by Kamau Askari (Roscoe Abell)
Many New Afrikans (Blacks) for some reason think that the revolution is dead. The revolution is not dead. It is the spirit of the people that is dead. They have forgotten their history. And since their spirit is dead, the revolution is at a standstill or stagnant.
Revolution means to bring about a change. A revolutionary is one who is dedicated to bringing about that change. We can all agree that change in these times is indeed needed. Revolution is needed! The people’s spirit is only dead because those of us who claim to be revolutionaries haven’t sparked their interest.
Education is much needed in the New Afrikan communities. But this education has to be directed towards the people’s needs. Not only education is needed; we need to demonstrate through our actions.
This is what made the Black Panther Party so popular: On May 2, 1967, 20 armed Panthers out of 30 stormed the state capitol in Sacramento, California. They were leading by example.
Today, no one is leading by example, except a small few. We must put theory into practice.
Armed struggle is needed when advocating the overthrow of capitalism. We cannot expect to succeed in revolution without an armed struggle. Words and education will not free the people.
It all goes hand in hand. No one surrenders their power without resistance. There has to be a showdown between the oppressed and the oppressor!
We cannot sit and hope that the imperialists will come to their senses and give the people freedom. Freedom comes with a price and it’s very expensive. Freedom has to be taken and it’s only through struggle that one can achieve it.
People who fight righteously can never be a slave. They will either win or die. The founding fathers of this nation understood this well. They knew the power of the gun!
This is why they make sure that their former slave children receive harsh sentences whenever they are caught with one. They understand that political power grows from the barrel of a gun. This is how they gained their independence.
It was with guns that the Amerikans defeated Great Britain during the Revolutionary war in 1776. Since then, Amerika has been taking over the world by using forced intimidation through their powerful military.
Imperialists are constantly buying and making weapons and advancing their technology. This is to keep them in power. In 2014, the Amerikan government gave out $5.9 billion in foreign military aid, with Israel getting over half of it, $3.1 billion. Egypt received $1.3 billion, Jordan received $300 million, Pakistan received $280 million, and Iraq received $300 million.
Amerika spends more money on war than any other country. Within imperialist society, there are about 1,000 billionaires with a net worth of $4.5 trillion. This money is earned off the backs of the proletariat, lumpen proletariat and Third World countries who are being economically enslaved through the exploitation of the bourgeois elite.
It is the duty of the vanguards to lead the people and to educate them on the political spectrum so that they will know who their enemies and friends are. All true revolutionaries must take the lead and organize. There hasn’t been a strong party in Amerika since the early ‘80s.
Malcolm X was right when he stated: “Revolution is like a forest fire. It burns everything in its path. The people who are involved in a revolution don’t become a part of the system – they destroy the system.”
I agree! A revolutionary war is to bring about a change in the system by destroying it and then rebuilding it in accordance to the people’s needs, which is socialism. I understand that the revolution involves more than just armed struggle. It involves art and education as well.
But damn! How many more decades are going to be spent on education? There is never a right moment to spark a revolution. The right time is when the vanguards make it right. This means one must take the initiative and push forward.
How many more Ndugus (brothers) and Da Das (sisters) must be tricked into giving up their freedom by going to prison because they broke a so-called law to feed their families? The poor are forced to commit crimes to obtain the basic needs for survival. This is a biased economic structure that was designed to exploit the innocent with the false allusion of free enterprise of the means of production which only keeps the elite rich.
As New Afrikans (Blacks), our Luta (struggle) has only begun. We must continue fighting as our ancestors did. Our Luta (struggle) started from the time we were captured in Afrika and brought on the slave ships of brotherhood, Jesus, Othello, John the Baptist, and many others that were used to bring us to the shores of Amerika.
We fought every step of the way. We were strong Bomani (warriors). More than 150 revolts on the slave ships have been reported. We continued to fight. We refuse to give up because we are Juba (fearless).
After landing in Amerika, our struggle continued. Gumu (strong) and hodari (brave) Askaris (soldiers) sacrificed their lives to liberate our people from slavery. One such courageous warrior was our beautiful sister, Harriet Tubman.
