haling deeply. Chain‐smoking throughout the hour, he talked about politics, prison and how it all happened. Now and then, he opened and closed his huge fists; years of karate exercises had produced hard, blue‐black knots over the knuckles.

Jackson was more than willing to discuss American prisons as schools for political and revolutionary conscious ness. Once a recipient of poli tical education from older black convicts—when he went to Soledad at 19, he said, “I met a brother by the name of George who introduced me to Marx, Engels; made me read the Communist Manifesto first, and we went from there” —Jackson now is an enthusi astic teacher. “The leadership of the black prison popula tion,” he said, “now definitely identifies with Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Eldridge and antifascism.”

He remarked that blacks and poor whites usually enter prison as “right wingers” be cause of their cultural back grounds. The politicized black prisoners immediately focus on the new arrivals because, Jackson said, “we attempt to transform the black criminal mentality into a black revo lutionary mentality.” In a let ter to one of his attorneys in April, he wrote:

“The blacks are fast losing the last of their restraints. Growing numbers of blacks are openly passed over when paroles are considered. They have become aware that their only hope lies in resistance. The holds are beginning to slip away. . . .Most of today’s black convicts have come to understand that they are the most abused victims of an unrighteous order. Up until now, the prospect of parole has kept us from confronting our captors with any real determination. But now, with the living conditions deter iorating and with the sure knowledge that we are slated for destruction, we have been transformed into an implac able army of liberation.

“These prisons have always borne a certain resemblance to Dachau and Buchenwald, places for the bad niggers, Mexicans and poor whites. But the last 10 years have brought an increase in the percentage of blacks for crimes that can clearly be traced, political‐economic causes There are still some blacks here who consider themselves criminals—but not many. Believe me, my friend, with the time and incentive that these brothers have to read, study and think, you will find no class or category more aware, more embittered, desperate or dedicated to the ultimate remedy—revolution. The most dedicated, the best of our kind—you’ll find them in the Folsoms, San Quentins and Soledads.”

I had read these passages in Jackson’s book, and I wanted to know whether the politi cizing in the California prisons had spread since he wrote about it a year ago. Jackson leaned forward and lit an other cigarette.

“With the blacks, the peo ple that I am more familiar with, I would say most em phatically yes. Prior to the entrance of the Black Pan thers on the political scene, they were locked in the right wing version of the national questions. . . .As far as I am concerned, this is frightening and reactionary; but it is political, and just thinking in that area leads to other thoughts that one day become progressive.

“In other words, all the fel lows I have met over the years have gone through changes, have gone through stages from right‐wing cul tural and national thinking into Pantheresque‐type think ing and activity. The Panthers have a very profound influ ence and effect on the prison population because there are so many of them here and because the political animal, the political teacher, must teach, and the blacks have been responsive.” Prison administrators agree that the Black Panthers are organizing in a vast number of penal institutions. This is especially meaningful in Cali fornia, where, according to official figures, the prison population on April 30 was 29.8 per cent black, although blacks accounted for only 7.5 per cent of the state’s total population. Chicanos repre sented 16.8 per cent of the 28,000 inmates in California prisons, but less than 4 per cent of the population.

IN Jackson’s view, the em erging new relationship be tween the prison authorities and black inmates is not only one of the keeper and the kept and of traditional “white racism,” but of political and ideological antagonism as well. This, he believes, is a reaction to the black politiciz ing and convict efforts to unite across racial lines des pite virtual segregation in prison blocks and cell tiers.

“In Folsom and Soledad,” Jackson said, “black, brown and white have all gotten to gether and attempted to es tablish unitarian conduct. Here in San Quentin, almost the reverse is happening be cause of the strong control that the highly politicized local constabulary has over the joint.”

Pointing to the locked steel door behind him, Jackson said, “Meme is a large segment of right‐wing ‘intellectuals’ and thinkers and doers among the staff right here.” He reeled off a list of the top prison officials and said: “They all belong to a highly political minded right‐wing group that promotes certain racial unrest and racial strife that precludes any sort of unitarian conduct among the convicts here. Pre cise incidents, the killings and knifings [of inmates] of this last month are the product of this right‐wing element’s ma chinations. They send a few convict goons to start trouble, racial strife, in order to quell the new unitarian currents that have been established over the last year or 18 months. . . . They put them [white convicts] right down the tier with us with the fur ther assumption that they can manipulate them into attack ing us by using them against us.”

Jackson further believes that there is a clear right wing orientation among the “poor white” convicts, and that it is being fueled by the prison authorities. “There are really strong right‐wing ‘in tellectuals’ in here, and we have some here right now, and we debate and argue heatedly all night. I hate them and they hate me.” He thinks that the large number of blacks in California pris ons and their political mili tancy are beginning to make converts out of white inmates. “Politically, of course, we out weigh them. We win in the end.”

I asked how he goes about radicalizing the white prison ers.

“It’s a complicated, complex relationship,” he replied with a little smile. “I start the con versations most of the time. They’ll say something so ri diculous that I just can’t understand, like the blanket indictment of the Jews. All Jews are involved in a plot that went way back 1,000 or 1,500 years ago, they say. And they build economic theories and economic plots on it, really psychopathic. They say things like that, and I know the next thing coming out of their mouths will be a pack of lies concerning blacks, the blacks and the Jews. So I stop them, and I contest most of what they say, and I send them down literature to read. . . . Do they read it? They read it and twist it to fit into their conception, and the debate goes on. . . . In several debates that center around facts and figures we outweigh them be cause they don’t know. That’s the whole point.”

Jackson paused and squinted narrowly at me. “They walked in goose‐stepping, and when they leave they’ll be wearing the black beret.” CALIFORNIA prison auth orities do not actually expect the convicts to come out in droves wearing the beret of the Black Panthers, but they are beginning to recognize the politicizing phenomenon de veloping in American penal institutions.

James Park, San Quentin’s associate warden, referred in a recent official report to what he called “the new re bellion” in the prisons, noting that traditional convict griev ances were being “translated into a well‐planned and so phisticated attack on state laws and policies.” He empha sized that “the intake of young inmates in the next few years will include many who had been exposed to the con cepts of social revolution.” Park has discovered the im portance of revolutionary lit erature in the political educa tion of the convicts. Since prison authorities have not been able to control or dis courage the flow of such lit erature to the prisoners — some comes as part of the normal contraband, some is slipped to inmates by visiting relatives and friends and some is simply tolerated because the administrators do not want First Amendment suits— Park, among others, has con cluded that wardens, too, should read books on revolu tionary technique. He wrote in his report that the texts “may be useful in under standing the thinking of in mate leaders.”

Jessica Mitford, who inter viewed Jackson on the literary aspects of his letters shortly before I talked to him—a re port on their conversation appeared in The Times Book Review June 13—has written that radical and revolutionary ideologies are seeping into the prisons. She noted that, in ad dition to books, inmates often manage to receive under ground publications in their cells (I know that the Black Panther newspaper is some how available in California prisons), and she stressed that “a new and more sophisti cated type of offender is entering the prison system: the civil disobedient, the col legiate narcotics user, the black or brown militant.” And my own observations bear out Miss Mitford’s conclusion that “there is a growing alliance between these prisoners and political activists on the out side.”

Militant black and chicano organizations are increasingly establishing contacts with con victs. On the day I visited Jackson at San Quentin, a number of chicano women, some with small children, filled the waiting room. They were militants seeking to show their support for prisoners brought from the California Conservation Center in Susan ville after a series of riots. The Susanville center is built around a forestry camp and allows relative freedom, and the authorities decided that the “trouble‐makers” should be transferred to the maxi mum‐security facility at San Quentin. The militants wasted no time in approaching the Susalville men on “political visits.”

THE convict ‐ politicizing process obviously meshes with the growing opinion among prisoners and outside radicals including ideologically moti ated lawyers and criminolo gists, that most crimes com mitted in the United States, particularly by minorities and poor whites, are essentially “social” and “political” in nature. This is so, the argu ment runs, because such crimes derive from sociologi cal and political conditions in the country. Combined with the massive arrests of civil rights, antiwar and other dis sidents in the last decade, this philosophy has led to the emergence of the “political social prisoner.” Policemen and more traditional judges and lawyers see in the phe ncunenon room for vast abuses, pointing out that it is easy to rationalize almost any crime through the social con text.

But John Thorne, one of Jackson’s attorneys, argued as we sat in his antique‐filled office in San Jose that “so ciety has created the ghettos” and thus “forced the people to act illegally.” Therefore, he said, the convicts “become political prisoners” and “pris ons always produce revolu tions.” Thorne, a big, bearded man who wore dungarees and a plaid shirt, said his defense of Jackson would be purely political: he will present his client as a “revolutionary” victimized by the system.

Jackson, by the way, had no lawyer during his first nine years behind bars. At his trial on the gas‐station rob bery charge, a court‐appointed lawyer advised him to plead guilty to save the county money and, in exchange, trust the judge for a lenient sen tence. Instead, he received the one‐year‐to‐life term. Only af ter the publicity about the Soledad affair in 1969 did two lawyers, Thorne and Mrs. Fay Stender, become separately in terested in Jackson’s case. Thorne, who with his two partners is what Jackson calls a “people’s lawyer,” imme diately sensed that he had a political case on his hands. It was he who asked Jackson on my behalf to write the short essay at the beginning of this article, delving more deeply into the concept of “black politicl crimes.”
With the recent release of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, Jackson and Angela Davis, whose fate has become curiously intertwined with his, are the best known “political prisoners” in the country. Following a fervent corre spondence between them—as much political as personal and emotional—Jackson and Miss Davis met for the first time on July 8 at the San Rafael prison and again on July 15. Miss Davis is awaiting trial on charges of having provided the weapons used by Jona than Jackson, George’s 17‐ year‐old brother, in a shoot out in a San Rafael courtroom on Aug. 7, 1970.

Jonathan, whom George had educated into a revolutionary with letters from prison (he also succeeded after years of writing home in radicalizing his lower‐middle‐class parents and one of his sisters), died in the courtroom battle. Strange ly, George had prophesied his brother’s death in the service of the “revolution.” The youth invaded the court during a hearing for three black San Quentin inmates, not including his brother, and handed them weapons. He announced to the startled courtroom: “All right, gentlemen, I’m taking over now.” As he left with the three Inmates and five hos tages—one of them the judge, who was killed moments later —Jonatnan demanded that the Soledad Brothers be released within 30 minutes.

“Jackson’s foremost conclusion after years of reading and writing is that there is a need for violent black revolution.”

After the shootout, of course, Jonathan joined his brother as a folk hero of the black militants, something of a martyr in the cause of “political prisoners.” To George, he represents “black pride.” On the day I visited him in San Quentin, George had learned that Jonathan’s girl friend had given birth to a baby Jonathan had fathered. “I am an uncle,” George said, and, though be has other nephews and nieces, his in tense pleasure was obvious.

JACKSON is a “political prisoner” because he has de cided to be one. Sentenced to the indeterminate term for a minor felony (no one was hurt in the robbery) when he was a man‐child of 19, he pro claimed himself a “political prisoner” as the result of years of intensive self‐educa tion, most of it during his nearly eight years in solitary confinement. He read St. Augustine because of his early interest in morals. Then the classic economists: Malthus, Ricardo and Adam Smith. Afterward came the philo sophical and revolutionary lit erature: Marx, Lenin, Engels, Hegel, Trotsky, Mao Tse‐tung, Ho Chi Minh, General Giap, Nkrumah, Fanon, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. But there were also Rafael Sabatini, Jack London and Harriet Beecher Stowe (for “Uncle Tom”), and James Baldwin, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King (whom he despised in life for his pacifism and came to admire in death) to get a better understanding of the American black problem. Wil liam Du Bois served to ac quaint Jackson with radical Africa. His vast literary diet is supplemented with sub scriptions to Ramparts, The New Republic and The New York Times. He has taught himself Spanish and has be gun to study Swahili, Arabic and Chinese.

Jackson’s foremost conclu sion after his years of read ing and writing is that there is a need for a violent black revolution in the United States to do away with capitalism and “American imperialism.” He has expounded such revo lutionary views in the ava lanche of letters from prison, all of them read and often censored by the authorities, and in conversations with visitors, presumably monitored by officials.

Inevitably, prison authori ties took him at his word; they accepted his revolu tionary self‐identification. And having forced his keepers to regard him as a “political prisoner,” Jackson is con vinced that his militancy has deprived him of parole in the last 10 years. He also thinks that the Soledad murder charge was intended to put him out of the way.


Under the system of inde terminate sentences, Califor nia’s Adult Authority reviews each prisoner’s case annually to decide whether he should be released after serving the minimum sentence. In Jack son’s case, the minimum was one year. The original purpose of indeterminate sentences, with statutory minimums and maximums, was to encourage the quick rehabilitation of prisoners, not to tie them to fixed terms. But in practice the California system became an arbitrary way of punishing convicts who do not behave. The system has been de scribed as “racist” and cruel, most recently by “black caucus” members of the California State Legislature Who inspected Soledad a year ago. Jackson is certain that he has been denied parole be cause of his political activi ties. Prison authorities have no comment on this allega tion, and I was not permitted to read his “central file,” which includes charges against him by prison officials and guards.

I asked Jackson under what conditions he may hope for a parole, assuming that he is cleared of the Soledad murder charges. “I would have to be an old man and very decrepit, perhaps blind, an amputee,” he said. Then he added: “I haven’t thought of parole in years. The portions of my book that you read where I’m talking about parole, they’re all deceptive. I knew these things were going through the censors; they are all deceptive, things that I was using to help to get them off my back for a while, to make them think that I was holding out hope of parole, but I knew I’d never get paroled, never. . . .I can’t live up to the expectations of prison life. I never will.

“The whole truth,” he said quietly, “is that I would hope to escape.”

Jackson’s lawyers have raised a question that finds no immediate answer in the California prison system: Is Jackson, though he first went to prison on a felony charge, now being kept there indefi nitely because he has made himself into a “revolutionary”? That question has implications that go far beyond the Jack son case. It relates, it would appear, to a whole set of new concepts emerging these days from radicalized American prisons!

Source: NY Times


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August Third Collective 8/3 NAIM — Hunger Strikes, Solitary Confinement Black August Founded By Sanyika Shakur

Black August Third Collective & Prison The Struggle: I am focused/ I am productive/ I am cooperative/ I am flexible/ I am empowered/ I am confident

Sanyika Shakur, August Third Collective, On July 1 Hunger Strike & The Treatment of Prisoners for having Comrad George Jackson’s Material

i was given an indeterminate SHU term in 1989, for being a threat to the institutional security. The CDC cited writings i had from Comrade-Brotha George, exercising in military fashion with known revolutionaries & conducting joint military manoeuvres with other formations in the New Afrikan Independence Movement. i came up for an “inactive” review in 2008, but the political police said my name was found on a roster of known & active members of various formations in the cell of a New Afrikan on San Quentin’s death row. For this & writing “Black August” in a letter, i was given an additional six years in the SHU, on an indeterminate status. i have, like others in the SHU class, stood firm thru it all & will continue to do so until i am no more. We of the August Third Collective of the New Afrikan Independence Movement will join in & support the July 1st hungerstrike in resistance to the draconian treatment meted out against all SHU prisoners.

