Remarks delivered at the Islamic Center of York in Toronto, Canada, on Feb. 12, 2011
by Cynthia McKinney
One of our most famous Civil Rights Movement songs in the United States is by Gil Scott Heron. He sings, “You will not be able to stay home, Brother; You will not be able to plug in, turn on, and cop out; Because Black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day; the Revolution will put you in the driver’s seat; the Revolution will not be televised; will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised. The Revolution will be no rerun, Brothers; the revolution will be live.”
Hosni Mubarak is gone.
Freedom-loving peoples all over the world are celebrating. We all watched, on the floor, perched on the edges of our chairs, we were glued to our televisions, but just like Gil Scott Heron says, the Revolution was not on television; the Revolution took place within the minds of individual citizens who suddenly awakened to their own strength by overcoming their fears.
The people discovered themselves. And they overcame an oppressive state, imposed on them by outsiders from the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Israel, with Canada and Australia along for the ride.
These countries rode the backs of the Egyptian people for as long as the Egyptian people allowed them to ride.
And then, the Revolution within the minds of the people gave us, and them, something to celebrate.
On Feb. 11, 2011, the people of Egypt made history. They proved that with determination, unity, organization and critical mass, the mightiest walls of oppression can come tumbling down.
Ben Ali in Tunisia is gone. Crowds have amassed in Yemen, where President Saleh promised not to seek another term; Jordan, where King Abdullah replaced his prime minister; Algeria, where President Bouteflika said he would lift emergency powers, address unemployment and allow democratic marches to take place. Apparently, 30,000 protesters showed up and despite the pledge, approximately 1,000 were arrested and others were beaten by Bouteflika’s police.
Protests are scheduled for Italy tomorrow.
In Bahrain, a large march is planned for Feb. 14, the anniversary of the Bahraini Constitution.
Pakistan is on the brink with the foreign minister resigning and United States issuing a threat to sever relations if an American killer is not released after one of the embassy’s hired guns killed three Pakistanis in “cold blood,” according to the Pakistani police, and a fourth Pakistani killed herself after her husband was killed by the American.
Once again, the world is rising up against oppression.
I’m reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech before he was murdered. When he rejoiced to be living at the end of the 20th century, when men and women all over the planet were saying, “We want to be free.”
Well, this is a pretty nice time to be living in the 21st century when people are doing the same thing.
The Western world shuddered when Patrice Lumumba was elected by the people of Congo, and so they killed him. And when it was time for Mobutu to go, they brought in Laurent Kabila, who proved too patriotic for them and so he was killed, too. The Congolese were clear that they had to not only get rid of Mobutu, but of Mobutuism. With the murder of Laurent Kabila, they have not been able to achieve that goal.
Right now, the West is searching desperately for their next marionette to dangle in front of the people. I see them already rehearsing. The West’s person will be an avatar of a freedom fighter but will really be in place to serve the West and not the people. From Tunisia to the Republic of South Africa, we must beware the incomplete Revolution, where we see face change and not regime change.
Right now, the West is searching desperately for their next marionette to dangle in front of the people – an avatar of a freedom fighter who serves the West and not the people.
Therefore, I want to shift our focus to another part of the world where the people’s revolutions are making a difference in the lives of people as we speak and countries are led by real revolutionaries and not avatars.
I’d like to draw your attention to the Caribbean and Latin America, where, from Cuba to Venezuela, from Nicaragua to Ecuador and Bolivia and to Paraguay, the people have used the power of a free vote to completely cut the oppressive yoke of the West and to reorient national policy toward freeing the people and nature.
The ALBA countries, begun humbly with Venezuela and Cuba only, have grown to a powerful independent bloc where economics is being redefined and so, too, is humankind’s relationship with the planet. Planet Earth is guaranteed to be here, but humankind is not if we don’t change our ways. The ALBA countries are in the forefront of that change.
I have long wanted the people of the United States to lead the world’s change or to at least resist enough to stop its bad policies. Unfortunately, in the U.S. we have not yet had our Revolution: People power has not yet taken hold. But we cannot be immune to what is happening in the rest of the world. Our time will come.
In the U.S. we have not yet had our Revolution: People power has not yet taken hold. But we cannot be immune to what is happening in the rest of the world. Our time will come.
People thought it had come when they went to the polls and elected President Obama. The people inside the United States were voting for peace, they were voting for justice, they were voting for hope, and they were voting for change. But sadly, what we’ve gotten is a more intense George W. Bush, with the largest Pentagon budget in the history of our country.
The president wants to extend the life of the unpatriotic and unconstitutional Patriot Act and sends his Justice Department into court to defend George W. Bush’s illegal acts of torture and rendition.
Our president has launched more drones and depleted uranium into Muslim lands, rattled sabers at Iran and accepted a hot war where the entire world is the battlefield and insultingly sent our diplomats scrounging to collect DNA samples and frequent flier numbers of the world’s leaders.
President Obama’s Federal Bureau of Investigation raids the homes of peace activists, including the offices of nuns, pursues whistleblowers, deports Haitians back to an earthquake ravaged Haiti and targets Palestinian-Americans for prosecution. Therefore, we have a lot to overcome in the United States, but we can overcome these obstacles.
Malcolm X knew that the United States government wanted him dead. And according to the book, “The Assassinations,” on the morning of Feb. 21, Malcolm received a phone call saying, “Today is the day.”
Malcolm could have not gone to the Audubon Ballroom; he could have fled to Georgia; or he could have left the country – he had friends all over the world. But he told his wife to get the kids dressed because he wanted them to be with him at the Audubon Ballroom. Malcolm X showed up anyway, knowing that that day could be his very last day on this Earth.
Malcolm X did not let fear control his commitment to the cause of freedom and justice.
Malcolm X, who was murdered 46 years ago this month, did not let fear control his commitment to the cause of freedom and justice.
That is the real stuff we all are made of. Deep inside every one of us is a Revolution waiting to happen.
Thank you for supporting the Islamic Center and this event.
For news from, by and about Cynthia McKinney, former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, check these websites: http://dignity.ning.com/, http://www.enduswars.org, http://www.livestream.com/dignity, http://www.twitter.com/dignityaction, http://www.myspace.com/dignityaction, http://www.myspace.com/runcynthiarun, http://www.twitter.com/cynthiamckinney, http://www.facebook.com/CynthiaMcKinney and http://www.youtube.com/runcynthiarun.