One of the most eloquent voices of the pains, passions, and dilemmas that was (and still is) The Black Experience in a western-dominated world, James Baldwin traveled the globe learning, growing, teaching, and seeking peace. His unfiltered/no nonsense analysis of societal ills to me only can be compared to the level of genius presented to us by Malcolm X (aka El Hajj Malik El Shabazz). Relevant then, and relevant now, we must continue to study the insights Baldwin provided us-and use them as out tools to create the brighter future he surely hoped we would already have by now. So in memory of The Great James Baldwin, on the anniversary of his passing, here are a few quotes and videos to soak up and apply going forward…
Ericka Huggins spent 14 years as a vital force of leadership within The Black Panther Party; and played a highly instrumental role in spreading The Party’s influence across the nation and beyond. Having joined The BPP in 1968, at the age of 18, Ericka Huggins would ascend higher through the ranks of leadership in spite of her husband John Huggins being murdered (along with comrade Bunchy Carter) on the campus of UCLA just one year later. Now unsealed documents and other testimonies confirm that the incident had been instigated by The FBI and local police. The FBI and LAPD had been working feverishly to exacerbate tensions between The Panthers and Maulana Karenga’s US Organization; and this ultimately culminated in an on campus shooting that left the two BPP leaders dead. John an Ericka had just welcomed their newborn daughter into this world, just three weeks prior…
After moving to Connecticut, and opening a new BPP Chapter Office there, Ericka Huggins and Bobby Seale would be arrested on conspiracy to commit murder charged. The government attempted to tie them to the alleged torture and murder of Alex Rackley, who was believed to have been an FBI Informant. Though there was no evidence that could adequately support those claims, both Huggins and Seale would spend the next two years in jail. Ultimately the charges would be dropped in 1971.
Fifty years later, Ericka Huggins continues to work as an activist and educator via multiple platforms. We at The Wandering Eyes Blog salute you!
SOURCES AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Fancying myself as a student of revolutionaries, and revolutionary movements, many times I figured however foolishly that I knew at least a little about them all. But once every few years, I come across the story of another one purposely buried deep in the dark corners of revisionist history. Upon watching a documentary called “The House On Coco Road,” I discovered yet another in Maurice Bishop of Grenada. Greatly influenced by the works of Julius Nyerere and Frantz Fanon, this Aruba-Born Titan of The People would briefly establish what came to be referenced as a “Black Utopia” on the small Caribbean Island of Grenada from 1979 until his execution in 1983.
After earning his law degree from The University Of London, Bishop formed The Movement For Assemblies Of The People or MAP. Shortly thereafter MAP would merge with The Joint Action For Education Welfare & Liberation also known as JEWEL. Together the two united organizations would come to be known as The New Jewel Movement or The NJM. In 1976, Maurice Bishop would be elected to Grenada’s House Of Representatives, and three years later would seize power away from then Prime Minister Eric Gairy of whom the masses believed had only been elected due to illegal tampering with the vote count. Additionally, he reportedly ruled under a campaign of fear via his secret police (The Mongoose Gang) and with the backing of Chile & The U.S. Governments. So in the Spring of 1979 a new People’s Revolutionary Government was launched in Grenada. Bernard Coard was named Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Finance, Planning & Industry. Phyllis Coard was named Deputy Secretary Of Information & Culture; and Jacqueline Creft as Minister Of Education. This bloodless coup led to massive improvements in Education, Healthcare, Housing, Infrastructure, and The Economy. Free Healthcare became recognized as a right, and not just as a privilege. Major resources were launched toward improving literacy, more low-income housing was made accessible to the masses, and unemployment dropped from a reported 49% down to just 14%. New schools were built, agricultural projects launched, and new construction advanced forward. Grenada and its people had suffered through centuries of slavery and colonial exploitation; but now it was poised to become A Black Utopia. The country had only gained its independence in 1974; but Grenada was now all about the people. Even 800 American medical students had now moved there to enroll in Grenada’s Medical School St. George’s University. And this is when the trouble began...
“I think Washington fears that we could set an example for the rest of the region if our revolution succeeds. In the Caribbean region you’re talking about small countries with small populations and limited resources, countries that over the years have been classic examples of neo-capitalist dependencies. Now you have these new governments like Nicaragua and Grenada that are attempting a different experiment.”