Who Are You?

We are the ones who refused to be captured in Afrika without a fight, who staged daring raids on enemy supply lines and brought our nationals back to freedom. We are the ones who made longer, sharper spears, thicker shields and turned our backs on collaborating kings.

We are the ones who, on the high seas enroute to the “New World,” brought new forms of combat to bear on our oppressors. We are the ones who couldn’t be broken, who kept our languages in circulation, our spirits alive and our minds free of foreign gods and hostile demons. We are those who, on a move, became Maroons, who settled the Geechi Islands, fought alongside the indigenous nations, until we, too, became indigenous.

We are the ones who couldn’t be broken, who kept our languages in circulation, our spirits alive and our minds free of foreign gods and hostile demons.

We are the ones who, in the midst of the first Two Thousand Seasons (a thousand dry, a thousand wet), birthed new ideas of national existence and national continuity.

We are the ones that whispered, “Strike now!” to Nat Turner, who plotted and planned with Denmark Vesey and Gabriel Prosser. We are of the same blood as General Harriet Tubman.

We are the ones who didn’t need to be freed by the 13th Amendment because we had never been anyone’s slave. We are the same ones who laughingly rejected the 14th Amendment to make us citizens of the oppressor nation. And, when the so-called Negroes fell for the farce of “Reconstruction,” we had long been organized and waiting for the Klan.

When bourgeois Negroes formed the NAACP, we formed the African Blood Brotherhood and Universal Negro Improvement Association. When the White Citizens Councils attacked the Civil Rights Movement, we struck back as the Deacons for Defense. We are the ones who left the right wing reactionary Nation of Islam with Malcolm X.

When the White Citizens Councils attacked the Civil Rights Movement, we struck back as the Deacons for Defense.

We are the ones who organized the ghettos, from California to Philly, as the Revolutionary Action Movement. We were in Monroe with Robert and Mable Williams. We sat at the feet of Queen Mother Moore, Ella Baker and Dara Abubakari. We are the ones who adopted the attacking Black Panther as our symbol, those who stared down pigs, created Black Student Unions and fed free breakfast to children. We sharpened the contradiction.

We are the ones who, realizing the neo-colonial nature of the term “Negro,” changed our national identity to Black. When that term, too, had been co-opted by opportunists and counter revolutionaries, we are the ones who converged on Detroit 500 deep and brought into existence the New Afrikan national identity. We are the ones who said Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina is the national territory.

We are the ones who breathed life into the Black Liberation Army, who proceeded to combat our historical enemies from coast to coast and all areas in between. We were on the roof in New Orleans with Mark Essex, in South Central L.A. with Geronimo ji Jaga, in El-Malik at the Capitol with the RNA-II. We are the ones who were in Chicago with Santa Bear and Spurgeon Jake Winters; in Attica with L.D. and Sam Melville. We were in Soledad with George, Fleeta and John; in the Marin County Courthouse with Jonathan, William, James and Ruchell. We are the ones who were with George, Hugo and Bato in San Quentin.

We were in Soledad with George, Fleeta and John; in the Marin County Courthouse with Jonathan, William, James and Ruchell. We are the ones who were with George, Hugo and Bato in San Quentin.

We are the ones from the George L. Jackson Assault Squad of the BLA in San Francisco. We are the ones in both Olugbala and Amistad Collectives of the BLA. And that was us in the Five Percenter-BLA units, too. We invaded the tombs to free our comrades and went underwater to assault Riker’s Island as well. We are the ones who made Nicky Barnes run to the Italian mob for protection.

We are the ones who were in support of the United Freedom Front, the May 19th Communists Organization, the George Jackson Brigade, the Sam Melville-Jonathan Jackson Unit, and the Prairie Fire/John Brown Anti-Klan Committee. We are the ones who introduced comrade-sista Assata Shakur to Fidel and Raul. We hooked Robert Williams up with Mao and Chou En Lai

We are the ones who defended the people in a raging gun battle against pigs at Aretha Franklin’s father’s church in Detroit. We are the ones who brought you Kuwasi Balagoon, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Nehanda Abioudun, Fulani Sunni Ali, Safiya Bhukari, Yassmyn Fula, Afeni Shakur, Sundiata Acoli, Maliki Shakur Latine, Sekou Odinga, Jalil Muntaqim, Herman Bell and all the other stalwart standard bearers of liberation.

We are the ones who speak truth to power, who practice our theories, who are the messages we bring. We are the ones in the Provisional Government Republic of New Afrika, Peoples Center Council, The Peoples Revolutionary Leadership Council, New Afrikan Peoples Organization, New Afrikan Panthers, New Afrikan Scouts, Spear and Shield Collective, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, August Third Collective, New Afrikan Security Forces, Revolutionary Armed Task Force, New Afrikan Peoples Liberation Army and New Afrikan Women for Self-Determination. And we’ll be in many more to come.

We are the ones who support Puerto Rican Independence, the Mexicano/Chicano Movement, the American Indian Movement and all other revolutionary struggles for freedom against capitalist imperialism. We are those who stand firm against patriarchy, heterosexualism and liberalism. We are those that study Butch Lee, J. Sakai, Owusu, Yaki Yakubu, Chokwe Lumumba, Makungu Akinyele, Che, Cabral, Fanon and Dr. John Henrik Clarke. We are the ones who know that “revolution without women ain’t happenin’”!

We are the ones the enemy calls, “criminals,” “terrorists,” “gangs,” “militants,” “leftists,” “separatists,” “radicals,” “feminists,” “worst of the worst,” “America’s Most Wanted” and enemy combatants. Whatever.

We call ourselves Humans. We are New Afrikan revolutionaries. Those who weren’t afraid.

Who are you?

Free the Land!

 

 

 

Sanyika Shakur Transformation — The Shu Solitary Confinement, POWS PPS, NAIM 

 

Fred Hampton Assassination & Political Prisoners Clip – Sanyika Shakur/Monster Kody 

Who Are New Afrikan Political Prisoners of War 

Black August Commemoration Month 


Rebuild! Sanyika Shakur, August Third Collective/NAPLA

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#AugusThirdCollective #newafrikanindependencemovement
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Another Country July 2020

Image: Mikel Jaso 

Elias Rodriques
No. 52
July 2020
Another Country

A new volume explores the hidden history of Black Power



THE LONG CRISIS that was the Middle Passage and slavery gave rise to dreams of a black republic in the New World that date as far back as the seventeenth century. In Brazil, enslaved people fled their masters and formed fugitive communities as early as 1605; by 1630, they merged those collectives to form Palmares, which survived autonomously until the 1690s. In Jamaica, there were rebellions of enslaved people throughout the seventeenth century, the most famous of which joined with free black people to form a state in Cockpit Country. And in 1804, enslaved people overthrew French rule and gained independence in Haiti. They may not have experienced freedom while enslaved, but they knew what they wanted, and they took it.

Those dreams were hemispheric, leading to what some called “maroon communities”; they persisted in the United States even after emancipation. In the late nineteenth century, black people sought to create self-sufficient black communities in Nicodemus, Kansas (founded in 1877), and Mound Bayou, Louisiana (founded in 1887), among other places. In the twentieth century, activists carrying forward the dream of black sovereign territories set their sights on bigger patches of land. In the 1910s and 1920s, Marcus Garvey argued that black people in the United States ought to leave the country and form their own nation in Africa. In roughly the same period, the Communist Party theorized that majority black regions constituted a colony that ought to be independent. While the influence of both waned in the midcentury, Garvey’s pessimism toward black life under United States rule and the CPUSA’s push for self-determination lived on in several forms, including petitions to the United Nations for African American independence and calls for Black Revolution.

Few organizations went further in turning that idea into practice than the New Afrika Independence Movement, a black nationalist group founded in Detroit in 1968, two years after Stokely Carmichael called for Black Power. In March of that year, NAI activists signed a Declaration of Independence, renounced their American citizenship, and tried to secure international recognition for an African American country spanning from Louisiana to the Carolinas: the Republic of New Afrika. Even though their country was never recognized, and even though the United States government surveilled and attacked the citizens on several occasions, the New Afrikans performed many local-level functions of a state: running schools, marrying people, and holding political forums. Through these efforts, Edward Onaci argues in his new history Free the Land, “New Afrikans lived their evolving interpretations of the ideas that drove their movement from the Black Power era and beyond.” In so doing, they developed a model of politics without independence, of statehood without sovereignty, that survived through decades of assault.

In Free the Land, Edward Onaci draws on RNA publications, interviews conducted with surviving members, and other archival materials to trace the RNA’s lineage from slavery to the twentieth century. As descendants of the enslaved, the New Afrikans believed the United States was founded upon the exclusion of black people. Its violent post-Reconstruction history only furnished further proof that African Americans would always be “captives” in the nation, forced by law to become citizens of a country that did not provide for them. And its imperial ventures abroad and indigenous genocide at home convinced the New Afrikans they wanted no part in the American project, even if it would have them. Just as Garvey’s pan-Africanism and the CPUSA’s anti-colonialism stood in solidarity with international allies, so did the New Afrikans. Liberating black America and developing New Afrikan culture, in their eyes, would wound the United States directly and thereby support the global anti-colonialist cause.

Because the United States was fundamentally white supremacist, they believed that recovering and reclaiming black culture was a failed project without independence and land. As one of their flyers put it,

Black [P]ower means more than wearing Afros, dashikis, taking or teaching a course in Afro-American history, using traditional names and calling each other brother and sister . . . Black [P]ower means having your own nation.

Turning away from movements for inclusion, including contemporaneous Civil Rights movements, the New Afrikans decided to flee America by founding a new nation within it.

Black People Themselves
In Onaci’s account, one person carried the dream of an African American nation from the early twentieth century through to the RNA: “Queen Mother” Audley Moore. Born in 1898 in New Iberia, Louisiana, Moore was raised by her grandmother, who was born enslaved. To help out her family, Moore dropped out of school early and worked, educating herself by reading Frederick Douglass. At a young age, she traveled to New Orleans to see Marcus Garvey speak and then joined Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association, which urged black people in the Americas to return to Africa to form a country. After moving to Harlem in 1922, she continued on in the organization until Garvey was deported in 1927. Moore then joined the Communist Party and supported its Black Belt thesis, which argued that majority black regions in the South should self-determine. As Harry Haywood later put it, in his 1948 book Negro Liberation, “One can say that the Black Belt is a kind of ‘internal colony’ of American imperialism, made to function mainly as the raw material appendage of the latter.” The only means of severing black people from American’s violence, consequently, was self-government.

Though Moore left the Communist Party in 1950, citing its inability to confront racism and sexism, she continued to carry forward the fight for African American independence. In 1957 and 1959, Moore presented petitions to the United Nations that argued African Americans were akin to other colonized people and therefore had the right to self-determine under UN law. After the international arena failed her, she turned to black people themselves. In 1962, Moore and members of the African Descendants Nationalist Independence Partition signed a Declaration of Independence from the United States and demanded reparations that would form the foundation for their new nation.

Even as many fought for integrated education and housing throughout the twentieth century, a chorus of separatists continued calling for an African American state. When the struggle reached Detroit in the 1960s, the city’s history of black political organizing and as birthplace of the Nation of Islam set the stage for the creation of the Republic of New Afrika. Since its founding in 1930, the Nation of Islam had critiqued white supremacy vehemently, though its religious and political beliefs placed members on the fringes of civil rights organizing. As they grew in the midcentury, according to one New Afrikan, it was at the urging of Moore that the Nation began advocating for black separatism.

When Malcolm X gave three lectures in Detroit in 1963, he called for black nationalism, from an international perspective. In “Message to the Grassroots,” he said,

When you see that you’ve got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. And once you see how they got theirs straight, then you know how you can get yours straight.

In Russia, China, France, and even America, when “the land-less” faced the problems afflicting African Americans contemporaneously, they revolted against “the landlords” and fought for independence. Like Africans taking part in revolutions across the ocean, Malcolm X urged black people to fight for a nation in America, keeping alive a dream that reached back through Garvey to the enslaved.

Motor City Burning
Sitting in the audience as Malcolm X called for Black Revolution were two brothers who had helped organize the event and would go on to help found the RNA: Gaidi and Imari Obadele. Born and raised in Philadelphia, the two became politically active at a young age. While in the Air Force in World War II, Gaidi resisted discrimination in the armed forces until his dishonorable discharge; Imari joined the NAACP and exposed racism as a journalist. In 1950, Gaidi moved to Detroit, where he gained a reputation for defending “street brothers” in court, and Imari joined him. There, they collaborated in several civil rights organizations. In the 1960s, Gaidi’s travels in newly independent Ghana helped to move him toward fighting for self-determination, but seeing Malcolm speak was the tipping point for both brothers. They came to believe his “primary concern was to create a sovereign black nation that would help Third World revolutionaries destroy global oppression.” In 1967, two years after Malcolm’s death, the brothers founded the Malcolm X Society to fight for African American independence.

New Afrikans believed that recovering and reclaiming black culture was a failed project without independence and land.

The 1967 Detroit Rebellion convinced the Obadeles that black people were ready to fight for a country. The violence began when Detroit PD raided an unlicensed bar, found about eighty people celebrating the return of two black soldiers, and decided to arrest everyone. A crowd gathered, someone threw a bottle, and the uprising began. Over the next four days, violent confrontations took place between black residents and the police, resulting in about forty deaths, 7,200 arrests, and $40 million in property damage. To the Obadeles, the message of the violence was that the fight for inclusion was over. The revolution had begun.

Hoping to harness the fervor they witnessed in the uprising, the Obadeles and Moore organized the National Black Government Convention in Detroit in 1968 “to determine the destiny of the ‘captive black nation’ in America.” Taking place over the course of two days, the conference was attended by five hundred activists, including the writer Amiri Baraka, the organizer Betty Shabazz, several Black Panthers, and others. On the first day, participants discussed citizenship, international human rights law, and women’s equality, among other things, in the hopes of developing principles on which to found their government. On the second day, they ratified a Declaration of Independence, demanded reparations from the United States, and created a provisional government for the RNA. Their strategy was clearly influenced by Moore, the first person to sign the 1968 Declaration. Following her lead once more, they turned to international law: citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees people the right to change nationality, many renounced their American citizenship and became New Afrikans.