Harriet escaped from slavery by running to Philadelphia. She made her first trip to Baltimore in 1850 to free her sister and two children. Within 10 years Harriet Tubman freed over 200 slaves, including her entire family. She always kept the gun on her. It was said that whenever a slave she was helping became frightened and wanted to go back she would pull the gun and threaten to kill them. “Live North or die here!” she told them.
Another Hodari (brave warrior) was Denmark Vesey, who was born in the Danish Virgin Islands and spoke four languages. He became a free man after buying his freedom for $600. Vesey had won a lottery worth $1,500.
He was living in Charleston, S.C., when he organized 9,000 slaves in 1822 to help seize the U.S. arsenal and ships at harbor in Charleston. He contacted the president of Haiti and asked for his help. The majority of Denmark’s followers were members of the Afrikan Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
At this time, Charleston had the largest Black population – and was the fifth largest city – in the U.S. and the largest Black ethnic groups directly from Afrika. Muslims made up 10 percent of Charleston’s population.
Denmark’s plan was to kill the governor and other important officials in their sleep. Also, he planned to take all the money from the banks and then kill the entire white population (except for a few white women and the captains of the ships) and burn the city to the ground.
Vesey’s plan failed after a slave messenger was captured with the letter that was supposed to be sent to President Boyer of Haiti. The slave, Monday Gell, gave up the plans to the authorities who used him as a witness at Denmark’s trial.
Before the Revolutionary was captured, he and his captains destroyed all the names of the slaves that were part of his clandestine army. Vesey and 77 of his followers were captured in the summer of 1822. In the spirit of a true general, Vesey told his men: “Do not open your lips! Die silent, as you shall see me do!”
Vesey’s right hand man, “Gullah Jack,” had escaped arrest and tried to recruit Angolan and Ibo slaves to arm themselves and help them to rescue Denmark Vesey. Gullah Jack was arrested two weeks after Vesey.
On the day of his execution, Denmark Vesey stated it was “a glorious cause to die for.” Vesey told his men at that moment, “Die like a man!” As they were being led to their hanging, two of them laughed.
Denmark Vesey was hanged on July 2, 1822. It is said that if his plot had not been betrayed, it would’ve been the most violent and bloodiest slave revolt in Amerika’s history. Vesey died for the people.
Nat Turner was also a Gumu (strong) Askari (soldier). He fought for the liberation of the New Afrikan nation. On Aug. 21, 1831, the same month and day that George Jackson was assassinated 140 years later, Nat Turner sparked a revolution by killing his so-called master first. Within 24 hours, 60 whites had been killed.
Nat Turner and his comrades were overpowered by state and federal troops. More than 100 of Turner’s men were killed. Nat Turner was captured on Oct. 30, 1831, and was hanged on Nov. 11. He died for the people as well.
As one can see, the New Afrikans have always fought against capitalism, which was and is in power through slavery. Capitalists, by definition, have always used slavery as a means to boost their economy. This is why in 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, the Southern capitalists had to find another way to increase their economy, since it was the Blacks who elevated it as chattel slaves.
The Southerners feared the collapse of their economy because a lot of their money was put into the war they lost and a lot more money was needed to rebuild all the damage. Now that the slaves were free, they could be considered citizens.
The 13th Amendment forbad the holding of any citizen as a slave – unless tried and convicted in a court of law. The whites came up with a plan to put the Blacks behind bars.
The first prison was built in 1829 in Cherry Hill, Philadelphia. At this time, the prison was filled with whites who had committed crimes. There were no Blacks in prison during these times.
But, after the Emancipation Proclamation, Blacks began filling up the Southern prisons for breaking petty laws that were designed to keep them subordinate. These laws, called the Black Codes, limited the rights of the Blacks. The codes became law in 1865.
By 1868, Blacks made up 33 percent of the prison population. Since then, Amerika has been putting money into prisons. The Amerikan government spends far more money on prisons than education. This is why Amerika has the largest prison population.
