Negroes with Guns

Negroes1..

Robert Williams, as an ex-Marine recently discharged from duty, returned to his hometown of Monroe North Carolina at just about the same time as the historic Supreme Court desegregation decision. When he tried to join the local NAACP chapter, he found that it was shrinking rapidly, like many others, because of intimidation from racists enraged by the Supreme Court’s decision. The remaining chapter members elected Williams president and then quit. Within a couple of years of this terrible start, Williams’s chapter had successfully gained the integration of the public library with a hardy fight; other successes were to follow. Instead of relying on the Black middle-class, the traditional members of the NAACP, Williams had recruited heavily the Black poor and working classes. Their chapter quickly gained a reputation of strength and of not relying on standard middle class methods.

Guns have always been common in the South, both Blacks and whites frequently had them and used them. However, organized groups engaging in armed self defense of the Black community were generally rare since Reconstruction. Yet organized armed self defense was one of the main strategies that the Monroe chapter developed in its work. The first major test of this strategy was in the summer of 1957 when a Klu Klux Klan caravan attempted to attack a chapter member’s home. The chapter was prepared and armed, and after a gun battle with no casualties, the Klan fled.

Williams is careful to point out that the Monroe chapter had reputedly requested that the authorities from city to federal level stop the Klan’s intimidation, of course no one acted and the federal government didn’t even respond. He also points out that after the gunfight, the city government moved rapidly to ban any Klan demonstration without a special permit. Williams goes on to say that two weeks later the same Klan group attempted to attack the nearby Lumbee Native American community where they were chased off again by gunfire. This second incident received national attention while the confrontation in Monroe was mostly ignored.

Relations between the Monroe chapter and the middle-class dominated national headquarters of the NAACP had always been tense since Williams joined and this conflict came to a head in 1959. A white man was put on trial for the vicious rape of a Black woman. A white woman testified on the Black woman’s behalf and the Monroe chapter secured a lawyer from New York to help. It was to no avail. A conviction was impossible in the extreme racist atmosphere. Williams relates that many of the Black women demanded to know what the Black community should do now. Before the trial Williams had encouraged the community to use the legal system, but to respond to this pressure and to make sure racists knew it wasn’t going to be open season on Blacks, he released a statement that, among other things, declared “…the Negro in the South can not expect justice in the courts. He must convict his attackers on the spot, he must meet violence with violence…” The statement received national attention and criticism. Roy Wilkins, the head of the NAACP, acted immediately and suspended Williams.

Robert..

In spite of controversy, the Monroe chapter continued to have success. They participated in the wave of sit-ins across the South in 1960 to desegregate public facilities. While severe violence occurred in other areas, nothing of the kind occurred in Monroe, which Williams puts to their record of successful self defense. During the campaign to desegregate the Monroe swimming pool, however, racist whites “went wild.” Three different attempts on Williams’s life were made. During one especially harrowing incident a mob formed around Williams’s car after it had just been rammed by a racist’s car. Williams and other NAACP members in the car stood off the mob using guns (several racists also had guns) and even prevented themselves from being disarmed by the local police. The state police finally cleared the mob to prevent a blood bath.

Up to this point in the story, Williams has carefully explained how the intelligent use of self defense has not only saved the lives of many Blacks, but actually prevented much violence from occurring in the first place. In an isolated town where blacks were only a quarter of the population they had matched all the major achievements of the mainstream civil rights movement. Now in 1961, the strategies of the middle-class dominated national movement would be contrasted with that of the Monroe’s local movement in Monroe itself. By this time the Monroe chapter had come up with a series of demands including heavy emphasis on economic demands, which was years ahead of most other groups. The chapter was prepared for long-term struggle but still welcomed help in whatever way it came. Help did come from the “Freedom Ride” campaign. Unfortunately this nationally coordinated campaign did not respect the tactics that the local community had developed. The Freedom Riders, which included many whites, immediately made a public pledge of nonviolence upon arrival. Williams describes how he believes this, and the riders’ passive behavior, was responsible for a dramatic rise in racist attacks including many on the Riders themselves. The descriptions of paternalism from some of the white Freedom Riders are laughable but the descriptions of violence are not. In response to a protest at the courthouse, thousands of racists came from miles around, many of them encouraged to come by local police. This mob was the culmination of a week of threats and beatings. Some of the Freedom Riders were rescued by armed Blacks in cars, others were beaten and arrested. The mob proceeded to attack any Blacks they could find and when night came, racists began attacking the Black section of town. Again, armed Blacks held off white attacks. Williams, however, received phoned death threats from the police chief and decided to leave town to get help. Shortly afterwards, he learned of his indictment on trumped up charges and fled to Canada and then Cuba.

