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October 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the historic and remarkable organizing initiative to boycott the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Dr. Harry Edwards led the boycott efforts, as well as the creation of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, in which he involved countless Black activists from throughout the country, including H. Rap Brown. On Oct. 21, 2018, I was fortunate to interview Dr. Edwards about his 1968 organizing efforts and his affiliation with H. Rap Brown (now Jamil Al-Amin) who also played a leading and inspirational role in this historic 1968 event.
Fifty years ago, students at San Francisco State embarked on a campus strike that lasted five months – the longest student strike in U.S. history. Led by the Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front, the strike was a high point of student struggle in the revolutionary year of 1968. It was met by ferocious repression, but the strikers persevered and won the first College of Ethnic Studies in the U.S. As part of Socialist Worker’s series on the history of 1968, current San Francisco State University Professor Jason Ferreira – the chair of the Race and Resistance Studies department in the College of Ethnic Studies and author of a forthcoming book on the student strike and the movements that produced it – talked to Julien Ball and Melanie West about the story of the struggle and the importance of its legacy for today.
Dr. King’s assassination was the key marker in the transition of a great era of social change, from one where “inclusion” in the broader capitalist system was the general thrust to one where the general focus of the Black fight for equality became a broadly defined “self-determination,” rooted in a recognition of the entrenched nature of racism, not simply as a function of attitudes, but as a method of social control.
At the modern intersection of Islamophobia and the Black Lives Matter movement resides Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), the now forgotten civil rights activist and revolutionary leader who, 16 years ago this year, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Fulton County, Ga., Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Leon Kinchen and the wounding of his partner, then-Sheriff’s Deputy Aldranon English, during a March 2000 gunfight.
There are many facts about King’s life that are not widely known to today’s African youth. One example is that he visited Africa before Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. Kwame Nkrumah invited King to Ghana’s independence celebration on March 6, 1957. Malcolm X’s first visited Egypt in 1959. King was light years ahead of his contemporaries on the South African question. It must be understood that the masses of Africans in the Western Hemisphere re-embraced pan-Africanism in the 1970s.
I would like to propose it is time to organize a new international campaign to persuade the U.N. International Jurists to initiate a formal investigation. This investigation would be based on discovering U.S. human rights violations as they pertain to our long-held political prisoners. I am proposing this campaign be organized under the slogan of “In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela,” as it is believed this slogan will resonate with progressives around the world. It will inspire them in international solidarity to join our efforts to persuade the U.N. International Jurists to initiate this call for a needed investigation.
Las Vegas cops jumped NFL star Michael Bennett, held a gun to his head and threatened to blow it off. How else could they have chosen the perfect target to prove that the U.S. is a racist police state? How else could their police union have followed up with a letter imploring NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate Bennett for defaming them by telling his story and claiming that the LVPD had racially profiled him? You can’t make this stuff up.
A group of civil rights era activists have passed the torch to a younger generation, so to speak. One week after the Movement for Black Lives released a wide-ranging, and long-awaited, policy platform, the activists’ vision for change has also earned an endorsement from delegates of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a famed student organizing group that formed in the 1960s.
Fifty years ago, on June 16, 1966, in Greenwood, Mississippi, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chair Kwame Ture, then known as Stokely Carmichael, addressed a crowd of youthful demonstrators and the media covering the militant March Against Fear and forcefully re-echoed our millennial and generational demand for “Black Power.”
I talked to a future repatriate, my comrade Dr. Chris Zamani, about his recent trip to South Africa in search of a homeland and a place for him to stick his flag. I talked to him about some of the factors that he has to consider in order to prepare to make that move. He has a very interesting outlook on history and life that is driving his decision to want to leave the U.S., and I wanted to share this ongoing conversation that we have been having with each other for the last few years. Check out Dr. Zamani in his own words ...
Dedon Kamathi, a former Black Panther and Central Committee member of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, passed away at the end of August after suffering a stroke. I first spoke with Dedon way back in the 1980s when I was arranging to bring Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) to speak in my then hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii. Dedon was one of the first revolutionary Black internationalists I was to get to know and work with, and his loss hit me hard.
Just five days after the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Watts Rebellion erupted, lasting several days. Today urban rebellion remains a key element in the struggle of the African American people against national oppression and economic exploitation. Since 2012, with the vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin and the resultant acquittal of George Zimmerman, a rising consciousness and intolerance for racism has been rapidly accelerating.
Margaret Stroud Block, long time civil rights activist, passed away June 20 in Cleveland, Mississippi, where she was born and raised. She lectured at universities and organizations throughout the U.S., particularly in the eastern part of the country, on civil rights and current education policies. Margaret was a dear friend. We met each other in the mid-‘80s when Proposition J was proposed.
Representatives at the forefront of the movements for Black lives and racial justice took a historic trip to Palestine in early January to connect with activists living under Israeli occupation. Black journalists, artists and organizers representing Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and more have joined the Dream Defenders for a 10-day trip to the occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.
I’ve finally seen “Selma” and can report it is a proper civil rights movie. By that I mean it takes few chances either thematically or aesthetically. The icons remain intact and the movement free from revisionist recriminations. This cautious strategy is understandable in a risk-averse Hollywood. Although boxed in by those kinds of commercial expectations, “Selma” delivers even more than it should.
Political Prisoner Imam Jamil Al Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, is in critical medical condition and in desperate need of our urgent action. Imam Jamil was a dominant and influential figure in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of the 1960s. He served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and later as Minister of Justice for the Black Panther Party.
The fiery H. Rap Brown, chairperson of SNCC, minister of justice for the Black Panther Party and one of the original four targets of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO to neutralize Black power, is presently entombed in the federal prison at Florence, Colorado, one of the world’s 10 worst prisons. Pursued relentlessly since the ‘60s, he was wrongfully convicted in 2002 – the prosecutor bragging that they finally got him after trying for 24 years. His wife, attorney Karima Al-Amin, tells his story on the Block Report.
My comrade Obi Egbuna’s father, with the same name, recently passed, and it was not until his old man died that I became aware of Senior’s well-documented history in the Pan African Movement. I am honored to salute the life of his father, Obi Egbuna Sr., and to enlighten our readers on some Pan Afrikan history. Here is Obi Egbuna Jr. in his own words ...
By now millions of Americans have heard about COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO was the FBI’s evil and illegal system of spying, lying, telephone wire taps, frame-ups and assassination that violated the constitutional and human rights that they claim to uphold. I was recently asked, while doing a Black Panther Party historical tour in Oakland, how COINTELPRO affected me personally. Here is one of my stories.
Contradictions in White America’s treatment of Blacks, which were exposed by the Black Power Movement, fashioned another side of King, according to his last speech and his writings. A side that began to embrace Black nationalist tactics and strategies as a means to achieve freedom, justice and equality for Black people. A side that accelerated Dr. Kings’ assassination.
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