Grab This Land
Months after the 1968 Declaration, the RNA’s provisional government requested a meeting with Secretary of State Dean Rusk to negotiate the acquisition of southern land. As expected, Rusk refused to meet. “The anticipated response to the letter,” writes Onaci, “would serve as more proof to African Americans that they could not rely on the U.S. government for liberation. Liberation was something for black people to take on their own terms.” At the same time, the RNA formed the Black Legion, an army in which most citizens, regardless of gender, were expected to serve, though its exact size remains unclear. (Assistant Attorney General Walter Yeagley claimed the force was not legal but never brought a suit against them.) While frontline warfare never took place, the Legion’s founding nonetheless signaled the RNA was prepared to defend their citizens and take the land by any means necessary.

Even when politics seems to be about something as traditional as acquiring land, it is also about the unseen labor of building a movement and about the transformation of the lives of its constituents.

Though their independence was not recognized, the RNA nonetheless tried to fulfill all the features of a government. In Detroit, they ran political education courses and operated the Frederick Douglas [sic] Shooting Club to prepare black people to use firearms and to join the Legion. They met with representatives from the USSR and Sudan, among other countries, in the hopes of gaining international allies. And, in The New African Ujamaa, they developed an economic plan based upon Julius K. Nyere and the Tanzania African National Union’s vision of socialism, which aimed to limit personal wealth and advocated for every person to work in fields that bettered their country. All the while, the RNA continued to advocate for black community control, resulting in a 1969 petition to create a black court system and a Black City Council in Detroit that would oversee the police and banking.

All told, in their early months, the RNA attempted to widen their base, prepare their citizens for independence, and help black people govern their communities. The United States, in turn, persecuted the RNA. In May of 1969, when Gaidi was defending a client in court, a Michigan judge claimed he could not practice law nor hold membership in the State Bar because he had renounced American citizenship. While Gaidi was eventually allowed to litigate cases, the altercation foreshadowed future U.S. responses to their project.

Even more explosive than Gaidi’s court challenge was the New Bethel Incident of March 29, 1969. Members of the RNA had long been surveilled by the FBI, but tensions came to a head at the celebration of the Republic’s first anniversary. According to newspapers, armed Legionnaires were standing guard outside the building when police officers questioned them and the guards reportedly shot at the officers. Shortly thereafter, forty to fifty cops raided the building and fired at the two hundred attendees, including children. By day’s end, four attendees were injured and 143 arrested. Several were Legionnaires, whom the police then tortured. “As a captive nation,” writes Onaci, “they were unable to exercise their beliefs as fully as they desired.” They may have considered themselves RNA citizens, but they bore all the vulnerabilities of African American citizens.

State violence sowed division amongst the RNA. Following the New Bethel incident, Gaidi and his supporters thought fighting a war against the United States would be too dangerous and wanted to focus on educating the masses. Imari and his supporters, on the other hand, thought war unavoidable and believed their only hope of safety lay in moving south to majority black communities. “Disagreement over this relocation,” writes Onaci, “soon caused the Provisional Government to implode.” When they failed to ratify a constitution, they found themselves in crisis. Eventually, Imari’s opponents resigned from their positions and he became president. Facing no further internal opposition, Imari and the RNA moved to Mississippi in 1971, acquired land that they named El Malik, and declared it the capital.

Importantly, El Malik was not, in their eyes, simply an extension of America’s settler colonialism. In the “Code of Umoja,” the provisional government decreed that its policy would be “to negotiate with the American Indian Nations” for land “in the spirit of justice, brotherhood, and mutual revolutionary commitment to the human and natural rights of all oppressed nations in North America.” In other words, El Malik was only the first step in reclaiming the continent for oppressed people.

American Terror
The New Afrikans, unfortunately, could not escape state intervention in the South. Early in 1971, the FBI sanctioned KKK harassment of New Afrikans. Months later, in August, the FBI and the police descended on the New Afrikans before dawn, shooting teargas into one home. The New Afrikans shot back. Authorities eventually arrested several RNA citizens, including Imari Obadele. “As young people,” one New Afrikan said of their confrontations, “we weren’t prepared to go up against the country the way we did.” The state took advantage of the RNA’s lack of resources, experience, and international support to hinder their nation building.

Following the shootout, the provisional government increasingly focused on the everyday practices of a nation. They dedicated many resources to freeing the incarcerated. In 1971, in an attempt to defend the RNA members arrested in the FBI raid, lawyers argued that the RNA “is a nation separate from, though held captive by, the United States of America.” In their eyes, U.S. courts held no jurisdiction over the incarcerated New Afrikans. The lawyers’ efforts failed. With Imari in jail, power transferred to three leaders, one of whom was Chokwe Lumumba. Having studied the Palestinian and Vietnamese liberation movements, Lumumba and his ilk came to believe that the group needed to focus on educating its people.

Accordingly, the new leaders expanded their grassroots efforts. In 1974, they founded a school that taught black children about their heritage. A year later, they educated New Afrikans about the state’s elections as a means of increasing engagement. Of such work, the New Afrikan Marilyn Killingham once said, “I don’t consider the movement to be work. It’s a duty . . . You owe it to yourself to get respect.” They also continued their solidarity campaigns, printing articles supporting the Puerto Rican and Native American liberation movements in The New Afrikan. At the United States’ bicentennial celebration in Philadelphia, New Afrikans marched side by side with Native American activists and other black liberation forces. Under the new leadership, the fight for New Afrikan sovereignty increasingly became a fight to build a mobilized base and win the support of Third World liberationists.

But the 1976 elections revealed two problems: a lack of clear leadership (elected leaders sometimes did not assume their responsibilities or missed meetings) and a lack of an educated voter base, despite Lumumba’s efforts. The two resulted in a government that struggled to run itself, leading to a second constitutional crisis in 1977, when there were too few members at a meeting to make a quorum. Organizing from prison, Imari Obadele attempted to wrest power from Lumumba. Already made fragile by factionalism, the RNA was further weakened in 1981, when an armed force of New Afrikans and others attempted to “expropriate” a Brinks truck. After the police apprehended those involved in the incident, federal agents arrested New Afrikans across the nation (as many lived in places other than the South), including, temporarily, several children. Of such repression, one New Afrikan said,

The message is this: You cannot oppose the policies of the U.S. government, you cannot resist these governmental declarations of war, and if you do we will send an army to terrorize you, your family, and any of your supporters.

While many of the arrested eventually went free, the FBI’s press releases and media coverage of the incident succeeded in smearing the RNA’s name. After the fallout, when the RNA factions reconciled and formed a new government in 1984, the damage was already done: several New Afrikans left to form other groups. Like many Black Power organizations, victimized by years of state persecution, they found themselves depleted in the mid-1980s. But they lived on in new forms, in other organizations, and in the persistence of their goals.

Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone
In Free the Land, Onaci reorients histories of African American territorial nationalism. Lesser historians might record the RNA’s history as one of failure, a group who tried and failed to secure sovereignty. Instead, Onaci foregrounds that the Black Power group most committed to independence—the RNA—also worked toward and succeeded at changing New Afrikans’ everyday lives. As Onaci writes,

When New Afrikans renamed themselves and their children, when they chose a name for their nation and their territory, and when they reimagined the potential of themselves and their geographies, they shaped identity around a political culture that was invested with the power and responsibility to create a new society.

He argues that the state prevented the RNA from becoming a nation, but their transformation of black lives ensured that black nationalism could live on.

By focusing on the changes in New Afrikan lives, Onaci foregoes the well-laid path of histories of the Black Power movement focused on leaders like Huey Newton and Stokely Carmichael. As political scientist Cedric Robinson argued in The Terms of Order and as literary critic Erica Edwards did in Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership, African American politics tends to be understood in terms of charismatic male leaders, like Martin Luther King Jr. The result is that the many people who make up a movement tend to be forgotten. Black feminist historians like Robyn Spencer, Donna Murch, and Ashley D. Farmer have worked against this erasure by recovering the narratives of many people, and especially the many women, who constituted the movement. Following their lead, Onaci turns to the New Afrikans themselves, finding that the RNA’s roots lay in stories of slavery that they read about or heard from their elders. New Afrikan Marilyn Killingham, for instance, learned to resist racism and sexism from tales of violence that she heard from her great-grandmother, who was enslaved until the age of sixteen. The stories passed down across generations that Onaci brings to the surface demonstrate that the Black Power movement was shaped as much by charismatic leaders as it was by local efforts to make better lives that drew on the knowledge of the (orally preserved) long black tradition of resistance. Free the Land, ultimately, demonstrates that even when politics seems to be about something as traditional as acquiring land, it is also about the unseen labor of building a movement and about the transformation of the lives of its constituents.

Those transformations can outlast both leaders and movements themselves. The ideas of the Black Power movement remain essential to academic black studies, for example, not simply because Black Power activists fought for the founding of black studies departments. The understanding that capitalism and white supremacy are intertwined globally, as well as the argument that this country was founded on and continues to profit from racist imperialism, were, at the very least, elaborated and disseminated through the movement. Contemporary black theory, in other words, depends on the ideas developed by people in Black Power movements like the RNA.

The Black Power strategy of turning away from the quest for governmental support and toward harnessing the shared wealth of local communities persists in community organizing today.

Similarly, the Black Power strategy of turning away from the quest for governmental support and toward harnessing the shared wealth of local communities persists in community organizing today. Just as the Panthers provided food to the impoverished, so too have mutual aid efforts in the present supplied food and personal protective equipment in the place of negligent (if not aggressive) states that have, to a fatal degree, not met the rising need under the coronavirus pandemic. And just as Black Power movements worked to free prisoners, so too have local bail funds worked to free incarcerated people where governments will not, even as local police respond to nationwide protests against their brutality by incarcerating demonstrators in jails made even more lethal by Covid-19. The success of these initiatives is a reminder that, when governments neglect or purposefully persecute their people’s welfare, local organizing may be the most viable means of survival.

The RNA also lives on literally—as Robin Kelley, Kali Akuno, Ajamu Nangwaya, among others have detailed. Many New Afrikan citizens are still alive, as is the fight for their nation. One descendant of the RNA, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, was organized in Jackson, Mississippi, in the mid-2000s to develop political forums and a cooperative economy. Both enabled MXGM to develop a base that elected Chokwe Lumumba, onetime leader of the RNA, to mayor of Jackson in 2013. MXGM has also continued the RNA’s project of allying with oppressed groups inside and outside of the United States. After Lumumba’s son became mayor in 2017, he fought to keep Jackson a sanctuary city and later became a delegate for Bernie Sanders. Though they faced a hostile state government, even as they came to be represented by local government, the MXGM and the Lumumbas made and continue to make real changes in Jackson. Their successes are a vindication of the methods the RNA has used for decades: interracial and international solidarity organizing, local economic mutual aid projects, and grassroots base-building.

Now, looking back on this more than forty-year-old history, it is hard not to applaud their electoral gains, the material transformations they brought to their constituents’ lives, their survival through America’s undeclared war, and the tradition of black radicalism that they have kept alive. It is hard, regardless of U.S. or international recognition, not to see the RNA as a country. No one knows what the future holds for the RNA, but their fight will live on in some form, much as it has since the seventeenth-century foundation of maroon communities across the Americas.

Original Source: https://thebaffler.com/outbursts/another-country-rodriques

The History & Development of The Republic of New Afrika 

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Harriet Tubman Freeing Enslaved Afrikans & Runaways Founding Independent Black Communities In Canada

The Historical Context of Harriet freeing enslaved Afrikans & Runaways founding Independent Communities in Canada 🇨🇦

” We sometimes refer to St. Catharines as the last stop on the Underground Railroad,” says Ford. “There were anti-slavery societies that were here, willing to help. And there had already been a lot of early settlers before the Harriet Tubman time. So St. Catharines was an established town for runaways at that time.”

When Tubman arrived in Canada December 1851, she quickly found employment and rented a house on North Street. At the time, there was already a small Black community in the town, which was growing rapidly due to the arrival of freedom-seekers. By late 1855, according to a local newspaper, 500 Black people were living in St. Catharines, which then had a total population of 7,060. Only six years later, the American abolitionist William Wells Brown reported that the community encompassed 800 people and that “about seven hundred of them are fugitive slaves.”

Tubman’s neighbours included men and women who were coopers, shoemakers, woodcutters, domestics, and farmers. The centre of the Black settlement in St. Catharines was located only 100 metres away from Tubman’s home, at the intersection of North Street and Geneva Streets. Two churches were located there: the Zion Baptist Church, later led by famed fugitive Anthony Burns, and the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. Today, the AME church is a heritage site and is known as the Salem Chapel, British Methodist Episcopal Church. Both churches provided spiritual and social support to the growing free community “

Historic Underground RailRoad Safe Houses – Haki Shakur 

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We Accuse: Bill Epton Speaks to the Court Response to Police Terrorism Murder of 15 Year Old James Powell Harlem NY Rebellion July 16 – 28 1964

On July 16, 1964, a New York City cop, Thomas Gilligan, shot and killed a 15-year old African-American high school student, James Powell, in cold blood. Over the next few days, the people of Harlem rose up in one of the first major northern rebellions in that period, marking a new stage in the Black Liberation Movement.

At that time, Bill Epton was vice chair of the Progressive Labor (PL) and chair of its Harlem branch. Epton and his comrades plastered the streets of Harlem with a poster: Wanted For Murder – Gilligan the Cop. The city administration declared a state of emergency in Harlem, prohibiting all demonstrations. While most of the reformist leaders went along with this ban, Epton and the Harlem branch of PL called for a peaceful rally on 125th Street for July 25. When Epton and the others began to march, he was arrested, charged with “criminal anarchy.” Epton was tried, found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison. This speech was made to the court at his sentencing hearing on July 27, 1966.

Epton was eventually released on bail while he appealed his conviction. Meanwhile, Progressive Labor began to change its line on the national question. They denounced all national liberation movements (such as in Vietnam) that did not aim directly for socialism; they also opposed the Black Liberation Movement in the U.S. for not going directly towards socialism. Around 1969, Epton left PL, taking almost all of their Black cadre in New York with him. PL responded by attacking Epton with racist slanders.

Ironically, it was only after Epton left PL, while he was involved in new attempts to unite revolutionary Marxists in the U.S. in the early 1970s, that the appeal of his conviction was rejected and he was forced to serve the remainder of his year in prison.

Bill Epton continued to fight against the conditions of oppression and exploitation of working people in general and Black people in particular until the end of his life. As he said in his speech, “I will fight against these conditions as long as there is a breath in my body!”

Once the PLP’s Harlem branch, which had been agitating in street rallies against police brutality for months, got word of the July 16th killing of James Powell, it began distributing thousands of posters proclaiming, “Wanted for Murder, Gilligan the Cop.”

