Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Blackboard remembers Kwame Ture - June 29, 1941 - November 15 1998


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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Walter Rodney's Intellectual and Political Thought, Reviewed by L.V. Gaither

A few years back Mr. L. V. Gaither wrote an insightful book review about Rupert Charles Lewis’ book, Walter  Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought. In reading through Mr. Gaither’s critique of Mr. Lewis’ book as well as his own observations of the Guyanese scholar-activist, you will see how Mr. Gaither’s writing clearly highlights the significance of Dr. Walter Rodney’s legacy.   The fact that there are just a handful of books about Dr. Rodney simply raises the value of both Mr. Lewis’ important book as well as Mr. Gaither’s review of it.  Although Mr. Gaither’s book review was published in 1998 – nearly sixteen years ago – it is plain to see why Dr. Rodney’s legacy has grown even stronger as the years go by.

L. V. Gaither is the publisher of The Gaither Reporter, and author of Loss of Empire: Legal Lynching, Vigilantism, and African American Intellectualism in the 21st Century. Mr. Gaither has written many essays and articles published in several publications.

WALTER RODNEY’S INTELLECTUAL AND POLITICAL THOUGHT
Reviewed by L.V. Gaither
Walter Rodney, born in British Guiana in 1942, was one of the most outstanding historians within the radical, international Caribbean tradition. Largely remembered for his Marxist reading of the underdevelopment of Africa, Rodney possessed that rare capacity to take theory and situate it into practical politics; to push liberating ideas beyond the limits of one’s imagination into concrete reality. Although Rodney’s life, and correspondingly his course of revolutionary activity, ended when he was assassinated at the young age of 38, his intellectual production continues to resonate in the international arena.

 Rupert Lewis’s new book delves deeply into the impressive and wide-ranging panorama of Rodney’s political and intellectual thought. As I read it, I was reminded over and over again that at a time when a reassessment of Rodney’s ideas could benefit us most, his contributions to Caribbean and African political thought are unfamiliar to the present generation. Popular awareness of his contributions to the intellectual formation of black radicalism in North America is limited mostly to his book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. But even here, as the next generation emerges to take the reins of political, social, and intellectual leadership, prospects for understanding the importance of this major work are fading.

Monday, June 16, 2014

We remember Dr. Walter Rodney (1942-1980)


PART I

Last Friday, June 13th marked 34 years since the Dr. Walter Rodney was killed on that fateful day in 1980 – on Friday the 13th. Dr. Rodney was a revolutionary and noted Guyanese scholar-activist - particularly for his work in Caribbean and African history and politics. Due to the still unanswered questions regarding Dr. Rodney’s death, his wife, Dr. Pat Rodney waged a relentless campaign for over 30 years - pressuring the Guyanese government to investigate her husband’s death. You see, Dr. Rodney was killed by a bomb, apparently planted in a walkie-talkie, given to him by one, Gregory Smith, a former officer in the Guyanese Defense Force (GDF). Dr. Rodney paid the ultimate price for his political views and for his subsequent political activism - death - death by political assassination.

Dr. Pat Rodney’s efforts paid off when last year, the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate Dr. Rodney’s murder. President Donal Ramotar said that convening the commission was “in response to a direct request from Ms. Patricia Rodney.” The President told the Guyana Chronicle: “At no time did we discuss the Commission at any level of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). This is purely a Presidential Commission; I responded to the heartfelt cry of Ms. Rodney, who is advancing in age, and who wants to get some answers.”

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Tribute to the People's Scholar - Elombe Brath (1936 - 2014)

By Charles Brooks

UPDATED October 1st, 2017:
On September 30th, 2017 there was a ceremony held in Harlem, New York to recognize the extensive legacy of Mr. Elombe Brath by co-naming the southwest corner of 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr.Blvd as Elombe Brath Way.  Since his passing, the Elombe Brath Foundation was established to archive  his incredible body of work to inspire future generations of Pan-African leaders. 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On May 31st, Elombe Brath was laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery after services were held at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.  The day started with a mass community tribute to Mr. Brath – a walking procession through the streets of Harlem in honor of his incredible body of work - “Morning Walk Through Harlem Retracing Our Brother’s History.” The people walked freely in the streets of Harlem, sharing stories and their memories of Mr. Brath who was active in so many struggles within the movement such as his work against the oppressive South African apartheid, supporting African nationalist movements, the movement to free Mumia-Abu Jamal, and all political prisoners, the reparations movement, the Hands off Assata Shakur campaign, the Central Park 5 case and his participation in the United Nations World Conference against Racism, to name a few.