Cuba gave Williams a base from which to publish his newsletter, “The Crusader,” and organized world-wide support for other Blacks framed up on racist charges in Monroe and elsewhere. He also pushed for the building of links between Blacks in the U.S., and people of color throughout the world. This anti-imperialist position was, like many of Williams’s other positions, ahead of its time. Several years later, Williams returned to the U.S. and helped to found the Republic of New Afrika, which incorporated his self defense theories from the start.

The accepted version, even among many radicals, of the history of the Black liberation movement of the sixties is that non-violence worked against blatantly racist Jim Crow laws in the South, but were inadequate to deal with the deeper, more subtle economic inequalities in the North, where frustrated Blacks turned to organizers like the Black Panthers. The truth which “Negroes with Guns” help shows is that non-violence, by itself, wasn’t even adequate against Jim Crow.

Other histories of the civil rights struggle support this alternative view. In “Struggle” by Clayborn Carson, an acclaimed history of SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), Carson states, “the relative paucity of violence in some communities was attributed by SNCC workers not to the Federal presence, but to the willingness of Black to arm themselves.” In 1965, on the civil rights march through Mississippi, armed guard was provided by the Deacons For Defense, a Black self defense group. Even Martin Luther King, a participant, consented to this when it was clear that self defense was what marchers wanted. Possibly the best example was the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, in Alabama. Their militant armed stance and symbol – the black panther – served as direct inspiration for California’s Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

Neither Robert Williams nor the organizations listed above confused legal armed self defense with armed insurrection or guerrilla struggle. All supported mass organizing of all kinds, including non-violent civil disobedience. However they believed they could not trust authorities and recognized that the discipline and pride that came from effective self defense was essential in all levels of struggle. It is possible though, that many of these activists believed that offensive armed action would be needed someday and they would be better prepared than most. Williams in particular, who traveled to Cuba as early as 1960, was probably weighing these possibilities.

Increasingly, many today feel the same way. Once again, grotesque racist murders by police and racists are in the news along with Black organizations proclaiming their right to armed self defense. Sadly, the response by liberals is often the same as it was in 1960, declaring self defense to be “proactive” and “divisive”. these are easy statements to make from a position of privilege, but the facts show, that right wing violence is rising across the board. Anti-abortion violence, homophobic violence and violence against immigrants is chronic and the state, as it always will, fails to provide adequate protection. When this is the situation, armed self defense must be at least part of the discussion of how to respond. For this reason, “Negroes with Guns” is required reading for all progressive and revolutionary activists.

Stokely Speaks: Black Power to Pan Africanism

Stokely speaks...

This remarkable collection of speeches and essays originally published in 1971 by one of the significant figures to emerge during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s in the United States, has been re-issued in a time period where the ideas put forward between 1965-1971 are just as important today as they were then. The questions of who is qualified to run society and government, the role of resistance in the struggle for genuine democracy, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the role of people in the west in regard to revolutions taking place in the so-called Third World and Pan-Africanism.

With a forward by award-winning journalist from death row, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the book illustrates that it is not only a historical document but a living work in the service of not only understanding the past but bringing its weight to the contemporary challenges faced by conscious people in the 21st Century. In addition, Bob Brown’s preface to this new issue lends the credibility needed from someone who was influenced heavily by Carmichael (Ture) and worked closely with him for over three decades.