Many of the improvement initiatives launched under the new People’s Revolutionary Government were made with financial assistance from Cuba and The Soviet Union. Fearing the spread of Socialism, and that more US-backed puppet regimes in the region may soon see similar changes, then-President Ronald Reagan’s regime began seeking to undermine Grenada’s progress. And by 1981, U.S. Military exercises had been initiated simulating an invasion of the tiny island. In 1983, Ronald Reagan would go on live television alleging that The Soviet Union had begun construction of a military base in Grenada. The assertion was positioned to instill the fear that this would be a base to launch terrorist attacks and ultimately lead to a Communist Invasion into America. In all reality, the construction project was Grenada’s first ever airport. Prior to this the island simply had a small airstrip into the mountains, that had been deemed too dangerous to use. Nevertheless, on October 25th, 1983, “Operation Urgent Fury” was launched. Just weeks prior, a power struggle had erupted within the government leading to Prime Minister Bishop being placed on house arrest. Bishop’s own childhood friend, Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard had betrayed him and seized power. And only days later, Coard would be deposed by General Hudson Austin. On October 19th, a large crowd of people would stage an uprising to restore Bishop to his power. Bishop was released from imprisonment, and the crowd would then descend upon the island’s military complex Fort George. The military would respond with gunfire to squash the uprising. Maurice Bishop, Jacqueline Creft, and several other members of the government would be executed via firing squad. Though much of the chaos was the result of American Covert Activities, even General Austin would find himself out of power after the U.S. Invasion. Austin would be sent to prison for the murders of his former comrades; and would remain there until 2008. Herbert Augustus Blaize would be elected Prime Minister in 1984, and Grenada returned to its status as amongst nations with the boot of Imperialism firmly pressed on its throat. Ironically, the very airport that was used as the catalyst to end the regime of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and The People’s Revolutionary Government would be re-named Maurice Bishop International Airport in 2009. Others attempted similar moves to install governments that were truly For The People and By The People; but like Maurice Bishop they would also become targets to be eliminated via American Obstruction. Their memories will live on forever though; and hopefully the next wave will finally succeed long term.
"We Respect Nonviolence. But to Sit, And Watch Ourselves Be Slaughtered, Like Our Brother (Martin Luther King), We Must Defend Ourselves. Like Malcolm X Said, By Any Means Necessary."
Last week (December 4, 1969) marked the 46th year since Our Brother Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. was EXECUTED by Chicago Police Officers in a pre-dawn raid. Working in conjunction with The FBI, Cook County State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan sent Fourteen officers to Chairman Fred's apartment on The West Side of Chicago. Officers surrounded the house and immediately fired off an estimated 100 bullets-mostly in the direction of Hampton's bed. When the gunfire stopped, 21 Year Old Fred Hampton & 22 Year Old Mark Clark lay dead. Several other Panther Party members were wounded, and seven were arrested for Attempted Murder. Official Police Reports claimed that there was a shootout, and authorities put out photos of the carnage to the media. Shortly thereafter the photos claiming to show bullets being fired toward the cops were exposed as being nail heads. it would later be confirmed that only one bullet had been fired in the direction of the cops & THAT BULLET WAS FIRED FROM A COPS GUN. Four years later it would be discovered that Chicago Black Panther Party Chief of Security William O'Neal was a paid informant for the FBI, and had not only provided a layout of the apartment-specifically citing the location of Chairman Fred's bed; but had also drugged him in the hours leading up to the raid. Black Panther Party Leaders led Chicago residents on tours through the crime scene to show the corrupt & savage nature in which the Chicago Police Department had enacted the raid (as Police had clumsily left the scene unsecured). After a 1971 break in at a Pennsylvania FBI Office, by The Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI , over a thousand documents were liberated that confirmed that the Chairman Fred's assassination was part of a larger plan to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and otherwise neutralize" Black Organizations. More specifically to Chairman Fred Hampton, to "Prevent a coalition of militant black nationalist groups" & "Prevent the rise of a messiah who could unify and electrify the militant nationalist movement." At the time of Chairman Fred's death, The FBI had already compiled at least 4,000 pages of reports on him. Chairman Fred was a brilliant organizer and had established community service programs, called "Survival Programs," that included Free Breakfast Programs for the youth, Free Medical Care for the public, and Political Education Classes. The BPP Free Breakfast Program was the model for the State & Federal Sponsored programs that we see today. Most importantly Chairman Fred had successfully brokered a Non-Aggression Pact between several of the cities most powerful gangs, and a "Rainbow coalition" of Black and Puerto Rican youth. Fearing that these street organizations would soon become revolutionary organizations, The FBI initially tried to manufacture tension between The Panthers & Jeff Fort. When that failed, Hampton was marked for assassination. Fred's legacy lives on to this day, not only in the hearts & minds of our consciousness; but in the work of his son Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. And as he said in a comment on an earlier (post) from 2014, "The Cubs are Coming...The Cubs are coming...The Cubs are Coming...The Black Panther Party Cubs are here!"