At the rally on July 18th, Bill Epton delivered a soapbox speech in which he declared, “We’re going to have to kill a lot of cops, a lot of the judges, and we’ll have to go against their army.” Here are Epton’s own words recounting what he said at the rally:

“What I said was that we must fight back when the cops attack us. I said that the police have declared war on Harlem and Harlem must declare war back on them. They –the judges, the cops, the slumlords, the bosses – are the ones who institute violence and murder against the people. I called –openly and publicly – for revolutionary struggle by the people to defeat that reign of terror.”

Bill Epton died on January 23, 2002 in New York City. The struggle continues!

George Floyd State Sponsored Police Terrorism – Haki Kweli Shakur 

Introduction


Bill Epton, who fought against police brutality, against the conditions which the Black people of Harlem are forced to live under, who helped organize the people against those who oppress them, places the greatest stress on education and action – know your enemy, know how to fight them and know what you want – is the maxim. Socialism, the answer to all of the problems which beset the Black people, and all working people, is the new society for which Bill Epton and the PLP struggle daily. The struggle for socialism, for a radical transformation of the basis of this society, and Bill Epton’s role in struggling for that noble cause is the reason for the trial, for the persecutions and is the background for the speech to the court “We Accuse.”

This pamphlet, published by the Progressive Labor Party, contains the entire speech made by Vice-President Bill Epton before receiving sentence in New York State Supreme Court for a conviction of “criminal anarchy.”

Bill Epton, Chairman of the Harlem branch of the PLP, electrician, husband and father of two, was convicted for his beliefs and for his steadfast refusal to become an informer and a traitor to his people and his ideas.

Bill Epton, Black leader in the nation’s largest ghetto and revolutionary, has continuously urged his brothers and sisters to refuse to fight in the genocidal war of aggression in Vietnam and all wars of aggression against oppressed people anywhere.

Bill Epton, representative of American revolutionary socialists, indicts the system of monopoly capitalism, charges imperialism with crimes against humanity and urges all men everywhere to organize to fight imperialism, colonialism and all forces which continue to oppress the people of the world.

New York, February 2, 1966

Published by the Progressive Labor Party
G;P.O. Box 808
Brooklyn 1, New York

Background To The Case

1964

July 16 – James Powell, 15-year old Negro schoolboy, is shot three times and killed by off-duty policeman Lt. Thomas Gilligan.

July 18-21 – People of Harlem demonstrate in the streets against the slaying of the Powell boy, calling for the immediate prosecution and dismissal of Lt. Gilligan, resignations of Police Commissioner Murphy and Mayor Wagner.

July 18 – William Epton, Vice-Chairman of the Progressive Labor Movement, and Chairman of its Harlem branch, and members of the Harlem Defense Council, call for a peaceful demonstration on Saturday, July 25.

July 24 – Police Commissioner Murphy bans the proposed demonstrations.

July 25 – Epton, along with Conrad Lynn, his lawyer, characterize Murphy’s ban as “illegal and a violation of the Constitution.” They begin a march in defiance of the ban. Both are arrested and charged with “disorderly conduct” and “unlawful assembly.” Epton is released that night on $1,000 bail. Fifty people, including Epton, are handed “John Doe” injunctions, signed by District Attorney Hogan and Mayor Wagner, enjoining the “defendants… from assembly, gathering together, convening, parading, marching, demonstrating, or acting in concert in public areas…”

August 3 – District Attorney Hogan and Mayor Wagner summon a Grand Jury, known as the 2nd August Grand Jury – the 1st August Grand Jury was convened to “investigate the charges against Lt. Gilligan.”

August 5 – William Epton is indicted by the 2nd August Grand Jury and charged with “criminal anarchy” and “conspiring to overthrow the Government of the State of New York,” under a 1902 law last used in 1921.

First Week of September – Lt. Gilligan cleared by 1st August Grand Jury of any “wrong doing” in the Powell murder.

September 13 – Five people: two printers, a schoolteacher, the Chairman of the Harlem Defense Council and an activist in the Harlem PLM are picked up at 6 A.M. at their homes for refusing to answer questions put before them by the 2nd August Grand Jury. The five, the first to be arrested in pre-dawn raids, are charged with “perjury” and “criminal contempt” of the Grand Jury – which carry sentences of from one to five years in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. Bill Epton is called by Asst. District Phillips and asked to make a “deal”: to testify against members and friends of the PLM to gain his freedom.

October 27 – Epton trial date set after denial of appeals by attorney Conrad Lynn charging that the sections of the New York State law under which Epton was charged were unconstitutional.

December 18 – Motions are made in court on behalf of the first five victims of the Grand Jury inquisition.

December 21 – The Grand Jury issues new subpoenas to youth and students active in peace and community groups. Among those asked to testify against Epton and other leaders of the Progressive Labor Movement were: Levi Laub, Ellen Shallit, Mike Brown, Robert Apter, Susan Karp, Steve Martinot, Otis Chestnut, Jerry Gellis – representing the Student Committee for Travel to Cuba; Cerge, the legal defense organization aiding Epton, the “Harlem Six,” and victims of the Grand Jury; the May 2nd Movement, a student anti-imperialist peace organization; and the 118th Street Block Association.

December 28 – Epton enters court to test travel restrictions set on him. He subsequently loses the suit and is required to get special permission to leave New York City.

1965

January 18 – Community organizers Genoveva Clemente, Ed Lemansky, students Elinor Goldstein and Wendy Nakashima and PL Challenge Editor Walter Linder, an unemployed railroader, are called before the Grand Jury.

January 19 – Judge Arthur Braun throws out sections of the indictment against the first five victims.

January 27 – Elinor Goldstein, student at the City College of New York, is jailed for “civil contempt” of the Grand Jury and is sent to jail for 30 days.

February 27 – Attorney Len Holt of Virginia files suit in Federal Court for $400,000 against Mayor Wagner, Police Commissioner Murphy, D.A. Hogan and others.

February (last week of) – Wendy Nakashima, Catherine Prensky and Genoveva Clemente are remanded to jail, each for 30 days, for “civil contempt” of the Grand Jury.

March 8 – New subpoenas are handed out to Alice Jerome, teacher, Carl Jerome, student, Jacob Rosen, PLM functionary, Charles Rosen, printer, Mort Slater, worker, William Turner, worker, Joan Sekler, student, Jerry Weinberg, writer and others.

March 9 – New pre-dawn raids are made on the homes of seven people called on December 18. The seven are charged with “criminal contempt” of the Grand Jury, facing one year and $1,000 fine.

March 11 – Elinor Goldstein, released from a 30-day sentence for refusal to answer questions, is re-subpoenaed, again refuses to answer questions and is sent to the notorious Women’s House of Detention (then under investigation for “dungeon conditions”) for 30 days.

March 25 – Epton trial again postponed to April 9.

March 27 – Vivian Anderson, a Harlem school teacher and sole support for her young son, is shifted from the Women’s House of Detention after a publicity and leafleting campaign. Mrs. Anderson was one of the first victims of the Grand Jury.

March 29 – Grand Jury hearings postponed.

March 30 – Epton and Attorney Lynn are acquitted on charges of “disorderly conduct” and “unlawful assembly” arising from the July 25th demonstration.

April 5 – The first five victims are sentenced to four months in prison after serving almost one month awaiting sentencing.

April 7 – Motions are heard in the case of the second seven victims of the Grand Jury, augmented by entry into the case of the eighth victim – steel worker Steve Martinot.

April 9 – Elinor Goldstein, released from her second 30-day sentence, is recalled before the Grand Jury. The ACLU agrees to enter her case and the subpoena is quashed.

Mrs. Anderson is returned to the Women’s House of Detention.

April 15 – Mrs. Anderson, released from prison, is fired by the New York City Board of Education.

April 27 – Hearings in the case of the second eight are held.

May 3 – Epton case postponed from April 9.

May 12 – Eight defendants plead “not guilty” and trial date is set for May 25.

May 24 – Libel suit entered by Lt. Gilligan against Rev. Martin Luther King, James Farmer, CORE, Bill Epton, Jesse Gray, PLM, HDC, the printshop and owner of the print shop for the “Wanted for Murder – Gilligan the Cop” leaflet. Suit is for $5 million.

June 7 – Epton trial postponed from May 5 over the objections of Attorney Lynn. Court orders District Attorney to be ready for trial or the case will be dropped.

July 15 – Epton trial postponed to August 2. Mayor Wagner, speaking to group of students while traveling in Denmark says: the rebellion was “a social revolution – a demand by a minority for equal rights.” (N.Y. Times, July 7, 1965).

July 22 – Epton pleads “not guilty” and motions to dismiss the indictment are put off by the judge.

August 2 – Epton trial postponed.

August 17 – Hearings on bill of particulars in the Epton case held. Meanwhile, the “criminal anarchy” indictment is dropped and a new indictment, this time for “advocacy” of “criminal anarchy,” is drawn up by the District Attorney. Epton is arrested in court and released on $10,000 bail.

September 30 – The 2nd August Grand Jury is extended for the fifth time. It can legally continue until February, 1966.

October 14 – Epton trial begins. He requests change of attorneys but the court refuses his desired lawyer, Len Holt of Virginia. The judge instructs Holt, a militant Negro attorney with a long history of fighting civil rights and liberties cases, “Your role in this court is to be quiet and act like a gentleman.”

November 29 – Epton trial begins with chief counsel Mrs. Eleanore Jackson Piel and assisting attorneys Len Holt and Sanford Katz.

December 20 – Epton is found guilty on all counts and is remanded to jail despite pleas that he be permitted to spend holidays with his wife and two small children.

1966

January 20 – Walter Linder, Charles Rosen and Joan Sekler are arrested by District Attorney’s office for “criminal contempt” of the Grand Jury. They are arrested over ten months after they were called to testify and are to appear in court February 10 to begin with trial proceedings.

January 27 – Bill Epton, facing 12 years in prison and $6,000 fine is sentenced to one year in prison on all counts. His attorney, Mrs. Piel, demands that the trial be declared invalid and Epton makes a fiery speech to the Court before sentencing. The courtroom, moved to cheers by Epton’s speech, is cleared and picketing by over 100 people begins outside the courthouse.

Repeated demands for bail have been denied and Epton continues his stay in prison while the attorneys attempt to get him released, also attempting to get a judge to permit them to appeal the conviction.

BLACK LIBERATION MATTERS ( BLM ) – HAKI SHAKUR 


We Accuse


Bill Epton Speaks to the Court

I would like to address a few remarks to this court and its government.

You have judged me “guilty” and have labeled me a “criminal” and also “dangerous.” I have been found “guilty” by a “jury of my peers.” On this I will have more to say later.

Now – let me examine what I have been found “guilty” of doing and saying:

I have been found “guilty” of agitating against the conditions that my people are forced to live under in New York and all over the country.

I have been found “guilty” of protesting the murder – yes, murder – or legal lynching, whatever you choose, of James Powell by Thomas Gilligan, a New York policeman.

I have been found “guilty” of organizing the Harlem community against police brutality that has been occurring in the Black ghettos for hundreds of years. I have been found “guilty” of standing up for the right of all men to be free – to be free from the system of exploitation of man by man.

I have been found “guilty” of proclaiming that capitalism is an oppressive system and that socialism is the only solution for mankind to live in peace and humanity.

I have been found “guilty” of demanding that the U.S government take its troops out of Vietnam and stop its genocidal war against the Vietnamese people.

I have been found “guilty” of asking the question of Black boys and men, “What are you doing in the U.S. Army fighting your colored brothers around the world who are engaged in battle against the same government that is oppressing you?” and “Is it in your interest to kill and be killed to support a racist government?”

I have been found “guilty” of being an outspoken critic of the U.S. government and its paramilitary police force.

I have been found “guilty” of publicly advocating socialism to cure the ills of the Black people of the country and the workers in general.

And finally – I have been found “guilty” of being a communist – and a Black one at that!

If these are the “crimes” that I have been found “guilty” of committing, then I am “guilty” a thousand times over. In fact, I will be “guilty” of these “crimes” as long as the conditions exist, and I will fight against these conditions as long as there is a breath in my body!

For that matter the State (and in this case I mean New York State) didn’t have to waste the taxpayers’ money on this trial – money that is needed to employ the unemployed, to build new houses for the poorly housed, schools that are sorely needed in the ghettos, hospitals that are needed for the sick and aged, recreation centers for the youth and cultural centers to raise the cultural level of the people.

You didn’t have to use all of these policemen to follow me, tap my phone, join our organization, “bug” our offices and homes and harass our members when they should have been out arresting slumlords and those people who are bringing narcotics to Harlem – and they know who they are.

You didn’t have to expose, for the world to see, how desperately you are afraid of dissent. No – you didn’t have to do any of this. All you had to do was ask me and I would have told you.


What did we do?

Did we put out various leaflets, offered here as so-called “evidence,” against police brutality that is committed against the Black and Puerto Rican people? Yes, we did!

Did we put out leaflets calling for more and better schools in Harlem, and in the city in general? Yes, we did!

Did we put out leaflets demanding more and better houses in Harlem, and in the city in general; with the rents averaging 10 per cent of a worker’s income? Yes, we did!

Did we put out leaflets protesting the brutality that was committed against the “Harlem Six” and in their defense? Yes, we did!

Did we protest the fact that these courts denied them the right to have lawyers of their own choosing? Yes, we did!

Did we issue leaflets demanding jobs for the unemployed and the under-employed? Yes, we did!

Did we issue leaflets and speak out against racism in this country – from the U.S. government on down? Yes, we did!

Did we help organize the Harlem Defense Council to protect the people of Harlem? Yes, we did!

Did we call for a Peoples’ Police Control Board over the activities of the Police Department? Yes, we did!

Did we issue the Gilligan Wanted for Murder poster? Yes, we did!

Did I write articles exposing the U.S. government’s role in the rape of the Congo? Yes, I did!

And do I support the Congolese people in their struggle to regain control of their country? Yes, I do!

Did I speak and agitate on the streets of Harlem, and all over the city, for a better way of life for the people of this city and country? Yes, I did!

Did I help to organize the people of Harlem around specific demands during the “police riots” of July 1964? Yes, I did!

Did I write an article The Negro Question and the Right to Revolution that came out in its final form entitled Black Self-Determination? Yes, I did! It can be purchased on many newsstands in this city and around the country.

Did we distribute a Draft Strategic Program that also appeared in its final form in Progressive Labor magazine that presented our position on the problems facing the American people and what we consider the solution to be? Yes, we did! This copy of the magazine can also be bought on the newsstands for fifty cents. You don’t have to “infiltrate” an organization to get a copy.