Mumia’s points to the importance of the book from someone who was younger than Carmichael but who was influenced by the political tendencies that he was instrumental in developing. Jamal was a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Panther Party from 1968. He admits that the split within the Black Panther Party in 1969 tainted his earlier view of Carmichael. However, he regrets that things were not different and that how much stronger the revolutionary movement may have been if these differences had not become antagonistic:

” …what would history have been if Ture did not leave the Party? What if the Party was big enough, strong enough, mature enough to include his insights into their own? Ture writes (in “Pan-Africanism”) of the “ideological issues” that separated him from the Party. Although he is not explicit, the issue was working with white radicals, something Ture found untenable. Ironically, the ideological positions between Huey P. Newton and Stokely Carmichael were perhaps closer than first thought. As early as 1971, Newton recognized that the Party’s work with white radicals was unproductive, for “White radicals did not give us access to the White community.” One cannot read Stokely’s trenchant analysis of white liberalism without coming to the same conclusion (see his January 1969 speech, “The Pitfalls of Liberalism”).”

As early as 1966, Carmichael was articulating a view that foresaw the protracted nature of national and class politics in the United States. During the recent period there have been vicious attacks on the political gains made by Africans in America during the civil rights and black power movements of the 1950s through the 1970s. Illustrating this clearly is the recent passage in the state of Michigan of a ballot initiative that changed the constitution to effectively outlaw affirmative action. This took place in the aftermath of a Supreme Court decision in 2003 upholding in principle of the use of race as a deciding factor in both undergraduate and graduate/professional school admissions.

The central role of education in the process of national discrimination or institutional racism is pointed out in the essay entitled: “Who Is Qualified?” originally published in the January 8, 1966 issue of the New Republic. It was written at a time when Carmichael was organizing in Lowndes County, Alabama where the first Black Panther Party was formed with the explicit purpose of building an independent political force backed up by the armed will of the people to defend themselves against racist terror.

In regard to the undemocratic character of the distribution of educational resources in the United States, Carmichael writes that: “The panacea for lack of opportunity is education, as is the panacea for prejudice. But just how available is it? If every sixteen-year-old in the nation were motivated to attend high school, he could not: there are not enough schools, not enough physical space. As for college, less than one-quarter of the population ever gets there. The financial barrier is too high; even the cheapest state college charges fees which are impossible for the poor. Scholarships serve only the gifted. To make matters worse, many universities and colleges are already fighting off the mob by making entry more difficult. It is getting harder, not easier, for the poor to be included here. For the Negro, there is an additional problem. He is not psychologically attuned to think of college as a goal. Society has taught him to set short sights for himself, and so he does.”

In the essay entitled: “Power and Racism”, which initially appeared in the New York Review of Books in September of 1966, explains how this structural oppression of African people spawns resistance. He criticizes the purported non-violent character of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. He points to the dialetical relationship between the government’s response to the demands of the movement during its early phase to the eruption of urban rebellions which he explains are the natural outcome of the lack of response to peaceful protests:

“None of its so-called leaders could go into a rioting community and be listened to. In a sense, I blame ourselves–together with the mass media–for what has happened in Watts, Harlem, Chicago, Cleveland and Omaha. Each time the people in those cities saw Martin Luther King get slapped, they became angry; when they saw four little black girls bombed to death, they were angrier; and when nothing happened, they were steaming. We had nothing to offer that they could see, except to go out and be beaten again. We helped build their frustration.”

In providing a working definition of black power as an ideology and political program to counter the perceived weakness of the civil rights movement, Carmichael says later on in this same essay “Power and Racism” that: “This is what they seek: control. Where Negroes lack a majority, Black Power means proper representation and sharing of control. It means the creation of power bases from which black people can work to change statewide or nationwide patterns of oppression through pressure from strength–instead of weakness. Politically, Black Power means what it has always meant to SNCC: the coming together of black people to elect representatives and to force those representatives to speak to their needs. It does not mean merely putting black faces into office. A man or woman who is black and from the slums cannot be automatically expected to speak to the needs of black people. Most of the black politicians we see around the country today are not what SNCC means by Black Power. The power must be that of a community, and emanate from there.”

Some four decades later Africans in America have not realized this form of politics which is first and foremost designed to serve the immediate interests and needs of the community. In addition, to the domestic agenda involving education, political power and self-organization, the foreign policy of the United States reflects the internal racism and national oppression against Africans and other oppressed peoples. This is why Carmichael would accept an invitation to address the First Conference of the Organization of Latin American Solidarity in Cuba during July of 1967.

