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…
They say that his last words were "Organize, Organize..."
Brother Stokely Carmichael aka Kwame Ture stands out as being more Serious & intellectually unique than probably every other Black Leader in history (with the exception of Malcolm X aka El Hajj Malik el Shabazz). He was willing to work with any group that sought to fight for an end to European & American Imperialism. If one approach ceased to be effective, he regrouped & moved forward. always pushing for the establishment of A Black United Front, Kwame Ture fought closely at the side of Dr. Martin Luther King-before holding leadership positions with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, The Black Panther Party, and The All African People's Revolutionary Party. He was ALWAYS On The FRONT-LINES. He was ALWAYS Honest. And he ALWAYS gave off the impression of a Cool Genius-Always Thinking. Look at the pictures...
Perhaps it is his willingness to step outside of the parameters of what other leaders deemed to be appropriate that made him great. Upon being appointed Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, his first act was to visit The Honorable Elijah Muhammad of the Nation Of Islam. back in that time, other organizations went out of their way to distance themselves from the more radical NOI. But the Union between The NOI & Brother Kwame ture continued, from 1966, through his transition to Africa, & right on up to his death in 1998. Inevitably his evolving stance on what was required to achieve the goals of attaining Freedom, Justice & Equality, Kwame Ture moved from SNCC to The Black Panther Party. From there alliances would be formed with a host of African and Latin Revolutionaries. After working his way up through the ranks of CORE & SNCC, and Actively participating in events such as The "Freedom Summer," young Stokely Carmichael learned that Non-Violent Resistance to Violent Oppression would NEVER work. From then on, Kwame Ture would spend the next 30 years teaching, Organizing, Uniting & FIGHTING for an End To Imperialism. He was the FIRST to Publicly State the Term "BLACK POWER;" and in 1969 he moved his base of operations to Guinea, Africa-where he remained until his death in 1998. He IS, WAS, & ALWAYS WILL BE an Outstanding Example of what we should be aspiring to Evolve into. Happy BornDay Kwame ture
The job of a revolutionary is, of course, to overthrow unjust systems and replace them with just systems because a revolutionary understands this can only be done by the masses of the people. So, the task of the revolutionary is to organize the masses of the people, given the conditions of the Africans around the world who are disorganized, consequently all my efforts are going to organizing people.”
The CUBAN FIVE are five HEROES of Cuban Descent, currently being held in U.S. Prisons. The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González.
Accused of Conspiracy to commit Espionage against the United States, and other related charges, this group of freedom fighters has been held since being arrested on September 12th 1998 & convicted in 2001.
The Cuban Five's actions were never directed toward the United States in any way.
The Cuban Five organized NON-VIOLENT efforts to undermine the actions of Miami-based Terrorist activities TOWARD Cuba & The Castro Regime.
According to the "Who Are The Cuban Five" website http://www.freethefive.org/whoarethefive.htm
More than 3400 Cubans have been killed, and another 2000 more have been hurt in violence aimed against any advocate for normalized relations between the U.S. & Cuba-and against Cuba itself. Allegedly, Terrorist Networks such as Brothers to the Rescue & The Cuban American National Foundation have committed these acts with support from the FBI & CIA.
To combat this, the Cuban Five infiltrated these groups in order to be in position to alert Cuban Government Authorities of any pending attacks in advance. For this, The Cuban Five found themselves spending more than 17 months in solitary confinement-while awaiting trial. Ultimately the group members were each sentenced to FOUR Life In Prison Sentences +PLUS 75 Years on top of that.
In 2005, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals briefly overturned their sentences-only to reverse that decision & reinstate their sentences under pressure from the Bush/Cheney Regime. Eventually three out of the five members had their sentences reduced. René González was released in October 2011; and after over a year of fighting with the courts, returned to Cuba earlier this year.
We often discuss the persecution of our Black Freedom Fighters & Political Prisoners; but we must also add on with the stories of our Latin & Asian Partners in the struggle against Imperialism.