No One Ever Went To Jail For Chairman Fred's Murder. With the current climate of injustice, political fuckery, and police brutality, we must honor the example set forth by our pioneering Leaders to take up the mantle to teach & mobilize our masses. They must not be allowed to have died in vain.
It takes a special kind of courage to stay connected to our community regardless of wealth or aspirations of power and fame. To truly be an advocate of the fight for equality and justice, you must never allow what you become outside to replace who you are inside. This is the story of Craig Hodges.
"I was never in trouble for drugs, or guns or raping women or anything like that. I just wanted to help my community, and that made me a troublemaker. - Craig Hodges”
Craig Hodges is one of two players (Larry Bird) have ever won three consecutive NBA 3-point shooting contests.
When the Chicago Bulls visited the White House after winning the 1992 NBA Championship, Hodges dressed in a dashiki and delivered a hand-written letter addressed to then President George H. W. Bush, expressing his discontent at the administration's treatment of the poor and minorities. The White House episode was hardly out of character for Hodges, who frequently took advantage of his exposure to champion political causes.
From that meeting began a series of events which ultimately had Hodges out of a job and to this day, has fans of the sport with many unanswered questions.
Shortly thereafter that same year, The Chicago Bulls cut him and he wasn't signed by another team. Actually, he wasn't even invited to camp for any of the remaining 26 teams, either. The Bulls’ position was that he was an aging back-up point guard who could not play defense. The following season they sign two defensive liabilities both of whom did not shoot like Hodges.
Then Head coach Phil Jackson said, "I also found it strange that not a single team called to inquire about him. Usually, I get at least one call about a player we've decided not to sign. And yes, he couldn't play much defense, but a lot of guys in the league can't, but not many can shoot from his range, either (Granderson.)" "Do I think the league had it out for me? You tell me...”
"I was outspoken, but I wasn't disrespectful," he says.” "I played for Tex Winter for four years at Long Beach State," Hodges said. "I knew the triangle offense better than Phil Jackson.”
"No one would take my calls, no one would give me a chance. I went from helping a team win it all, to all of a sudden not being good enough to play for the worst team in the league. Hodges continues, "I asked Jesse Jackson to help me and he wouldn't, I asked Johnnie Cochran to represent me and he wouldn't.”
Hodges also criticized Michael Jordan for not using his fame to draw attention to social and political issues, and said Jordan was "bailing out" for not being politically outspoken.
In 1996, Hodges filed a $40 million lawsuit against the NBA citing the reason they blackballed him was for his association with Louis Farrakhan, criticizing other African-American professional athletes and for his activism.
It is suspect at a minimum that Hodges failed to attract any offers after the 1992 season. In addition, reports of team backing out because of what may have been intimidation and an attempt to blacklist him from the league for his politics. The racial dynamics of the NBA are unusual: 80 percent of the players on the court are black, while 80 percent of the fans in the stands are white (ESPN).
Hodges stood up to the status quo and fought for something he believed in. He further believed in accountability as a professional athlete and an obligation to give back to the community. Our community respects and appreciates the efforts of Hodges and many like him who continue to stand up for justice, equality and social activism. Maybe we may never know truly the motives of the NBA during that time period. However, we should look inside ourselves and demand more when it comes to preservation of our communities. It is our duty. Hodges felt that way, we should too.