The U.S. has only 4 percent of the world’s population and a grotesque, extravagant 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Amerika is No. 43 in the world when it comes to education and No. 1 when it comes to prisons.
In 2016, there are over 2.5 million people locked up in the U.S., “land of the free.” Blacks are locked up at six times the rate of whites and make up over 40 percent of death row inmates. Also, there are more Black people in prison today than there were slaves in 1850!
In 2011, there were 61,423 children in custody – 2,500 of them sentenced to life. All of them are children of color! There is no justice for the Black man in Amerika. “All Black people, wherever they are, whatever their crimes, even crimes against other Blacks, are political prisoners because the system deals with them differently than with whites,” wrote* George Jackson.
The only way to receive justice is to fight. The comrades in prison will have to fight from a different position. They will have to build cadres to take on different tasks. All collectives will organize the masses around the problems of their particular prison. Every cadre should have different responsibilities.
1) There should be a cadre responsible for studying the psychological warfare that is implemented by the correctional officers and finding ways to combat it peacefully.
2) Another would study and know the prisoners’ rights and be ready to challenge all violations.
3) A cadre would write down all injustice that is manifested by the officers and pass information on to the cadre leaders.
4) A cadre should be in contact with outside sponsors that can help our struggle by bringing to light our problems to the public. All cadres are just components to the machine.
These are only examples.
We must continue the fight, especially on these plantations. However, we have to be on point and tighten our security to protect ourselves from agent provocateurs who claim to be on our side but are actually on the side of the oppressor.
Be mindful of those who are always showing up at all religious services, hoping to identify radical prisoners who may speak at these gatherings. These agents are only there to ear hustle so they can report back to their masters (prison administrators).
You will be able to identify some of them through their actions. They’re always preaching about Black history and Blacks uniting, but they are never doing shit to protect the rights of the prisoners.
They speak out against those who are true vanguards of the people and try to turn the masses against these warriors by spreading false rumors and hopes to destroy these men’s work and character. Please do not be fooled! They will stop at nothing until their mission for “massa” is completed.
They are not only working against their own people; they’re against the entire prison population! You will see them trying to cut in or befriend every group, organization or nationality to learn what they can about them. Be very mindful, comrades.
There have been many strong Black revolutionaries who have died in prison for the Luta (struggle) and they must never be forgotten. Comrades like George Jackson, Hugo Pinell, William Christmas, Howard Tole, James McClain, W.H. Nolen and the many unknown but dedicated warriors who fought and never gave up until their deaths should always be loved and remembered.
These brothers taught and trained others to carry on the torch so that the struggle will continue behind these walls. And in response, many have suffered and remained in lockup since the ‘90s, ‘80s and even the ‘70s because they refused to denounce George Jackson!
The majority of the comrades are locked down in the “holes” called SMU, ADX and Pelican Bay SHU, not because they have incident reports, but because they are carrying the torch and fighting against the injustice of the federal and state prisons that our fallen freedom fighters gave their lives trying to destroy.
We are not terrorists! We are revolutionary freedom fighters striving to free the Amerikan people (Black and white) from the bloody claws of the imperialist monster. All committed liberators should join among their own kind and work together in solidarity.
Let’s use the comrades that pave the way as examples and continue fighting together, united with one clenched fist! Can’t stop! Won’t stop! Long live the guerrillas!
Power to the people.
Umyawa! (Black power!)
Writer’s note: This essay was written with the intention that others will begin to take the initiative to challenge all injustice and oppression and be guiding examples as a revolutionary force in the spirit of Comrade George Jackson.
Editor’s note: Time didn’t allow for thorough fact checking of every statement in this scholarly article. If you find the need for a correction, tell us and we’ll revise the online version. And we thank you, Kamau Askari, for sharing your extraordinary lived and learned history and vision.
Kamau Askari (Roscoe Abell) is a student in the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program and asks us, “Please continue to push the Agreement to End All Hostilities.” Send our brother some love and light: Roscoe Abell, 13305-058, United States Penitentiary-Hazelton, P.O. Box 2000, Bruceton Mills WV 26525.