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African Liberation Day: Imamu Amiri Baraka, 1972

On this African Liberation Day, we revisit Amiri Baraka’s 1972 communiqué calling for Black people to struggle for Pan-African unity.

Also registering our anger at the “pathology and traitor mentality” of the Black misleadership class  – enemies of Africa and African people. These accompanying pictures are purposely altered by the editors to disorient – as the existence of an imperialist Black misleadership is disorienting.

Should African Liberation Day be a day of celebration or mourning? Since the first African Liberation Day celebrations were held in Washington, Toronto, and Washington, DC., May 27, 1972, most of the African continent broke from colonial rule and became politically independent. But the enemies of African people launched a counter revolutionary war against self-determination immediately after independence. African sovereignty came under attack from a vindictive neocolonialism that would later be intensified by neoliberalism. This neocolonialism would not be successful, however, if not also for the actions of a veritable minstrel show of Black compradors, sell-outs, spooks, reformists, reactionaries, puppets, poodles, and misleaders – on the continent and throughout the African diaspora.

Indeed, the current overseer of US imperial policy is a phenotypically Black man, Lloyd Austin III: a former Raytheon executive who, as the United States Secretary of State, has extended and entrenched the Yankee forever wars on behalf of his former employer and the US military state. While Austin recently requested the deployment of US troops to Somalia, AFRICOM (soon to be under the leadership of another Black comprador, Lt. Gen. Michael Langley ) has resumed its drone strikes, assassinating some sixty people in the village of Fiidow on February 22, 2022, using the San Diego-based defense contractor General Atomics’ MQ-1A Reaper (price tag: $56.5 million ). At the same time, and in a throwback to the Cold War, Gregory Meeks, Black Democratic Congressman and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has introduced a bill directing the “Secretary of State to develop and submit to Congress a strategy and implementation plan outlining United States efforts to counter the malign influence and activities of the Russian Federation and its proxies in Africa, and for other purposes.” As a result in the years – and perhaps months — to come, Africa will see an increase in US military action. And of course, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman and US ambassador to the United Nations, stands at her imperial pulpit, ready to bully African nations to the will of the US.

In this light, it is worth revisiting Imamu Baraka’s May 1, 1972, communiqué on African Liberation Day, published in the Brooklyn journal Black News. Baraka reminds us that “America is one of the chief oppressors of Africans in the world.” And the way to fight for African liberation is for Africans, globally, to “unify through the political consciousness” of Pan-Africanism. At its core, African Liberation Day fuses Pan-Africanism with anti-imperialism – and that anti-imperialism by necessity involves a critique of US corporate power and foreign policy. It was for this reason that the 1972 African Liberation Day march in DC targeted the State Department among other locations. Moreover, Baraka castigated the Black people in the imperial core for furthering imperial policy and neocolonial rule. Here, Baraka singles out Roy Wilkins, whom he describes as the “puppet head” of the NAACP.

Baraka’s communiqué, reproduced below, should compel all of us living through this moment of increased Black participation in the US imperial project to “register our absolute shock and anger at the pathology and traitor mentality shown” by the likes of Meeks, Thomas-Greenfield, Austin, Langley, and the many other Black enemies of Africa and African people.

African Liberation Day

Imamu Baraka (African Liberation Day Coordinating Committee, Black News (Brooklyn, New York) (May 1, 1972), page 5.)

On Saturday, May 27, thousands of Black People from all over the country will converge on Washington, D.C. to demonstrate our support for African Liberation Day. Ordinarily, African Liberation Day is recognized and celebrated each May 25, throughout the African World, but this year because of the increasing severity of the confrontations encountered by Africans all over the world in our efforts to survive and develop [sic], it was decided that this year’s African Liberation Day program ought to include some dramatic manifestation not only of the African in America’s consciousness of PanAfricanism, but also specifically there ought to be some graphic demonstration of support of the struggles of our brothers and sisters on the continent, in their thrust for self determination. Particularly in support of the liberation struggles in southern Africa and Guinea Bissau, where armed struggle rages this very moment, to rid the African continent of the most blatant examples of European Colonialism. The members of the African Liberation Day Mobilization Steering conference, and some of the other names you can recognize on the release, felt that it is essential to the movement for total African Liberation and self determination that Africans living in the western hemisphere (since brothers and sisters from the West Indies and Canada, will also be taking part in the Washington tactic) begin to very openly and dramatically support these struggles on the African continent, because reality teaches us that they are part and parcel of our struggles here in the west. Because at base the enemies of Africans in Africa, are the same people who viciously repress black people all over the world.

African Liberation Day Committees have been formed in most of the 50 states, the West Indies and Canada, who will coordinate the movement of black people into Washington to march in support of African Liberation, and also to reveal to the world that black people are beginning to understand internationally who the enemies of black people are. We will demonstrate in front of the Portuguese Embassy because of the Portuguese continuing nazi repression campaigns and colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau; in front of the Rhodesian information offices because of the continued illegality of the Rhodesian white settle minority regime, which as in defiance of all the forces of reason, disregarded the needs of the African majority in Zimbabwe; in front of the South African Embassy because the white settler minority government which rules Africans in Azania is in clear violation of all human rights, and the clearest example of nazi-ism in the world today. We should also take the opportunity today to register our absolute shock and anger at the pathology and traitor mentality shown by Roy Wilkins, puppet head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. His statement yesterday in Azania, gave real solace to the enemies of black people all over the world. His open support for the financiers of African slavery and oppression in South Africa marks him in open conflict with the majority of the black world. We beg his own so-called constituency within the national association to condemn and disassociate themselves from Wilkin’s [sic] criminally irresponsible statements of support for colonialism. It is time the responsible black people within the NAACP show that Wilkins no longer represents the thinking of the majority of black people.

It is to register the overwhelming opposition of most black people in the world to catatonic statements like Wilkins’ that the Steering Committee of the African Liberation Day are bring black people to Washington, D.C., not only to show our absolute commitment to the struggles of Africans but by marching in the seat of power of the United States of America to demonstrate as well black peoples disgust with American foreign policy towards Africa. This policy showed itself most clearly last week in the movement of Rhodesian chrome ore into the United States, violating sanctions the United Nations placed on the illegal minority white settler government in efforts to get this illegal government to recognize the rights of the African majority in Zimbabwe. The United States through the machinations of Harry Byrd (W. Va.) and the lobbying of Foote Mineral Company and Union Carbide, have begun to import this chrome ore, though we are asking black people all over this country to challenge this racist move, just as black students in Louisiana did last week.

In order for the black majority on the continent of Africa to move swiftly toward complete liberation and self determination, self respect, self reliance and self defense, it is absolutely necessary for Africans wherever we are, to unify through the political consciousness called PanAfricanism. America is one of the chief oppressors of Africans in the world. The foreign policy of America will change toward Africa, when Africans in and around America force that change through the rise of our political consciousness that we are also an African people, by race, culture, history, politics and emotion. The strengthening of Africa is the strengthening of ourselves.

We are urging all black people, all Africans in the western hemisphere to come together near the government of our worst enemies, but paradoxically in a stronghold of black life, Washington, D.C., to move the struggle to yet higher levels. May 27, the march will move from State Department, via demonstrations at the various Embassies, Missions, and information centers, toward Malcolm X Park.

For further information, call National Office, African Liberation Day Coordinating Committee (202)462-3411; or in New York the East in Brooklyn (212)636-9400; or in New Jersey the Committee for Unified NewArk (201)621-2300.

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