Mr. Elombe Brath, was born on September 30th, 1936 and made the transition to join the ancestors on May 19th at 77 years old.  Over two thousand people came out to pay their respects to Mr. Brath and his legacy. Mr. Brath stood tall in Black activist circles not just in New York City but in the Caribbean and Africa as well.  He was indeed a revolutionary – a committed activist in the Pan African and Black Liberation Movements. There is no doubt that Mr. Brath’s legacy is solidified in the annals of Pan African and Black Liberation history and activism - branded with his reputation as a tireless and relentless activist in pursuit of Black Liberation.  

For a moment or two, take a collective breath and slowly consider some of Mr. Brath’s work that his legacy is built upon: There was his work with the Federation of Pan-African Nationalist Organizations or FOPANO that eventually led to the formation of African Liberation Support Committee and to what we know today as African Liberation Day.  As the founder and chairman of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition – he kept Mr. Lumumba’s name alive and legacy relevant by linking it contemporary developments in Africa.                                           

Monday, May 26, 2014

African Liberation Day 2014: worldwide solidarity with African Independence

By Charles Brooks

May 25th marks the worldwide celebration of African Liberation Day. Yes – African Liberation Day and although you will not find no mention of this in any of the American mainstream press – nevertheless, African Liberation Day is indeed a worldwide celebration. In addition to a continent wide celebration in Africa, there are also celebrations taking in France, Martinque, Trindad, Ireland, Melborne, Australia, Norway, and Sweden. In Africa, The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions in Limpopo will host a joint Africa Day with the Labour Federation from Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, jazz concerts taking place in South Africa and Malawi, a workshop on African Unity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and many more events planned.  May 25th is indeed a significant day to remember the African nationalist movements that demanded and then wrested independence from their colonial masters. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Advancing Malcolm's work...



Typically, when there are ceremonies honoring Malcolm X, there are subtle reminders about Malcolm X as an iconized mythical figure.  Dr. Peniel Joseph, Professor of History at Tufts University, recently wrote: “In death, Malcolm became larger than he had been in life. Black radicals embraced him as the revolutionary avatar of black liberation in America and around the world. His posthumously published autobiography became a best-seller, and his legacy inspired numerous books, a U.S. postage stamp, a major motion picture and a Malcolm X revival during the early 1990s,” Dr. Peniel continues, “In 2014 Malcolm X matters now more than ever. His political integrity and personal sincerity set a high bar for all future black leaders. His identification with, and love for, the black working class set an enduring standard. Malcolm didn’t just love black people—he respected them enough to challenge them, offering stinging criticism in some instances and gentle prodding in others.”

Let’s grapple with the first sentence for a moment…Malcolm became larger than he had been in life – there may be good reason for this. For example, the influence that Malcolm's work had, not only on the formation of Black Power and Black Liberation movements but on the civil rights movement as well. Organizations such as the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE),  the Black Panthers, Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), and the Republic of New Afrika to name a few were all inspired and shaped by Malcolm's Black Nationalism. 

When you can begin to understand the pivotal role these movements, organizations and individuals had in carrying this struggle foward – then you can begin to understand exactly what Malcolm X meant to so many who advanced and carried his work forward.  That would begin to explain why the Brother Minister grew larger in death.  But there’s more…

Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Brother Minister!

By Charles Brooks

We celebrate the birthday of Malcolm X – where on this day in 1925, he would have been 89 years old. Knowing that the 19th was approaching, the question for me, was a typical one for any writer – what can I write that has not been written before?  But after a few short moments of thinking about his significance - his legacy – writing about Malcolm X would not be too difficult. When I think about Malcolm X, my first thought is how much this man is sorely missed considering today’s empty space of true leadership.  After reading through a few of his speeches, I was reminded that although he was taken much too soon - how so much material he left behind, almost a blueprint to be followed.  And that’s the significance of Malcolm X – that is his legacy – the continued and uninterrupted relevance of his words to the current issues of the day. But in addition to that – he remains a hero to so many because he was unflinching, uncompromising and courageous in the face of American apartheid in the bowels of white supremacy. That’s why it is so disturbing when revisionist history attempts to casts Malcolm as civil rights activist  - Malcolm X was always a Black Nationalist who believed in and was committed to building a movement that connected Blacks across the world from America to the Caribbean to Africa.  The words of Malcolm X continues to resonate very deeply in the Black communities all over the country because those words were delivered with such a powerful clarity coupled with a forward thinking that is unseen today amongst those who are self-called leaders.  That is why the Brother Minister means so much today – why the legacy of Malcolm X continues to grow and inspire. Its no mystery why Malcolm has such an undeniable strong connection with Black communities all over the country – he stood toe to toe against white supremacy and did not blink.