Carmichael begins this chapter entitled: “Solidarity With Latin America”, by stating forthrightly that Africans in the United States share common interests with the peoples of South America and its environs. He says that: “We share with you a common struggle, it becomes increasingly clear; we have a common enemy. Our enemy is white Western imperialist society. Our struggle is to overthrow this system that feeds itself and expands itself through the economic and cultural exploitation of non-white, non-Western peoples–of the Third World.”

These words are still relevant today in light of the continuing threats by US imperialism against the sovereignty of the Cuban Revolution. This lack of respect for Cuban independence is also represented by the continuing occupation of Guantanamo Bay as a naval base on that Caribbean island. One of the most egregious violations of human rights and the dignity of people has been the existence of torture camps where hundreds are held without charge or trial.

In the continental United States a burgeoning immigrant rights movement during 2006 has exploded and opened new avenues for solidarity and mass struggle. The resurrection of May Day in the country where it was formed has once again in the 21st Century been made a reality by recent immigrants as it was during the 19th Century with immigrants from Germany, Ireland and other European nations.

In another significant solidarity effort that has remained essential from the 1960s to the 21st Century is of course the question of the Palestinian’s right of return as well as national independence through the realization of a independent state for the Palestinian people. Carmichael in his address to the Organization of Arab Students in Ann Arbor, Michigan in August of 1968, he lays out the case for African-American solidarity with the Palestinian Revolution. He offers a serious critique of Zionism and the role of the propaganda put forward by this movement that seeks to win sympathy for the continued occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of self-determination for this oppressed and colonized people.

Carmichael says that:”Zionists have a very effective, offensive propaganda. They state their propaganda and everyone accepts it as the truth and they put on the defensive anyone who tries to even question their propaganda by calling him anti-Semitic. It’s a very, very good trick: nobody wants to be anti-Semitic, nobody wants to hate people merely because of their race. The way we found to counteract the offensive propaganda of the Zionists is to state our propaganda, and state it offensively, and state ours as the truth, and not bow down or question or quibble with the Zionists’ propaganda; that is the only way we have found to be able to deal with them. If the Zionists assert that they have a right to Israel, then we assert that the Palestinians have a right to Palestine. And once we assert that, there is never room for discussion. But once we assert that the Palestinians have a right to Palestine because it belongs to them, then there can be room for discussion in this country. That is precisely what we did: try very hard to calculate assertions that would for once put the Zionists on the defensive in this country and let them back up their so-called State of Israel, which we all know to be an unjust and certainly immoral state.”

In 2006 there was the blanket bombing of southern Lebanon by Israel. The United States Senate passed a resolution without opposition supporting this military action that was condemned by people throughout the region and to an increasing degree by popular organizations inside this country. It is the funding from American taxpayers that supply the F-15 and F-16 fighter planes which bomb Lebanon under the guise of fighting the falsely-labelled Hezbullah Party as terrorists.

Even a former US President is attacked by the pro-Israeli lobby and sections of the ruling class for publishing a book describing the social system in occupied Palestine as apartheid-like in its character. Consequently, the notion of solidarity between Africans in the United States and Palestinians goes to heart of challenging the imperialist’s aim of dominating the middle-east through the notion of protecting the security of Israel, a settler-colonial state.

By 1969, Carmichael had re-located in the west African nation of Guinea-Conakry, then under the leadership of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) headed by President Ahmed Sekou Toure. Pan-Africanism utilizes as a principle tenet the international character of the black struggle, the identity of these peoples as Africans and the unity of peoples of African descent around the world.

In a “Message from Guinea” sent in the form of a letter to the founding meeting of the Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham, North Carolina in October of 1969, Carmichael states that: “Now, we must recognize that black people, whether we are in Durham, San Francisco, Jamaica, Trinidad, Brazil, Europe or on the mother continent, are all an African people. We are Africans, there can be no quesiton about that. We came from Africa, our is African…. We have all suffered the same oppression at the hands of white folks, whether in Lynchburg, Virginia; Money, Mississippi; Accra, Ghana; or Johannesburg, South Africa.”

Carmichael views Pan-Africanism as the highest expression of Black Power. Here the evolution is complete from civil rights and black power to the realization that the liberation of Africa is key to the world-wide freedom of all peoples who share the continent as a homeland.