For more information on the Cuban Five, check out these websites:
As a continuation to yesterday's piece on BLACK AUGUST, one could never truly tell the full story in just one writing; so a quick drive-by of the peripheral components of the Black August Legacy are still in order.
Traditionally speaking, Black August is considered to be a time to study history the history of Black Men, Women & Children in North America.
THE STORY OF ROBERT F. WILLIAMS
ROBERT F. WILLIAMS IS CREDITED WITH BEING THE FIRST LEADER, OF OUR CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, TO ADVOCATE THE POLICY OF ARMED RESISTANCE TO RACIAL SEGREGATION & OPPRESSION.
BORN FEBRUARY 26, 1925 IN MONROE, NORTH CAROLINA, ROBERT F. WILLIAMS WAS THE FOURTH OF FIVE CHILDREN BORN TO EMMA CARTER WILLIAMS AND JOHN WILLIAMS. WILLIAMS WAS RAISED IN THE VERY DANGEROUS WORLD OF JIM CROW & KLU KLUX KLAN. IN MONROE, NC WAS ESPECIALLY KNOWN FOR THE REGULAR & ROUTINE BRUTALIZATION OF ITS BLACK CITIZENS AT THE HANDS OF THE KLAN.
INSPIRED BY HIS GRANDMOTHER, A FORMER SLAVE, WILLIAMS WAS TAUGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF STANDING UP FOR HIMSELF EARLY IN LIFE. FROM HIS GRANDMOTHER, WILLIAMS WOULD RECEIVE HIS FIRST RIFLE-PASSED DOWN FROM HIS GRANDFATHER. THE ITEM WOULD BE KNOWN AS A SYMBOL OF THE WILLIAM'S FAMILY'S RESISTANCE TO RACISM & OPPRESSION.
WILLIAM'S EARLY ASPIRATION WAS TO BECOME A JOURNALIST; THUS WILLIAMS JOINED THE MARINE CORP, HOPING TO BE TRAINED IN THAT AREA. AFTER RESISTING THE RACIAL CODES THAT WOULD LIMIT WILLIAMS TO COMMON SERVANT TASKS, WILLIAMS WOULD RECEIVE AN "UNDESIRABLE" DISCHARGE AND RETURN HOME.
AS A MEMBER OF THE EMBATTLED LOCAL NAACP, ROBERT WILLIAMS ROSE TO LEADERSHIP BY 1956. UNDER HIS WATCH, MEMBERSHIP ROSE FROM SIX MEMBERS TO MORE THAN 200. BUT WILLIAMS’S MOST SIGNIFICANT MOVE WAS TO FORM AN ORGANIZATION KNOWN AS "THE BLACK GUARD." THE BLACK GUARD WAS AN ARMED MILITANT ORGANIZATION TASKED WITH THE PROTECTION OF MONROE, NC'S BLACK RESIDENTS.
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST OPPRESSION INCLUDE THE 1958 CASE OF TWO BLACK CHILDREN, AGED 7 & 9, WHO WERE CHARGED WITH RAPE AFTER BEING SEEN KISSING A YOUNG WHITE GIRL ON THE CHEEK. THE BOYS WERE SENTENCED TO REFORM SCHOOL FOR THE "CRIME;" AND WILLIAMS LED THE EFFORTS THAT WOULD EVENTUALLY LEAD TO THE BOY’S RELEASE. THE CASE GAINED INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES, AND WOULD LEAD TO PROTESTS AND CONDEMNATION IN PARIS, ROME, VIENNA AND OTHER EUROPEAN CITIES.
