by Kwame ‘Beans’ Shakur
“No one will undertake to aid us unless they sense the power of our movement. It is Blacks who must play not only the role of liberating the Black colony, but also the leading role in the liberation of the whole city-state. To expect that someone else will take the full responsibility for our own liberation is suicide.” – George Jackson, “Blood in My Eye”
As always, I come with the vision for self-determination, national liberation, the release of all Political Prisoners (PPs) and Prisoners of War (POWs), and the abolition of legalized prison slavery. We are witnessing the manifestation and implementation of that vision through the concrete work and tangible infrastructure that is being laid down by a number of organizations and formations within the overall movement both inside and out.
The call to organize the “Prison Lives Matter (PLM): Liberate Our Elders” webinar and panel discussion for July 2023 is part and parcel of that work. These panel discussions are being put in place to help establish a national agenda and strategy as we turn theory into practice and action.
On March 3, 2023, a Zoom call was held to develop an organizing committee for the panels. I believe I can speak for more than myself when I say that it was extremely motivating and encouraging for those in attendance to see and hear such a large number of our leading thinkers, organizers and strategists come together in that space. Some of those sisters and brothers have been freedom fighters on the frontline in our struggle for far longer than I have been on this earth.
It has long been understood that the (New) Afrikan Nation/Black community here in the u.s. isn’t monolithic. However, that call proved that we can overcome generational, ideological, geographic and religious gaps or differences in solidarity and a collective consciousness can move this struggle forward.
I want to further clarify what the aims and objectives are going into this webinar and panel for those who attended the first call or those who will come on board in the coming months. We don’t want any confusion or misunderstandings that would limit the overall agenda and participation based on the title (PLM: Liberate Our Elders).
PLM is a united front for PPs and POWs, politicized individuals, and outside formations or campaigns who are working in unison to educate, organize and establish infrastructure with the overstanding that there is no separate struggle between the prison movement and our overall movement against racism, capitalism and imperialism. This united front and its structure is the result of a concrete study and analysis of the past 50+ years, and in doing so we learned from those who led the struggle at the highest level during the high tide, 1960s and ‘70s, where and how the revolutionary movement failed – due to a lack of cadre development, as well as knowing and maintaining a line.
PLM, while maintaining the aforementioned anti-racist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist line, is also not a monolithic body. The individuals, organizations and campaigns that make up the PLM National Coordinating Committee (NCC) range from New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalists to intercommunalists to anarchists.
As a united front, PLM and many organizations and individuals within the NCC, as well as general members inside and out, are part and parcel of (or do overlapping work with) Spirit of Mandela, New Afrikan Independence Movement, Front for the Liberation of the New Afrikan Nation (FROLINAN), Jericho Movement, The People’s Senate etc. At the same time, each individual, organization and campaign united under the PLM umbrella operates under their own autonomy and may have their own programs or initiatives. PLM is about strengthening the overall movement through unity, strategy and applying the proper educational tools to the captives and masses to sustain ourselves moving forward.
PLM is not simply for and about the Prison Industrial Slave Complex (PISC). Here again we overstand that this form of modern-day slavery is only one of the many arms and functions of capitalism, colonialism, national oppression, fascism, white supremacy and genocide that we are fighting as a whole oppressive body. Therefore, we use this united front in unison with the aforementioned outside formations that we are part and parcel to, to use OUR BODY AS A WHOLE to dismantle and decolonize from the above forms of colonial rule.
With all that being said, this webinar and panel discussion is not solely based on the issues around prisons or the Liberate Our Elders campaign. That is why on the March 3 Zoom call, Jalil Muntaqim spoke on the function and significance of The People’s Senate, Sekou Odinga explained the purpose of the 2021 International Tribunal and how we can move forward with the guilty verdict of genocide against the u.s., and clinical psychologist Dr. Amber Siler spoke about the psychological affects and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that we suffer from as a result of colonial violence.
The goal for each in-person webinar and panel discussion event in the Bay Area, Chicago and New York is to have individuals and organizations present from that specific region who are doing the work tied into infrastructure building. We need individuals on the panels representing our lawful committee, our clinical psychologist, members of The People’s Senate, Spirit of Mandela/International Tribunal members, PP freedom campaign representatives (Mumia Abu-Jamal, Kamau Sadiki, Jamil Al-Amin etc.), and PLM-NCC members in order to explain how we use the existing structure of inside/out coordinating to plant these seeds and connect the various initiatives across the kountry.
These include The Nelson Mandela Rules, the HALT Solitary Confinement Act, the national campaign to secure minimum wage for captive workers, establishing members and structure for the People’s Senate, uniting defense committees and freedom campaigns of political prisoners and elders, as well as our lawful counsel and clinical psychologist networking to bring others in their field on board.
It is important to talk about the subtitle for the event, Liberate Our Elders, making the connection between their campaign call for freedom and how it ties directly into our international struggle for independence and self-government. A large number of Elders identify as conscious citizens of the Republic of New Afrika and there are countless other Black, Brown and Indigenous captives who are also members of oppressed groups or internal neo-colonies and are victims of u.s. genocide.
Who do we expect to liberate our Elders? The same courts and system that put them there? How can we make the charges against the u.s. for violating international law in regard to PPs as freedom fighters or members of a colonized nation if we are not operating like a national government or national movement that is at war and establishing the proper structures to be recognized by the international community?
The holding of international tribunals, developing The People’s Senate, and organizing national strategy is how we gain our freedom. Anything short of that, we will not be taken seriously by the oppressor, potential allies around the world or even our own people. These are mandatory steps in the decolonization process that cannot be ignored or bypassed from any neo-colonized group of people being held as an internal captive nation under the false jurisdiction of a colonial empire. There have been many attempts and declarations over decades in the name of self-determination; however, We lacked the proper infrastructure to sustain ourselves.
The first Zoom call on March 3 was to jumpstart the organizing committee by figuring out who is willing to get on board in working alongside those of us who agreed to initially spearhead this endeavor. Then those in attendance started networking to bring in other individuals in their area or around the kountry and communicating and coordinating with the committee on local ideas or initiatives. The second call occurred on April 9, 2023; dates for the event were established and will occur Aug. 4-6, 2023.
In terms of strategy for the webinar and making sure that we are most effective in reaching the people, we will break the event down into a three-day weekend. For example, the Bay Area would have their panel and webinar on Friday, Chicago on Saturday, and New York on Sunday. It is also being discussed by comrades in a couple of states that organizations who are spread out across the kountry or not able to attend one of the in person panel discussions can independently organize breakout events in their area to livestream the webinar and invite local people for workshops.
Send our brother some love and light; Kwame “Beans” Shakur can be reached by writing: Michael Joyner, 149677, Newcastle CF, 1000 Van Nuys, Newcastle IN 47362.