Inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the Black Panthers, a clique of poor and working class Puerto Ricans founded the liberation organization, the Young Lords, in Chicago in 1968 and opened its New York chapter a year later. The activists got down to business immediately, creating a free, daily breakfast program for children and testing them for lead poisoning, organizing clothing banks and street patrols to monitor police abuse, and launching inmates’ rights and school reform efforts. In October of 1969, the militants protested abysmal living conditions in East Harlem and the South Bronx by forming a human chain to block traffic at 125th Street and 2nd Avenue, and lining up rows of garbage cans at the entrance to the Triborough Bridge.
Black Radical Tradition
In the colonial context, the colonized have no rights that the colonizer ever really needed to recognize. Therefore, any social space that Africans in the U.S. experienced were won through resistance. The historic fight for African self-determination and liberation from the anti-human colonial/capitalist system has been an uninterrupted feature of what we claim as the “Black Radical Tradition.” An unapologetic opposition to the U.S. colonial/capitalist project and U.S. imperialism centers the Black radical tradition, along with internationalism and a commitment to socialist transformation. It is this tradition of principled, militant resistance that has been a constant source of concern and, consequently, systematic repression of Black/African radicalism by the U.S. colonial/imperialist state.
A crowd of youth organizers have mastered this call and response chant, a unanimous voice talking back to a potential Cop City. Nearing the end of Defend the Atlanta Forest’s Week of Action, the energy from the In Defense of Black Lives rally held at the Atlanta Police Foundation Headquarters is palpable. There is laughter, chanting, a fire of hope that electrifies the air — folks have just finished roasting the heavily militarized police, who eye the crowd through the slits of their helmets. The solidarity between these kids is their biggest threat. Black youth organizers were at the center of this rally that was organized by the Stop Cop City Coalition, In Defense of Black Lives Atlanta (IDBL), which is a coalition movement based in Atlanta that works to defend Black life and to defund the Atlanta Police Department.
The 31 days of August hold a particular and special meaning you will not find in the celebrations that come with Juneteenth, Black History Month or Kwanzaa. For 43 years now since 1979, Black August commemorates and highlights political prisoners and their crucial role in the Black liberation/freedom struggle. Black August is directly tied to the Black prison movement that started in the San Quentin prison and through relentless organizing spread to other prisons as well as to the streets. The story of Black August begins immediately behind the prison walls after Jonathan and George Jackson were killed in August 1970, and 1971 respectively, as well as W.L. Nolan (killed January 1970), James McClain, William Christmas (killed with George) and Khatari Gaulden (killed August 1st, 1978).
It's easy to run with the herd, especially when it can bring possible career advancements and even significant monetary gain. That is why, for so many, making decisions to find a way into the mix, to play the game in order to advance one’s individual objectives, does not present any internal moral debate. It is just common sense. But for the oppressed and their radical intellectuals and activists, accommodationism is not an option without surrendering one’s soul. Glen Ford and many of our generation refused to do that. Glen made the decision to devote himself to being a truth teller on the side of the people back in the 1970s, at a historic moment when it was very easy to be an opportunist.
W.E.B. Du Bois, more than any intellectual this nation produced in the first half of the 20th century, explained America to itself. He did this not only through what he called the “color line” but by exposing the intertwining of empire, capitalism and white supremacy. He deftly fused academic disciplines. He possessed unwavering integrity, a deep commitment to the truth, and the courage to speak it. That he was brilliant and a radical was bad enough. That he was brilliant, radical and black terrified the ruling elites. He was swiftly blacklisted, denied the professorships and public platforms that went to those who were more obsequious and compliant.
By Ciara Taylor for AlterNet - When CodePink co-founder Jodie Evans contacted me a couple of months ago with the idea of hosting a People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War, my first thought was: we’re still in Iraq? Choosing to hide my ignorance, I listened intently to the concept, even though I had already swept the idea into my mental recycle bin. Following our chat, however, the strangest thing happened. The “Iraq war” began to come up in my everyday conversations, from friends and colleagues to entertainment and news stories.