The reprinting of this book comes as an enormous contribution to the ongoing ideological and political discussion among African peoples related to their continuing quest for genuine human emancipation. This book provides the opportunity for an ancestor to speak from the whirlwind, to provide encouragement and guidance to the developing struggle for qualitative change and social transformation.

Review by Abayomi Azikiwe

The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street

Wallstreet...

Did you know that African Americans in Oklahoma created a ‘Negro Wall Street’ in the early 1920s? The Oklahoma city of Tulsa in 1921 had a Black hospital, a Black public library, 2 Black public schools, 2 Black newspapers, 2 Black theatres, 5 hotels, 13 churches, 30 restaurants and perhaps 600 Black businesses! What was the story of this great Black achievement? What happened to all of this? In the first half of this book, Robin Walker addresses these questions. What does it take for an individual to replicate the kind of economic success that the people of Black Wall Street achieved? In the second part of this book, Robin Walker presents his own ideas on what it takes to become successful. He outlines The Seven Key Empowerment Principles that any individual needs to use as a minimum to replicate that kind of success. He shows that individuals need four things to make it in the money game. They need Inspiration, Correct Knowledge, a Personal Plan, and the Seven Key Empowerment Principles. Inspiration gives individuals ‘the WHY.’ Correct Knowledge gives individuals ‘the TARGET.’ A Personal Plan gives people ‘the HOW.’ Finally, The Seven Key Empowerment Principles is ‘the CEMENT’ that holds ‘the WHY,’ ‘the HOW’ and ‘the TARGET’ together.

Patrice Lumumba: Africa’s Lost Leader

Lumumba...

Patrice Lumumba (1925-61) is perhaps the most famous leader of the African independence movement. After his execution in 1961, when he had been prime minister of the newly-liberated Congo for only seven months, he became an icon of anti-imperialist struggle. As the news came out, his picture was brandished in demonstrations in capitals around the world, along with Che Guevara and Mao Zedong. His life and the independence that he sought for the Congo made him a pivotal figure of the 20th century, highlighting ongoing Western colonialism and the problematic nature of the independence granted to huge swathes of the globe after 1945. In this book, revised and updated to include new thinking on the Congo crisis and incorporating material recently released from British intelligence archives, Leo Zeilig tells the story of the Congo in the dying days of colonialism, and of Lumumba’s transition from nationalist to revolutionary to international symbol of African liberation.

When We Ruled

Ruled...

This landmark publication, which is superbly illustrated with high quality photographs, maps and drawings, provides an extraordinary and cutting-edge synthesis of the archaeological data, the documentary evidence, and the historical linguistic research. It recounts the fascinating story of the origin and development of indigenous civilisations across the vast panorama of the African continent.

In particular,Robin Walker answers the key question in Black history: How much documented history is there beyond the Slave Trade, Mary Seacole, and Malcolm X? In 713 pages that question is answered again and again with a vast array of evidence that explodes the widely held view that Africans were without historical distinctions. In particular, there are ancient and medieval monuments that are still standing all over Africa. In addition, there are Black families and institutions that still possess their medieval manuscripts.This brother did some great research for this book.

The history of Black people cannot be divorced from the history of peoples on other continents particularly Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Topic areas that have traditionally been ignored, such as Black Women’s history, early African science and technology, and the two-way influences between Africa and Europe, are also discussed.

What is remarkable about this work is that for the first time it dares to connect Egypt, and its cultural affinities, with Africa and its chronological timeline within the vast chronology (nearly 90,000 years) of African achievement. It is now untenable for Egyptologists to consider themselves to be experts on Egypt without understanding the African cultural signature embedded within Ancient Egypt and its long history.

Faculty, students and parents interested in a comprehensive, critical and balanced overview of African or Black history will find no better book.

Black Love is a Revolutionary Act

This a must read for black folks! The black family is under attack right now. The media promotes interracial marriage in film and television. The whole objective is to cause even more division between black men and woman. This book explains the importance of black love. We’re at war! Our very survival is at stake. Jumping into bed with whites wont solve the problem of racism.There’s no way to deny it. You can get this book at Trojanhorse1.com.