If the District Attorney’s office, the Bureau of Special Services and the FBI consider this the activity of a “secret” organization, then they are blinder and stupider than their mildest critics would even imagine!

And – If you ask me, am I a communist? – the answer is yes, I am!

You didn’t have to have a trial to “prove” these things. All you had to do was ask me and I would have told you – Yes! There’s no problem – There’s no secret – whatever we write and publish we sign with our name, address and phone number. We are willing and not afraid to put out ideas in the public view.

Did you, at any time, think that we would deny what we do and have done? Did you think that we would deny what we hold to be true and what we believe in? Do you think that all people in this country have been so “brain dirtied” and have been so thoroughly corrupted that they are afraid to express an independent thought – to stand up for what they believe and fight for it? Well, there are people in this country who are governed by ideas that do not come out of the pages of the Times and the Daily News, and their numbers grow every day. And I am sure that this so-called “trial” has opened up many more eyes.

Whatever we do and whatever we believe in – we do and believe that it is in the interest of the people of this country; And yes – we are proud to have done it and to be doing it and we stand behind our actions four-square!


Are public expressions opposed to the government “conspiracies”?

Now, we ask:

Is this system and government attempting to deny us the right to our political views and deny us the right to express these views openly, publicly and honestly? If this is what they are attempting, we shall refuse to give up this right. We will not be intimidated into giving up our rights to speak openly and freely and we will fight to maintain this right.

In referring to the U.S. Attorney General’s order forbidding certain classes of foreign visitors from speaking in this country, Alexander Meiklejohn stated, which holds true in this case also:

“Why may we not hear what these men from other counties, other systems of government, have to say? For what purpose has the Attorney General imposed limits upon their speaking, upon our hearing? The plain truth is that he is seeking to protect the minds of the citizens of this… nation of ours from the influence of emotions, of doubts, of questions, of plans, of principles which the government judges to be too ‘dangerous’ for us to hear. He is afraid that we, whose agent he is, will be led astray by opinions which are alien and subversive. Do We, the People of the United States, wish to be so mentally ‘protected?’ To say that would seem to be an admission that we are intellectually and morally unfit to play our part in what Justice Holmes has called the ‘experiment’ of self-government. Have we, on that ground, abandoned or qualified the great experiment? In our discussion of public policy at home, do we intend that ‘dangerous’ ideas shall be suppressed? Or are they, under the Constitution, guaranteed freedom from such suppression?”

That is the question that this court and the government should address itself to instead of finding in our “opinions” and ideas a “conspiracy.” Because, by the logical extension of the State’s case, public expression of “opinions,” ideas, writings and speech, if they are opposed to the government, are a “conspiracy” and a “crime.”

Our political views and our program are just as valid as those of any other political party or any other group. I say further that our views and our program are more valid than other political parties because we have a program that has a solution to the many problems that confront the people of this country. And that means, in the final analysis, that it will bring world peace, because this is the country, with its capitalist system, that is waging war and aggression all around the world and threatening world peace. (And who can deny that these wars are being waged against the colored peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America?)

If we write these articles, distribute these leaflets, organize the people against oppression and for a redress of their grievances, organize against the genocide committed against the Vietnamese people and against the Congolese people, and publicly expound our views and do all of this in a perfectly legal manner, then why am I on trial? Why was I found “guilty” and why do I stand here about to be sentenced?


“…first the communists, then the Jews, then everyone else…,” Hitler said.

We offer that the U.S. government stands naked before the world for what it is – an imperialist, racist government. And since it is in this position it must guarantee its home base, silence dissent and whip its own people into line.

We know how this works. We saw it happen in Germany during that country’s rise to fascism. The German people said that, “It’s only those Jews and communists that they are killing and jailing.” But we know what the end result was. It may have started out “only” being the Jewish people and the communists, but when it ended, a whole nation was enslaved.

Is that a clear example? We think so. Because today, in this country, people may say, “Well, it’s only those niggers and Puerto Ricans and communists.” And as sure as I am standing here, they will include the Jewish people and then, as in fascist Germany, the entire country will be enslaved.

Today it is Bill Epton and the Progressive Labor Party that has stood on trial for our political views and our political activities. This is just the opening shot. Tomorrow it will be other militant voices of dissent – the militant and active student movement, the peace movement, the college professors and teachers who are sincerely becoming more active and outspoken against the government’s policies at home and abroad and the intellectual community, who see the contradiction in what the government says it is and what it does in fact. And, of course, as it has always been, the pressures on the Black people will increase because they are on the bottom and have the least to lose in fighting against the system. And, as we have seen in the past, when the white workers begin to struggle for their just demands and a better way of life, they will also be violently suppressed.

It is important that the students, intellectuals, and the workers unite to stay the hand of this government before it is too late, and in the same light, the Black people must organize themselves for the right of self-determination and for their liberation.

I say here, openly and publicly, that the Black people will not walk into the concentration camps, the furnaces and the gas chambers. We would sooner die fighting before we allow this to happen to us. To those who take this lightly, I say, if a government uses concentration camps (misnamed “strategic hamlets”), gas and fire against the Vietnamese people, what’s to prevent them from carrying out the same policy here? If a government uses fascistic methods to suppress others, it is only one step removed from using the same methods against its own people.

And we say to white America: Where will you be? Will the world ask the same question that the world is now asking the German people, “Where were you? Where were you when your country was being taken over by the industrial-military complex?” That same industrial and military complex that even Eisenhower was moved to warn this nation to beware of when he left the White House in 1961 – even though he helped to pave their way. The point is that even he saw the monster emerging as the dominant force in this country – which it is today. This is the same type of industrial-military complex that brought Hitler to power and supported him.

When the future equivalent of the Nuremberg Trials take place, it will not be Bill Epton standing in the docket, but it will be the Johnsons, the McNamaras, the Bundys, the Dirksens, the war-mad industrialists, who make war for profit, and their agents, who will be tried for crimes against humanity – the crimes against humanity that the nazis, their politicians, the industrialists, the military, those who made and carried out the “laws” to support that system and their subordinates were accused of and brought to trial and convicted. These are the same crimes being committed against humanity that their counterparts in the U.S are committing today and have been committing.

We say, here and now, that they should not harbor the illusion that the people here in the United States, and the people of the world, will not wake up as they always do eventually – and bring them to justice.

We, as communists, will fight against fascism as we have always done – no matter how it disguises itself. We will fight against it united with all those democratic forces who truly love and want peace. We will not be cowardly! We will continue to fight for peace and a better way of life for the American people openly and publicly! And we will fight for it as Marxist-Leninists! We have a right to be open and public Marxists. We will not give up and we will not allow this government, this court or any of its agencies to force us into taking any other position.

You have people in jail all over this country – mainly Black, Spanish-speaking and poor whites. This system, U.S. capitalism – a system where a few exploit the many – a system where the real criminals sit in high places and hold lofty positions – have the audacity to judge these people criminals: This system that forces these people to act the way they did and rebel in the way that they rebelled. This capitalist system completely de-humanizes mankind – particularly our own citizens – in jails where a man is turned into nothing else but a caged animal; in ghettos, in factories they call schools, in a moral climate where dissent is called a crime, where terror, mass murder, submission and racism has come to be known as the American Way of Life. And you have the nerve to call them criminals – the thief crying “stop, thief!”


Who are the real criminals?

We ask you, who are the real criminals? Who completely, through planned acts of genocide, destroyed the great Indian nation that once inhabited this continent? Who are the criminals? The criminal is the U.S. capitalist system.

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who raped Mother Africa to enslave and murder 60 million Africans to build this nation with their bodies, sweat and tears with almost 250 years of free labor?

Who are the criminals? The criminal is the system that lives on greed, corruption and the exploitation of man by man. That system is the U.S. capitalist system!

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who murdered, destroyed the language, culture, the religion, and, in some cases, the dignity of the Black men who were brought over here as slaves?

Who are the criminals? The criminals are the system that puts maximum profits over and above the lives of men. That system is U.S. capitalism!

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who, through military power and under the slogan of “manifest destiny,” colonized the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and parts of other countries and reduced South America to nothing but a source of raw materials with its people among the poorest in the world? The criminal is the United States government.

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who is attempting to reduce this nation to nothing but robots to parrot their racist and pro-fascist policy? The criminal is a system that parades around as the “most democratic” and the leader of the “free world” and the strongest military power in the world today, but who really has feet of clay because it must silence any voice of dissent That system is the U.S. capitalist system!

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who, in their drive for world domination and to cower the world at its feet, massacred nearly 150,000 civilians with two bombs, one on Nagasaki and the other on Hiroshima? That dastardly act was committed by the U.S. government!

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who makes “laws” and when their same “laws” make it possible to dissent, turn around and either re-write them or ignore them? Who persecuted and attempted to destroy the trade unions in the name of “national security”? Who jailed those people who dared speak out against their oppressive system? Who framed and murdered the Rosenbergs in the true tradition of Hitlerite Germany? This was all done by the United States government!

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who is attempting to colonize the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America with a policy of overthrowing and destroying their governments, e.g. Guatemala, Santo Domingo, Venezuela, the Congo, south Vietnam, Laos, Brazil, British Guiana and the list goes on and on? These acts are being committed daily by the U.S. government and its parrots at home and abroad!

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who has systematically poured jellied gasoline over the Vietnamese people? Who has used chemical warfare and gas against the Vietnamese people? Who is attempting, through sheer military power and mass murder, to either bring the people to their knees or totally annihilate them under the slogan of “national security”? The answer is clearly the United States government!

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who are the criminals who have taken it upon themselves to become the police force of the world; to suppress any movement for freedom and national liberation in Asia, Africa and Latin America? The most dangerous and very criminal system is the U.S. imperialist system!

We ask you, who are the criminals? Who supports, militarily and financially, every fascist and pro-fascist clique in the world? Yes, again, it is the U.S. government!

And, we ask you, who stands alone, with increasing isolation in the world, as the arch-enemy of the people of the world? I will tell you who it is, it is the criminal U.S. government that is considered the most dangerous by the people of the world!


I have ‘dangerous’ thoughts – ideas of Freedom!

Now you have called me “dangerous.” In order to be “dangerous” one must be “dangerous” to someone or something. Since you have called me “dangerous” I must ask to whom am I “dangerous” and to what am I “dangerous”?

If ideas are “dangerous” then I am “dangerous” because I have ideas. I have ideas for a new system of government and society. Those ideas I have are called socialism. Socialism – a system where there will no longer exist a basis for the exploitation of man by man; a system of government where people – all people, without reservation – will be able to grow and develop into full human beings, where love will replace hate, where men, all men, can develop to their fullest potential.

Yes, I have these ideas and they are “dangerous,” to that small minority of people that presently exercises control over the people of this country. The idea that man should, can and will be free from this exploitation is “dangerous” and repugnant to them.

The ideas that we have are not “dangerous” to the workers, they are not “dangerous” to the tenant farmers and sharecroppers, and they are surely not “dangerous” to the Black people.

This notion that you have put forth of my being “dangerous” was also put into practice by the city administration by deliberately falsifying and conducting a fraudulent election in the district where I ran for State Senate. If my ideas were not so “dangerous” to them, then why didn’t they give the people a fair chance to make their choice at the ballot box?

Yes, we have these ideas and we will continue to spread them. And when that day comes when the American people realize that their government is a lie, and has lied and exploited them for years, they themselves – with their own hands – will dismember it, chase out the rascals and set up a government of their own choosing and liking. This is as inevitable as the sun rising and no matter what U.S. imperialism does, it cannot stop this historical process and its own inevitable doom.


The truth was not allowed to be presented!

We have also been accused of being anarchists. Yes, we communists have been accused of being anarchists, because what else does the charge mean? It says that we were conspiring to commit “criminal anarchy” and the “jury,” by its finding, in essence, did say we attempted to do this and, in fact, “we did it.” Of course, anyone who has one ounce of political sophistication knows that a communist, who believes in the highest form of organized government – after the revolution – is not an anarchist and has been an opponent of this doctrine since its inception. But, as we have so graphically seen it demonstrated in this court, the truth was not allowed to be presented.

When Professor Wilson from Princeton University, one of the nation’s leading scholars on Marxism and anarchism, appeared to testify as a defense witness, in order to clarify to the “jury” and the public that the documents presented here (or so-called “evidence”) were not documents of an anarchist or an organization that represents anarchy, those who were present in court at that time watched that transparent blindfold, that justice is supposed to be wearing, ripped off – and Professor Wilson was ordered to leave the stand and not testify!

If this building, with all sorts of quotes engraved into its wall, is supposed to represent justice, is supposed to be an “impartial third person” whose function it is to hear and bring out the truth, if this building and its inhabitants claimed that they performed this function, we ask, why was Professor Wilson not allowed to testify?

I don’t think that we need any crystal balls or magic lanterns to discover the truth. Professor Wilson was not allowed to testify because he would have put the lie to the various assertions that this was not a political trial. He would have exposed, as a truly impartial authority, that nothing in this indictment of the so-called “overt acts” had the remotest connection with anarchy, and, he would, from an expert point of view, with no ax to grind, have laid bare this sham.

Every so-called “overt” act was guaranteed us under the First Amendment of the Constitution – the right to speak freely, to express our ideas publicly, to criticize public officials, and especially the government, to organize and to peacefully assemble without interference from the State. Justice Holmes had said, and I quote:

“If, in the long run, the beliefs expressed in proletarian dictatorships are destined to be accepted by the dominant forces in the community, the only meaning of free speech is that they should be given their chance and have their way.”

Why are we being denied our “chance”? The answer is that this system, with all its pretences of being strong, is a house built on sand and, in order for it to continue its rule, it must suppress its own Constitution or ignore it – especially the First Amendment – because it is afraid that we are “destined to be accepted by the dominant forces” of the country, which are the workers.

I quote again:

“The First Amendment was not written primarily for the protection of the intellectual aristocrats who pursued knowledge solely for the fun of the game, whose search for truth expresses nothing more than a private intellectual curiosity or an equally private delight and pride in mental achievement. It was written to clear the way for thinking which serves the general welfare. It offers defense to men who plan and advocate and incite towards corporate action for the common good. In behalf of such men it tells us that every plan of action must have a hearing, every relevant idea of fact or value must have consideration, whatever may be the danger which that activity involves. It makes no difference whether a man is advocating conscription or opposing it, speaking in favor of a war or against it, defending democracy or attacking it, planning a communist reconstruction of our economy or criticizing it. So long as his active words are those of participation in public discussion and public decision of matters of public policy, the freedom of those words may not be abridged.”

So said Professor Alexander Meiklejohn, who was one of the country’s most noted authorities on the First Amendment and, no doubt, if he had appeared here to testify, his eloquent words would have also been suppressed by the court.

