Today we celebrate Kwame Ture day of birth, June 29th, 1941. The following is a reprint of an article that I wrote for The Black World Today back in February 1997 when the late Kwame Ture has honored by the United African Movement in Brooklyn, New York.
By Charles Brooks
His fiery spirit still burns strong! The scene was a perfect setting for what was about to occur. The sweet smell of incense filled the air, giving way to the flags of various African nations that were displayed overhead. As always there was a mood of fellowship and spirituality - joined by the common goal that brought the audience together to learn from the honoree, Kwame Ture.
The air was filled with electricity and anticipation as the packed audience waited to hear the words of the self-proclaimed revolutionary. The silence that filled the room as Alton Maddox, chairman of the United African Movement completed his introduction, quickly turned to a standing ovation as Kwame Ture took the microphone.
As he began to speak in strong and fiery tones, his shaven head proved to be the only reminder that this was a man who just last year suffered from prostate cancer. He spoke for over an hour with passion and undying love for his people about what he knows best…revolution and organizing! “There’s no greater honor than to die for your people,” said Mr. Ture.
Speaking from a revolutionary vantage point, he offered his ingredients to what would serve as a foundation to attain freedom for oppressed Blacks in America and Africa. Throughout the evening he offered insights into the dynamics of the conscious and unconscious elements that exist within the oppressed Black people. He reminded his audience about the realities of being conscious. “A people cannot be free unless they are conscious,” asserted Mr. Ture.
He educated the audience of the many differences between the conscious and the unconscious. Mr. Ture says that the conscious seeks out their own information and history while knowing who their enemies are. He explains that he unconscious are not aware of what they’ re doing and reacts on instinct and then falls on instinct while the conscious are aware that when you rise up – you must stay up. “This is the central task as a people,” added Mr. Ture. He went on to explain that the conscious understands the importance of what thinking and acting together can do for a people and that the struggle is constant.
After Mr. Ture dissected the elements of the conscious and unconscious, the audience was treated to his discussion on the significance of organizing and belonging to an organization. He recalled many times that he was arrested and not having to worry about bail or legal representation because he knew whatever organization he was affiliated with, would take care of him.
A dedicated Pan-Africanist for over 30 years, he said, “I’m not a leader – I’m an organizer!” Mr. Ture says that as Black people, we need to organize and belong to an organization. He says that when our brothers and sisters get together our political affiliation should be a part of our greeting, such as, “Hey brother, I’m with UAM – who are you with?” Mr. Ture went on to say, “An individual can do nothing by themselves.”
Throughout the evening, Mr. Ture consistently articulated his wisdom from perspective of revolution. On occasion he laughed and joked with the audience as he shared his boyhood experiences. These are the same experiences that helped to shape the political activism of the man that stood before the masses on February 5th, 1997 - a revolutionary. As many of his friends can attest, Mr. Ture still answers his telephone the same way - “Ready for revolution!” - because as he said many times, "I am a revolutionary…100%!”