IN 1959, WILLIAMS’S EFFORTS TO PROTECT THE DIGNITY OF LOCAL CITIZENS ESCALATED TO AN ACTUAL POLICY OF ARMED RESISTANCE AFTER A WHITE MAN WAS ACQUITTED OF THE CHARGE OF ATTEMPTED RAPE OF A LOCAL BLACK WOMAN. FROM THIS POINT ON, WILLIAMS PROCLAIMED THAT "THAT NEGROES MUST DEFEND THEMSELVES EVEN IF IT IS NECESSARY TO RESORT TO VIOLENCE."
IN A LATER STATEMENT, WILLIAMS DECLARED THAT "HERE IS NO NEED TO TAKE THE WHITE ATTACKERS TO THE COURTS BECAUSE THEY WILL GO FREE AND THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT COMING TO THE AID OF PEOPLE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, AND IT IS TIME FOR NEGRO MEN TO STAND UP AND BE MEN AND IF IT IS NECESSARY FOR US TO DIE WE MUST BE WILLING TO DIE. IF IT IS NECESSARY FOR US TO KILL WE MUST BE WILLING TO KILL.”
SEEKING TO DISTANCE THE ORGANIZATION FROM WILLIAM'S MORE RADICAL POSITION, THE NAACP IMMEDIATELY SUSPENDED WILLIAMS FROM HIS LEADERSHIP POST WITH THE LOCAL NAACP CHAPTER. THE FREEDOM RIDERS WERE DISPATCHED TO MONROE IN 1961, AND WERE VICIOUSLY ATTACKED BY MOBS OF KLANSMEN. AT THE REQUEST OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., WILLIAMS AND THE BLACK GUARD STEPPED IN TO PROTECT THE DEMONSTRATORS. THIS WOULD INCLUDE PROTECTING A WHITE COUPLE FROM AN ANGRY MOB OF BLACK CITIZENS. WILLIAMS & HIS WIFE TOOK THE COUPLE INTO THEIR HOME, FOR THEIR PROTECTION; BUT WOULD LATER BE ERRONEOUSLY CHARGED WITH KIDNAPPING. WITH THE THREAT OF DETAINMENT, IF NOT ASSASSINATION, FROM STATE & LOCAL POLICE-PLUS THE KLU KLUX KLAN-ROBERT WILLIAMS AND HIS WIFE MABEL FLED TO CUBA. ONCE IN HAVANA, THE WILLIAMS FAMILY WAS GRANTED POLITICAL ASYLUM FROM PRESIDENT FIDEL CASTRO.
OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, WILLIAMS & HIS WIFE WOULD CONTINUE TO PROMOTE FREEDOM FOR ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR-VIA THE RADIO FREE DIXIE” PROGRAM AND VARIOUS WRITINGS. IN 1962, HE WROTE THE BOOK "NEGROES WITH GUNS." IN 1969 THE WILLIAMS FAMILY WOULD BRIEFLY MOVE ON TO CHINA, UNDER THE CARE OF CHAIRMAN MAO ZEDONG.
KIDNAPPING CHARGES WERE EVENTUALLY DROPPED AGAINST WILLIAMS; AND IN 1969 WILLIAMS WOULD RETURN TO THE STATES. ROBERT WILLIAMS WOULD BE TAPPED TO WORK AS AN ADVISOR TO THE US STATE DEPARTMENT'S EFFORTS TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH CHINA, AND WOULD ALSO WORK AS A RESEARCH ASSOCIATE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN.
THOUGH A RARELY DISCUSSED FORCE IN THE HISTORY OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT OF THE 50'S & 60'S; ROBERT F. WILLIAMS IS CREDITED WITH BEING THE MOST IMPORTANT INTELLECTUAL INSPIRATION FOR HUEY P. NEWTON-CO-FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN OF THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF-DEFENSE.
WILLIAMS DIED OF CANCER, AT THE AGE OF 71, IN 1996. HIS STORY LIVES ON THROUGH THE BOOK "NEGROES WITH GUNS," AND A PBS "INDEPENDENT LENS" SPECIAL UNDER THE SAME NAME.
KNOW YOUR HISTORY...