Do you wish to jail me? I am sure you do! And that’s not very difficult for the richest industrial country in the world and one of the most powerful military countries that ever existed. No, it’s not very difficult for you to jail me, it’s not very difficult. But, does this mean you have proven your strength or does it mean you have displayed your weakness? I suggest that you have shown to the world and the American people the depth of your weakness.


Your greatest weakness is yourself.

Why are you weak? First of all, you spend billions of dollars on propaganda telling your people and the world what a great “democracy” you have. You tell them you have no political prisoners. You say that all political ideas have freedom of expression and on and on. If your form of democracy is so great, why are you afraid of political ideas that are so different? Why do you attempt to suppress them? If you are so sure of your form of democracy, why don’t you open the flood gates and allow all ideas and ideologies to contend? That’s a sign of strength. But you are afraid – therefore you are strategically weak!

Secondly, only the most naive, racist and weak are not conscious of the Harlem Rebellion of July 1964. They are the only ones that do not know, and if they do know they are afraid of its meaning, so they look for a scapegoat instead of digging to find the cause. They are the ones that don’t know that the people were fighting against the police terror, unemployment, housing that doesn’t provide warmth in the winter nor coolness in the summer, houses that are infested with rats, roaches and other disease-carrying vermin, an educational system that doesn’t teach, one hospital that doesn’t care for the sick and the diseased, unemployment that is among the highest in the country, and the highest rate of drug addiction of any community in the country. These are among the reasons that the people rebelled.

And we all know – and the world knows – that the spark that set it off was the cold-blooded murder of James Powell by Thomas Gilligan of the New York Police Department.

Who can deny these facts but a blind man as a liar?

Would a weak government, as a strong government, admit that it created the conditions for that type of outbreak to occur? A strong government would, but a government like this one, which, on the surface, appears to be strong, would do exactly what you are doing – ignore the conditions, buy off some of the “respectable” leaders, find a likely scapegoat and put the blame on him. I knew and everyone else in Harlem knew, that I was going to be the scapegoat so that the government could wipe its hands clean and duck all responsibility. Why was I the likely candidate? It’s very simple. While the other so-called leaders were hiding and meeting and telling the people “things were fine,” we were organizing the people to present their grievances to the city. We exposed the Police Department to be the terroristic organization that it is in Harlem. We were in the streets giving the leadership and we would not be bought off. And, of course, I am a communist!

You have also displayed your weakness because the apparatus of the state of New York, in conjunction with the Federal government, has fabricated a case (and not a very good one, as even your District Attorney admitted in his summation) against one man. Even if you say that there were six so-called co-conspirators, are you foolish enough to believe that six people could plan to start, start and continue a “riot” in Harlem and then miraculously shift them to Brooklyn? If you have worked yourself up into believing this nonsense, then, with all of your spies, stool pigeons, cops and so-called leaders, you still don’t have the slightest knowledge of the Black communities.

Is it just Bill Epton that you want to jail or is your long-range objective to try to destroy the Progressive Labor Party? As we have said earlier, it’s no problem for the tremendous U.S. government to jail Bill Epton. But you cannot destroy the Progressive Labor Party, because the Progressive Labor Party is an organization that has ideas like mine. You can jail people, but since recorded history no idea has ever been jailed – and don’t think it hasn’t been tried by other governments before yours came into existence!

No matter haw many of us you put into your jails you will never be able to destroy or jail the ideas that we hold, that thousands of other Americans hold, the dominant ideas in the world today, the ideas of freedom, national liberation and socialism.

You see, this system is caught on the “horns of a dilemma.” It is so rich, so corrupt and so involved in its own lies that it believes that the individual is everything. That by building up or tearing down an individual they can control the masses of the people. This entire concept is in the history of this country arid permeates its thinking – that individuals make and determine the course of mankind. Thus they jail dissenters and what happens? – dissension grows, and more are jailed and the process continues. It will continue until that section of the Walter-McCarren Act that provided for the setting up and use of concentration camps will be utilized. For those who doubt, read the Nation magazine that has detailed where these camps have been set up.


Was Bill Epton in Watts, Chicago, Rochester, Birmingham…?

What else do they do under this misapprehension that by jailing or killing individuals they can stop the course of history? They have assassinated Patrice Lumumba, but, the national liberation movement continues to exist and grow. They assassinated Malcolm X and that hasn’t stopped the upsurge of the Black people here for national liberation. They have jailed and finally caused the death of Albizu Campos – the great leader of the Puerto Rican people – but the Puerto Rican people are still fighting for, and will win, their independence. There are numerable other examples.

Now we know, we Marxists know, that history is not made by individuals but by the masses of the people – the great restless mass of people who are fed up with being oppressed. So you jail and assassinate, but somehow the struggle against oppression continues. I ask you, was Bill Epton in Watts, Los Angeles?

Just like in New York they buried their heads in the sand. Instead of jailing Police Chief Parker, they set up a commission headed by the arch-criminal, former head of the CIA, John McCone. And just like in Harlem, they are not going to solve the problems of the people. They will look for another scapegoat and blame it on “outside agitators” because “our niggers are good and peaceful niggers.”


This system can only be done away with – not reformed

This system cannot solve the problems that confront the Black people in this country nor can it solve the problems of the workers in general. You may have been successful so far in buying off some of the so-called leaders, but can you buy off the 16 million near-starving people that live in the mountains of Appalachia? No, you can’t unless this system is changed!

Can you continue to buy off the hundreds of thousands of Black tenant farmers and sharecroppers who barely subsist in the Black Belt? No, you can’t without a basic policy of agrarian reform, and this system will not institute such a policy!

Can you continue to buy off those Black people that you have built a color-class barrier around in the ghettos across the length and breadth of this land? No, you will not be able to!

Can you continue to buy off the modern day slave, commonly called “migrant farmers” who travel around the country with all their earthly belongings in a cardboard box? No you can’t!

Just as the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee saw the light, so will others. I quote from their statement of January 6:

“We believe the United States government has been deceptive in its claims of concern for the freedom of the Vietnamese people, just as the government has been deceptive in claiming concern for the freedom of colored people in such other countries as the Dominican Republic, the Congo, South Africa, Rhodesia and in the United States itself.

“We, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, have been involved in the Black people’s struggle for liberation and self-determination in this country for the past five years. Our work, particularly in the South, has taught us that the United States government has never guaranteed the freedom of oppressed citizens, and is not yet truly determined to end the rule of terror and oppression within its own borders.

“We ourselves have often been victims of violence and confinement executed by United States governmental officials. We recall the numerous persons who have been murdered in the South because they demanded their civil and human rights, and whose murderers have been allowed to escape penalties for their crimes.

“The murder of Samuel Younge in Tuskegee, Alabama, is no different than the murder of peasants in Vietnam, for both Younge and the Vietnamese sought and are seeking, to secure the rights guaranteed them by law. In each case, the United States government bares a great responsibility for their deaths.

“Samuel Younge was murdered because United States law is not being enforced. Vietnamese are murdered because the United States is pursuing an aggressive policy in violation of international law. The United States is no respecter of person or law when such persons or laws run counter to its desires.

“We question, then, the ability and even the desire of the United States government to guarantee free elections abroad. We maintain that our country’s cry of ‘preserve freedom in the world’ is a hypocritical mask behind which it squashes liberation movements which are not bound and refuse to be bound by the experiences of United States Cold war policies.

“We take note of the fact that 60 per cent of the draftees from this country are Negroes called on to stifle the liberation of Vietnam, to preserve a ‘democracy’ which does not exist for them at home.

“We ask, where is the draft for the freedom fight?”


Our patience is great; but even great things wither away…

Do you think you will always be able to throw a few crumbs to our people and say, “Okay, everything is fine.”? I think not! Are you laboring under the illusions that Black mothers will continue to see their babies die before they are able to walk and not fight against the system that makes their death possible?

Are you laboring under the illusion that Black people will continue to allow their loved ones to cough and spit their lives away with tuberculosis without realizing that this is happening because they are living under a system that regards them as sub-human?

Do you have the illusion that people who are constantly, and, in many cases, permanently unemployed, will not say, “We have had enough; either you give us jobs or we’ll get a system that will!”?

Do you think that you can continue to sell this phony electoral system to the people when all they see is one fraud after another? When they see the Georgia Legislature deny a Black man his seat because he is opposed to the war in Vietnam – why aren’t they calling for the ouster of the murderers who sit in Washington, who advocate and are planning on dropping bombs on everyone who doesn’t agree with them – and who are doing it?

Do you think that you can suppress the young people, both black and white, who have no fear of McCarthyism (and its now more subtle form)? No, you can’t. Because they have very few illusions about the system and they hate it

Will mothers begin to realize that their children are being cheated from realizing their full potential because of an educational system that has no intention of educating them? When these mothers become fully aware of this, they themselves will begin to tear at this rotten system. When the full realization reaches the Black people that dope is brought into their communities to further subjugate them, they will know then that it is a system that makes profit off of their misery that is their real enemy.

Will the American people not organize against this system when it becomes obvious to them, as it is now obvious to the Black people, that the police all around this country will be the stormtroopers that will be used against them when they protest their conditions? The Black people know that the American Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the White Citizens Council and the John Birch Society find their most ardent recruits and supporters within the police departments around this country.

And when the full realization hits the people of this country, that their taxes and productive capabilities are being used to finally destroy them in a nuclear holocaust, and is not being used in their interest, they themselves will bring down this system with a vengeance never before seen in the history of mankind.


Who was this ‘jury of my peers’…?

I said earlier that I would discuss the question of the 12 jurors that were supposed to have been my “peers.” I will now address a few remarks to that subject.

I must say that I only feel deep sorrow for them. I do not accuse them of any crime except the crime of being products of this system. They were sold a “bill of goods” and they bought it!

I am sure if we asked most of them, in the quiet of their home, what they found me “guilty” of, they would not be able to tell us. And if we ask them if they were “objective” in their deliberations, they would say yes.

If we were to ask them, as we did during the jury selection, if they have any prejudices against communists, they would say no, most emphatically!

If we were to ask them if they have any prejudices against Black people, they would say no, also, most emphatically! And we could go on and on with these questions and they would give “right answers.”

Were they dishonest? I don’t know if we could say that, but let’s examine the facts and then draw our conclusions.

First of all, we live in a country where racism and the ideology of white supremacy is synonymous with the American Way of Life. Where, since 1619, and one time written in the Constitution, the Black man has not been considered a real man.

We live in a country where racism has deep roots!

We live in a country where the main communication media spews forth racism – racism is everywhere! To boil it all down, there are very, very few white people – and yes, some black people also – who are not affected by the ideology of white supremacy.

But in so-called “liberal” New York, racism is not supposed to exist, so it is not admitted, and, for that matter, how many white people in New York will publicly admit that they are racists?

Secondly, we also live in a country whose government, for at least twenty years, has carried out a systematic anti-communist campaign. They have hunted and looked for communists in every nook and cranny. They have persecuted and jailed communists, those who might have sympathized with them, and those people who have genuine liberal views. They have accused communists of every dastardly crime imaginable, and even invented new ones.

In fact, good honest people who had no politics at all were even afraid to use the word communist in public without looking over their shoulder. And, at the same time, the government and its puppets were saying, as they were locking communists into their jails, that “every man has a right to his political views.” What hypocrisy!

And, again – in “liberal” New York, most people will publicly say, “every man has a right to his political views,” they say this because this is what they are supposed to say in a so-called democracy.

Now, these jurors, both Black and white, being products of the system, went to the schools, read the newspapers and magazines, watch the movies and television, and listen to the radio. These jurors are supposed to come into this court with an open mind and with no preconceived ideas or judgments and with no prejudices. That’s what those 12 people said. Again we ask the question, were they honest?

I pose another question. During the jury selection there were people who came forth and quite honestly said, “I have read the newspapers,” and “I have an opinion.” Were these the honest people or were these the hypocrites? They were the honest people, and, as a result, they could not sit on the jury.

I submit that every man, woman and child in this city had an opinion on the “police riots” in Harlem of July 1964!!

I ask you, how could those 12 people, who, in many cases did not understand the language of the ghetto, did not understand the Marxist terminology, cannot, in their wildest dreams imagine the filth and poverty that the people in Harlem are found to live in – how could they really understand what we were talking about? How could this “jury of my peers” therefore judge me and my conduct?

This “jury” of my so-called “peers” saw fit to find me “guilty” of a crime that many of the best legal minds in this country have said they can never understand, as you yourself have admitted – a crime that, in essence, doesn’t even exist – “criminal anarchy!” In fact, judging from the questions they asked during their deliberations, they didn’t have the slightest idea as to what “criminal anarchy” meant.

And yet, they still found me “guilty” of non-existent offenses.

This further exposes the sad condition that many people of this country are still in.

And finally – after everything is said, we must boil this discussion on the jury down to its bare essentials. What were the choices they had? The choice was to free Bill Epton – a Black man and a communist – on the one hand, and the State on the other. To acquit me on these charges, no matter how wild and absurd they may sound, would have meant that they would have condemned the U.S. government, the State government, the City government and the New York Police Department.

Yes, they would have to condemn this entire system. That’s the choice they had and in spite of the fact that more people in this country are becoming conscious of the role their government is playing, the majority still believe that sick slogan “My country – right or wrong.”

I offer you the following which will best illustrate what we are saying. If I, Bill Epton, an open, known, public communist, were brought before this court and charged with driving a herd of wild buffalos through Times Square on New Year’s Eve I would have been found “guilty.”


Every people has Judas’ and Black people are no exception

This brings us back to the basic question – what was I found “guilty” of? I was found “guilty” of having a political view that is not popular or acceptable in this country today – it’s as simple as that!

Now a few words about the State’s star witness. I will not dwell too long on this subject because, in the final analysis, it has very little importance.

I can only offer pity for Adolph Hart – pity as a human being, as a man, and, most of all, as a Black man.

In the history of mankind there have always been traitors and stool pigeons who have sold out their people for “20 pieces of gold,” and, in his case, it was for less. I very well understand that he is a sick man. Who else but a sick man would swear allegiance to a government and a system that has enslaved his people, murdered and raped his women, attempts to poison the minds of our children and make them into the image of Adolph Harts? Yes, only a sick man is capable of committing such a horrible act.

One can see as a perfect example a Jewish person or policeman, living in Germany during the reign of terror against the Jewish people, whose function was to betray and inform on his people to the nazis. But we know that history, and the people that make it, are the final judges of these modern-day quislings.

It makes me wonder about these people who have no friends except their fellow betrayers, who are not trusted by anyone because no one trusts a rat – not even those who hire them. They are loathed by society and are probably held in disdain by their own families.

It’s really not that important and I didn’t intend to use so many words on a non-entity, and to end this I must say that there have been many traitors before him and there will be many after him, but, if my knowledge of history and development of societies is correct, a traitor to his people has never stopped the march of his people to freedom and liberation.

He sleeps the sleep of a drugged man!

And now, I, Bill Epton, stand before the court – found “guilty” of being a communist, judged a “criminal” because I dared to fight back and called “dangerous” because I have ideas.

I told you what I have done, and yes, I have done all of these things proudly. I shall now tell you what I have not done and I am equally proud of that.


My hands are clean… can the U.S. Government say the same?

I have not murdered or enslaved 60 million African people!

I have not killed or enslaved one Cuban, one Puerto Rican, one Venezuelan, one Costa Rican or any Latin American!

I have not dropped an atomic bomb on any city! I have not used poison gas, napalm or weapons of genocide against the Vietnamese people!

I have not committed atrocities all over the world!

I have not used the Ku Klux Klan, the Minutemen or other such paramilitary organizations to carry out bombings, murders, terror and all kinds of atrocities, that equal nazi Germany, against the Black people and their allies!

I have not stuffed Black people into ghettos to live under inhumane conditions!

I did not create the condition in Harlem where tuberculosis maims and kills my people!

I did not create the condition in Harlem where the infant mortality rate is the highest in the state!

I did not create the condition in Harlem where children are graduated from school and are unable to read!

I did not create the condition in Harlem where rats bite children and run rampant!

I did not create the conditions in Harlem where one of the major business enterprises is the sale of narcotics with the connivance of the government and the Police Department!

I did not create the condition where the life expectancy of the Black man is at least seven years less than that of the white man!

I am not responsible for the high rate of unemployment and under-employment among my people!

I did not create police crime, corruption and terror in Harlem!

I have never taken the life of a white man or a Black man!

I have never taken any man’s life!

I have never committed one act that was not in the interest of my people!

I am what I am. I believe in what I believe and nothing will change that!

My hands are clean. I have no blood on them! Can the U.S. Government and its agents make these same statements?

You may put me in your jail, but you cannot stop the march of my people towards freedom and liberation, and in the final analysis, when the last and most important voice is heard – it will be the voice of the people who will make the ultimate judgment – not on me, but on the U.S. government and those who carry out its policies.

Statements Of Support And Solidarity

New York Civil Liberties Union

“…It is my opinion that he should not be held personally responsible for the Harlem riots of last year. If anybody is responsible, it is the City which permitted the conditions to arise in Harlem which were so conducive to the occurrence of the riot. I also believe that many of the overt acts charged against him constitute protected activity within the meaning of free speech as it is understood in the United States. We are of the opinion that the criminal anarchy statute is unconstitutional on its face because it abridges free speech, in that it seeks to punish advocacy as opposed to incitement…”

Henry M. di. Suvero
Staff Counsel

Ghana

“…I am distressed by the news of the attempts to railroad Bill Epton… and others as scapegoats, instead of tracing and eradicating the true causes of the troubles in Harlem. I feel confident that in the long run the public opinion of the saner and better elements of American life will grow and will prevail to the point where it can succeed both in improving the general situation and in securing the acquittal of all of you.

“In sincere sympathy with you all in what is the struggle for all of us.”

D.N. Pritt

New Zealand

“Indictment makes hypocrisy of Constitution, betraying principles of 1776.”

Workers Action Movement

Carl and Anne Braden

“We had thought that sedition and criminal anarchy statutes were outlawed.… We join in protest against the use of nullified laws, or any other kind of laws, to punish people for expressing their opinions. This is a wanton violation of the First Amendment… The denial of bail to Epton is also a violation of his constitutional rights and various court decisions.

“It appears that the common people are the only ones expected to abide by the Constitution and the decisions of the courts. Certainly the people in power do not support them.”

California

“Recognizing official efforts to silence Black militants within the nation, leaders of Los Angeles join (to) protest against the arrest and indictment of Mr. William Epton…

“The Black community of Los Angeles considers his arrest an affront to Black militants throughout the nation, and that a successful effort to silence one will lead toward the silencing of all.”

Watts Defense Committee

Teachers Association of Los Angeles

Los Angeles Ministerial Alliance

Bishop James Tyler

Inter-Faith Religious Council

Mexican-American Political Association

Dr. Marcus McBroom, Ph.D.

California State Assemblyman Ferrell

UCLA Students Political Action Committee

Negro Political Action Association (Ind.)

Friends of SNCC

“We deplore unfair attempt to squelch Black leadership in Harlem evidenced in Bill Epton’s conviction.”

Staff of Sacramento Friends of SNCC

Students for a Democratic Society

“William Epton is not responsible for the riots that occurred in Harlem, and he… is a scapegoat for the officials of New York City. The actual blame for the riot lies at the door of the exploiters and leeches who feed and live and even prosper on the poor of Harlem….”

Adam Pierce, Spokesman for SDS in Los Angeles

L.A. Non-Violent Action Committee

“When a white man kills a Negro, with the entire community as witness to the crime, tried by a white judge and jury, he goes free. A Negro merely raises his voice and goes to the defense of his… brothers and he is sent to jail as being dangerous. The affair of William Epton will be remembered by militants within the Negro community. The conviction is another one of the many disgraceful and shameful acts against the. Negro.

“How long will it be before the other Negro leaders will also be silenced?”

Robert Hall, Coordinator
Operation Bootstrap

Vietnam Day Committee

“The Harlem Rebellion during the summer of 1964 was the result of police brutality, high rents, crowded housing, unemployment and countless other indignities that the Black people of Harlem and other ghettoes throughout the United States are subjected to.

“During the rebellion, Bill Epton maintained that the people of Harlem had the right to actively demonstrate against the conditions under which they lived. Thus, Bill Epton was clearly framed.

“It is not coincidental that Bill Epton was convicted at the same time that radical opposition to the war in Vietnam has expanded, while the U.S. government intensifies this genocidal war against the Vietnamese people and is presently planning to escalate the war throughout Southeast Asia.

“Bill Epton strongly opposed the war and has urged his brothers not to fight against the people of Vietnam, stating that ‘the fight for freedom and liberation is right here in this country.’

“We demand the charges against Bill Epton be dropped and his conviction be reversed.

“We demand the immediate release of Mr. Epton.”

Clint Hobson, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

“They say ‘you’re embarrassing us.’ There’s not a Black man in the world we can embarrass. Can I embarrass those Black people in Mississippi, in Harlem, whose kids have no clothes?

“Is it embarrassing to talk about Watts?

“They’ve got a Bill Epton in Watts, but they haven’t found him yet!”

Jean Paul Sartre
Simone De Beauvoir

“We strongly protest persecution of Bill Epton.”

Cheddi Jagan, British Guiana

“We strongly condemn conspiracy of accusing Bill Epton of criminal anarchy re 1964 Harlem Rebellion. Demonstrates the failure of U.S. society to eradicate Jim Crow and discrimination. Urge immediate withdrawal of all charges.”

Peoples Progressive Party

Bertrand Russell

“I wholeheartedly condemn the shocking persecution in New York of those who speak up in behalf of the oppressed Negroes in Harlem.

“Nothing more clearly indicates the hand of oppression in America than the indictment of American radicals for having instigated these riots…

“The Grand Jury has returned these indictments…

“Were I in New York, I should certainly be guilty of trying to overthrow the Government of the State of New York. Anything less is an evasion of responsibility in the face of brutality and injustice.”

National Liberation Front of South Vietnam

“We deem that this new act of repression against the black liberation and the growing anti-imperialist movement in the U.S.A. once again exposes the reactionary nature of the U.S. government which in its home policy, is violating the rights to independence and freedom of other nations, as is the case of Viet-Nam.

“It further shows that the more aggressive is the foreign policy of a government, the more anti-democratic is its home policy and vice-versa.

“We strongly protest against the unjustifiable arrest and trial of Bill Epton on the ground of trumped-up charges and demand his immediate release by the U.S. authorities. We call upon all justice-loving people in the U.S.A. and in the world to raise their voice of opposition to this effect as they have raised their voice to protest against the aggressive war waged by the U.S. imperialists in Vietnam.

“We believe that the voice of justice will triumph over the voice of tyranny.”

Huynh van Tam

Juan Antonio Corretjer
Students for a Democratic Society
Cheddi Jagan
Local 1199, RWDSU, AFL-CIO
Bertrand Russell
Bayard Rustin
Peter Weiss
Jean Paul Sartre
Vietnam Day Committee
Friends of SNCC (Sacramento, Calif.)
Workers Action Movement (New Zealand)
Simone de Beauvoir
International Students in Paris
D.N. Pritt (Ghana)
Progressive Workers Movement (Canada)
Socialist League of Puerto Rico
Amnesty International
Robert Hall, Watts Non-violent Action Committee
South Vietnam National Liberation Front
Watts Defense Committee
Teachers Association of Los Angeles
Assemblyman Ferrell
Peking Peoples’ Daily
Staughton Lynd
Anne and Carl Braden
Stan Steele
Los Angeles Ministerial Alliance
Mexican-American Political Association
Negro Political Action Association
Bishop James Tyler
People’s Progressive Party
Independent Political Action Committee
Dr. Clark Foreman
Chinese Association of Political Science and Law
Clint Hobson
Dr. Tom Brewer
Indian Association of Britain
Mark Comfort
New Left Review
Council of African Organizations

These people added their names for the defense of Bill Epton. Won’t you help by sending contributions to CERGE (Committee to Defend Resistance to Ghetto Life)?

Click here to return to the U.S. Index

Source: https://www.mltranslations.org/US/epton.htma 

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A TALK ASSATA SHAKUR SOMEWHERE IN CUBA – (1995)

Click to access 513.Assata.Somewhere.in.Cuba.1995.pdf

The Importance of Assata Shakur Liberation From Prison  – Haki Shakur 

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The Fear of Black Men Being Pulled Over By Police 1992-04-11 / Ronald Ray Howard Shoots a Texas Trooper While Listening 2Pacalypse Now’s Album

In April 11, 1992, Ronald Ray Howard, aged 19, shoots a Texas trooper. Howard’s attorney claims 2Pacalypse Now incited him to kill.

On June 30, 1993, Ronald Ray Howard was convicted of murder.

‘The music affected me,’ says Ronald Ray Howard. ‘That’s how it was that night I shot the trooper.

On July 14, 1993, Ronald Ray Howard is sentenced to death for the murder of Texas State Trooper BIll Daivdson.

The Texas teen-ager is also haunted by a second memory from that tragic night: the angry rap music blasting from the tape deck as he pulled the trigger–music his attorney claimed was partially responsible for the slaying.

“The music was up as loud as it could go with gunshots and siren noises on it and my heart was pounding hard,” said Howard, speaking in the Travis County jail a couple of weeks before the sentencing, while recounting the night of April 11, 1992. “I watched him get out of his car in my side view mirror, and I was so hyped up, I just snapped. I jacked a bullet in the chamber and when he was close enough, I turned around and bam! I shot him.”


2Pac Soulja’s Story 


The cold-blooded killing of 43-year-old state trooper Bill Davidson sent a shudder through the music industry last year after Howard told authorities he was listening to Oakland rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur’s violence-laced “2PACALYPSE NOW” cassette during the homicide and thought it might have influenced his actions.

Howard’s lawyer tried to prove such a connection in this case. Describing the 19-year-old Howard as a “rap addict who lived, breathed and worshiped” the violent lifestyle portrayed in gangsta rap, Allen Tanner played jurors some of Howard’s favorite “cop-killing” songs by such artists as Shakur, the Geto Boys, Ice Cube, Ganksta N-I-P and N.W.A. Many of the compositions contain bloody depictions of urban violence.

But the eight-man, four-woman, mostly white and middle-aged jury–who convicted Howard June 8 of capital murder and deliberated for six days whether he should die by lethal injection–apparently did not buy the argument. However, twice during the sentencing deliberations, the jury reported it was deadlocked prior to reaching its decision. Tanner intends to appeal the death penalty decision.

“I feel real bad about this,” Howard said Wednesday. “I guess I’ll just have to deal with it. I saw my mom and my grandmother in court and I just told them to keep praying.”

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Bill Davidson stopped a vehicle on U.S. 59 in Jackson County for having a broken headlight.

The driver of the vehicle, Ronald Ray Howard, shot Davidson in the neck. The vehicle Howard was driving was stolen.

Howard fled the scene of the shooting, but he was arrested within a couple of hours with the murder weapon, a nine millimeter handgun loaded with hollow point bullets, in his possession.

Howard confessed to killing the trooper and repeated his confession to a grand jury.

Ronald Ray Howard’s Final Words:

Source: murderpedia.org

Asked if he had a final statement, Howard looked at the victim’s family and said he hoped that “this helps a little. I don’t know how, but I hope it helps.” Then he turned to friends and a brother who were among his witnesses, expressing love and thanking them for finding two of his children, who visited him on death row within the past week. “Love you all. Thank you so much,” he said. As the drugs were administered, he lifted his head from the gurney and mouthed that he loved them, urged them to be strong and said “I’m going home.”

The Miseducation of 2Pac – Haki Shakur 

 



Source: https://2paclegacy.net/1992-04-11-ronald-ray-howard-shoots-a-texas-trooper/


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Communique of The BLA ( Black Liberation Army ) The Olugbala Tribe

COMMUNIQUE NO. 3 AUGUST 71


We, of the Black Liberation Army do relate to the desire of the people to gain freedom, and we do condemn the efforts by the power structure to suppress those of the Republic of New Africa (RNA) who are striving to acquire land in Hinds County Mississippi. THEIR STRUGGLE IS OUR STRUGGLE; THEIR FREEDOM IS OUR FREEDOM; THEIR BLOOD IS OUR BLOOD. So, let it be known that if one drop of Black Blood is shed, the sons and daughters of Malcolm will rise and pig blood will flow like a river wherever pigs exist. Woe unto those who cannot swim. ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE  BLACK LIBERATION ARMY

 

COMMUNIQUE NO. 1 MAY 1971 

ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Here are the license plates sort after by the fascist state pig police. We send them in order to exhibit the potential power of oppressed people to acquire REVOLUTIONARY JUSTICE. The armd goons of this fascist government will again meet the guns of oppressed third world peoples as long as they occupy our community and murder our brothers and sisters in the name of AMERICAN LAW AND ORDER; just as the fascist Marines and Irmy occupy Vietnam in the name of democracy and murder Vietnamese people in the name of American imperialismare confronted with the guns of the Vietnamese Liberation Army, the domestic armed forces of racism and oppression will be confronted with the guns of the BLACK LIBERATION ARMY, who will mete out in the tradition of Malcolm and all true revolutionaries real justice.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE JUSTICE


COMMUNIQUE NO. 4 JAN 1972 


This is from the George Jackson Squad of the BLACK LIBERATION ARMY about the pigs wiped out in lower Manhattan last night. For too long black people have been callously murdered for the sake of property. Never again! For everyone of us that are murdered two of you will die. Think about it! No longer will we tolerate Attica and oppression and exploitation and rape of our Black com-
munity. This is the start of our spring offensive. We also dealt with the pigs in stores and social clubs just isn’t our stick. Now we do stick up, because the revolution needs money. But we do ntt rob from our own people or any third world people. How do we look tating $80 dollars from a grocery store, when we can go down to CHASE MANHATTAN’S and take $60thousand dollars? (Can you dig it?) Once again we deny robbing that grocery store for $80 dollars, and we also deny sticking up some social club that we were supposed to have killed some blood in. We do not rob or kill tMrd world people, it’s agains our principles. Now Tie donjt deny killing pigs or any other oppressive forces in the Black community. Yes,we take credit for killing pigs, bank robberies, jail breaks, sky jackings, etc. We also take credit for the recent ambushes on the pigs. The ambushes were sincere attempts to take them off the count. And our reason for trying to kill them pigs was to revenge our dead comrades CHANGA OLUGBALA (Woodie Green) and KIMU OLUGBALA (Anthony White) who were murdered by pigs both whiteys and niggers, in a Brooklyn bar. Due to the unfortunate outcome of the ambushes they haven’t been avenged YET!I We will say it again so there’s no confusion or misunderstanding. We did not rob any blood in Harlem or at social club. In dealing with those robberies we’ve been so falsely accused of, let’s look at it logically and be realistic about Banks are more feasible than grocery stores and social clubs.

legacy & lessons of The Black Liberation Army Recounted By Haki Kweli Shakur 

COMMUNIQUE NO. 12 

“THIS IS THE DAY OF THE GUERRILLA” OLUGBALA TRIBE of the BLACK LIBERATION ARMY EULOGT: DEDANE OLUGBALA A/K/A ZAYD MALK SHAKUR Comrade DEDANE OLUGBALA a/k/a ZAYD MALK SHAKUR like many other revolu- tionaries has paid the supreme sacrifice, for the liberation of his people. The blood was no super nigger, or super star. He was just a nigger that was tired of the racist pig cops, shooting down unarmed Brothers and Sisters in the street, such as the recent murder of 10 year old Clifford Glover. The BRother wanted an immediate end to the murders and brutalities committed on our People by racist policemen. He felt that the only way to end such conditions as police oppression was through revolution and not a Kneegrow revolution either, but through a violent sad bloody revolution. The brother related to the teachings and speeches of Malcolm. He related to

Page—6
the words of Malcolm. Malcolm said we should speak the language of the oppressor. If the oppressor’speaks the language of a shotgun, then we should speak the language. So the Brother spoke the language of our oppressor. The blood realised that Peace was not the correct method to use against these pigs in Babylon. The nigger felt the correct method for obtaining liberation here in Babylon was through revolutionary violence. He used this revolutionay violence to try and put an end to substandard housing; and end to the illegal lynchings of niggers by the court system; and end to the inhumane prison conditions; prisons, where 90% of the population are niggers and Third world people and an end to the massive genocide being waged on niggers. To sum it all up, the Brother, as a guerrilla, was using this revolutionary violence to end all oppression that our People are subjected to. Brother DEDANS OLUGBALA realised that one day, in the course of waging guerrilla warfare against the pigs, that he would have to deal with the pigs in a duel for his Mfe. One day he would be faced with the situation of him throwing up his hands and going to prison, or to the OK carral with the pigs. The blood like many other guerrillas warriors experienced the horrors of prison, or heard someone rap about rprison, and decided was no place for him. The Brother vowed never to return to of prison. He kept his vow, #he has escaped to freedom. If freedom is death, then by death one will escape to freedom. So long live the spirit of DEDANE OLUGBALA a/k/a ZAID HE will be missed and remembered along with the others who in this revolutionary struggle,, He is a martyr in our eyes be forgotten. We will bury our dead, clean our guns, and prepare for the next battle. Brothers and sisters, if his death is not be be in vain, new hands must reach out to pick up his gun, to intone his funeral dirge with the staccato ofmachine-gunfire.
SURVIVAL BLACK LIBERATION ARMY UNITY RESISTANCE AND that prison the cold walls the penalty for MALIK SHAKUR. have fallen and v/ill never VICTORY‼️

source

Click to access 513.BLA.communiques.pdf

 

 

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Mayor Levar Stoney & Mayoral Candidates Endorse Community Generated Memorial Park for Shockoe Bottom

 

 


Hello, all.

 

On May 23, Mayor Levar Stoney publicly endorsed the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park and asked that the Memorial Park concept be made a part of the Shockoe Bottom Small Area Plan, the City of Richmond’s official land-use plan. In fact, all four of Richmond’s mayoral candidates have endorsed the Memorial Park (see the Sacred Ground Project’s release below).

 

Mayor Stoney’s endorsement reads, in part: “I fully support the establishment of such an inclusive Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park and have requested that the Shockoe Alliance – a collective group of city and community stakeholders that I convened in 2018 to focus on memorialization, preservation and equitable development in Shockoe Bottom – incorporate this concept into the Small Area Plan for Shockoe Bottom.”

 

Credit for this milestone goes, of course, to the community members – in Richmond and across the nation — who have spoken up for truth, healing, and history.

 

Regards, — Rob Nieweg

 

PS: Please visit Preservation Virginia’s webpage to review the important economic benefits of creating a Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park. Here is the 2019 economic study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis and funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

 

Rob Nieweg | INTERIM VICE PRESIDENT for FIELD SERVICES

rnieweg@savingplaces.org

 

NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION

The Watergate Office Building 

2600 Virginia Avenue NW Suite 1100 Washington, DC 20037

SavingPlaces.org

 

————————-

 

MEDIA RELEASE from the 

Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project

of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

PO Box 23202, Richmond, VA 23223   *   Ph: 804.644.5834   *  Email: DefendersFJE@hotmail.com

 Web: www.sacredgroundproject.net/  – www.DefendersFJE.blogspot.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 23, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT: Ana Edwards – email:sacredgroundproject@gmail.com

 

ALL FOUR RICHMOND MAYORAL CANDIDATES HAVE NOW ENDORSED 

THE COMMUNITY PROPOSAL FOR A 

9-ACRE SHOCKOE BOTTOM MEMORIAL PARK

 

All four announced candidates for the November 2020 election for mayor of Richmond have now declared their support for the community-generated proposal for a nine-acre Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park. 

 

With his statement today, Mayor Levar Stoney joins longtime memorial park supporter Richmond City Councilwoman Kimberly Gray and more recent supporters attorney Justin Griffin and entertainment promoter Tracey McLean in endorsing the community proposal designed to properly memorialize the downtown district that once was the epicenter of the U.S. domestic slave trade.

 

Significantly, Mayor Stoney’s statement includes support for incorporating into the memorial park the three physical elements that make up the proposal: the 3.1-acre African Burial Ground; the 1.7-acre site of Robert Lumpkin’s slave jail, known as the Devil’s Half-Acre; and the two blocks east of the CSX railroad tracks between East Broad, East Grace and 17th streets where several other slave jails and other significant slave-trade-related sites once were located. 

 

The mayor’s statement also calls for including the park proposal in the Shockoe Bottom small-area plan now being developed by the Shockoe Alliance advisory group. It also calls for the city to provide financial support for the park’s development, while acknowledging the limitations the city is now facing in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Commenting on the endorsements, Sacred Ground Project Chair Ana Edwards said, “This now-unanimous endorsement of the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park proposal by all four declared mayoral candidates marks a significant step forward in the decades-long community struggle to reclaim and properly memorialize Shockoe Bottom, which for the three decades before the Civil War was the epicenter of the U.S. domestic slave trade. 

 

“The Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project looks forward to working with all other interested parties, and in particular Richmond’s Black community, in making the vision of the memorial park a reality. Throughout this work, we will follow our commitment to respect the right to self-determination for oppressed peoples by continuing to promote the view that the descendant community must have the primary voice in, and reap the primary financial benefits from, the development of this sacred ground. 

 

“Moving forward in these concrete ways will help ensure that Richmond can approach its 300th anniversary having honestly confronted its shameful past, while moving forward to a more justice-oriented future.”

 

The Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project was founded in 2004 to guide the ongoing work of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality to reclaim and properly memorialize Shockoe Bottom, once the epicenter of the U.S. domestic slave trade. 

 

________________________________________________________________

 

Copies of all four mayoral candidate statements, in alphabetical order:

 

KIMBERLY GRAY

 

W.E.B. Du Bois eloquently said. “The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.” As I think about this particular quote, it is without hesitation that I vehemently support a Slavery Memorial Park in Richmond. Very rarely do we have “real talk” about the atrocities of slavery and the generational consequences of bondage. A memorial park at the site of Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom that was central to the American slave trade must be a gathering place for all to remember, reflect, heal, and honor the lives of the men, women and children who were sold into bondage.  

 

I recognize that for many Richmonders, the history of the South is extremely difficult to talk about. Like so many schoolchildren, I learned of certain African-Americans and their contributions in February for Black History Month. As an adult, I have spent considerable time researching my family’s history. Not surprising, I am the descendant of enslaved people who likely experienced the slave market in Shockoe, known as the Devil’s Half-Acre.  

 

In the present day, too many children and adults are not knowledgeable about the important role slavery played in determining America’s path and the impact slavery still has on race relations, the economy and many other societal inequities. It is a hard traumatic discussion!  Trauma generates emotions and unless we process these emotions, the trauma stays with us. The Memorial Park is one of the greatest opportunities we have to tell the full history of African-Americans and begin the healing process for both the descendants of enslaved people and enslavers.  

 

Lastly, not only would the Memorial Park stand as an example of the importance of sacred sites in America, it provides a historic resource for future generations to remember the past. 

 

JUSTIN GRIFFIN

 

I absolutely endorse the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park proposal. If elected, I would champion the plan and make it a reality.

 

Imagine if we had spent as much time, money, and other resources on the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park as we did on the Navy Hill arena proposal.

 

I believe where you spend your time and money shows what you value. Richmond has a priorities problem, and it shows in the lack of attention to Shockoe Bottom.

 

Richmond should do everything it can to take its rightful place as the center of black history by telling the stories that deserve to be told but aren’t. Shockoe Bottom, the slave trade, and the birth of Virginia Union University from Lumpkin’s Jail after the Civil War should be the first step in that process.

 

This vision of Richmond’s future also should include a National Slave Museum and projects to depict Jackson Ward at its height.

 

The fact that the Memorial Park covers learning, remembering, reflecting, gathering, economic development, and economic empowerment shows that this plan is well-thought out, thoroughly considered, and was inclusively developed.

 

The Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park is not just a plan to remember our past but is a plan to build up our future.

 

I firmly believe that we must start today systematically building up this generation of Richmonders whose ancestors were systematically torn down. This plan does that in more ways than one.

 

Building the Memorial Park would not only be a great thing for Richmond, but for the entire country. It is amazing to me that the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park and the stories it would tell have been ignored by our elected officials. We deserve better. 

 

TRACEY MCLEAN

 

I would like to state for the record that I agree with this project, for more reasons than one. I would like to see this project be pushed forward towards completion. 

 

This Historical Project is beneficial to all of us. There is no reason not to support this project, when there has been a lot of support for things like breweries that only hold a financial significance, whereas this project holds historical, financial and possible healing for the Commonwealth.  

 

LEVAR STONEY

 

Throughout my time as Mayor, I have always supported efforts to tell the complete narrative of the dark and traumatic history of slavery in Richmond, to uplift inspiring stories of resistance – such as that of Brother Gabriel – and generate opportunities for equitable development that prioritize the preservation of our historic and sacred sites.

 

I am committed to continuing to work in partnership with key voices who have for years and decades dedicated themselves to ensuring Richmond’s story of strength and resilience is told, preserved, respected  and celebrated. These voices include leaders such as Delegate Delores McQuinn, City Council President Cynthia Newbille, Reverend Sylvester “Tee” Turner – along with other members of the Slave Trail Commission – as well as Ana Edwards of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project and others whose longtime work and passion have been focused on transforming Shockoe Bottom into a place that properly honors our enslaved African ancestors and freedom fighters and offers opportunities for education and hope for generations to come.

 

I am confident that we can and will make this happen in an innovative, inclusive and collaborative way. The creation of a Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park –  to serve as a site of conscience, memorialization, reflection and education through both greenspace and structural sites such as a heritage interpretive center or museum – gives us the opportunity to do just that. Such a space would encompass the sacred African Ancestral Burial Ground, the Lumpkin’s Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site and the two blocks east of the railroad tracks that contain significant, historical sites with future archaeological potential. This endeavor will help ensure we preserve and protect our hallowed spaces in Shockoe Bottom while providing an opportunity for Richmond residents and visitors to deepen their connection with the historical and cultural sacredness of the area and be inspired by the spirit and stories of our ancestors to fight the injustices of today.

 

I fully support the establishment of such an inclusive Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park and have requested that the Shockoe Alliance – a collective group of city and community stakeholders that I convened in 2018 to focus on memorialization, preservation and equitable development in Shockoe Bottom – incorporate this concept into the Small Area Plan for Shockoe Bottom.Richmond’s story of historic trauma and supreme resilience is a global one and it is time that we truly recognize and elevate our collective story in a way that will honor our enslaved ancestors who built this city and nation, and empower future generations. Once the epicenter of the insidious institution of slavery where women, men and children were tortured, bought and sold, Richmond will not only move toward more fully preserving our sacred spaces and telling a more holistic story of our past, but will continue to strive toward being an epicenter of hope, transformation, equity and justice.

 

The creation of a Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park will be a tremendous undertaking for our city, particularly the construction of what could be an extraordinary heritage center or museum, and will require that we all come together with the necessary resources to make it happen. Over the last several months, the City of Richmond has been diligently working to address the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial disparities both created and illuminated by this health crisis. The economic impact of this pandemic has forced us to make major adjustments to our city’s budget, however, I am committed to doing what we can to turn this unique, collective vision into reality. This endeavor undoubtedly calls for a collaborative, community approach from a variety of stakeholders in order to bring this extraordinary vision into fruition. I am grateful for the continuous dedication of our local and state leaders, community advocates and organizations such as Preservation Virginia and the National Trust for Historic Preservation who work to ensure that the rich historical narratives and powerful legacies of our fearless ancestors are never forgotten and that the spaces and places on which they lived, struggled, endured and triumphed are respected, honored and used to propel us into a better, more just tomorrow. I look forward to standing alongside all who are ready to make this important work happen. It is time.

 

– end –