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 forward – 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.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Brother Minister!

By Charles Brooks

We celebrate the birthday of Malcolm X, who would have been 89 years old today. With May 19th quickly approaching, the question for me, was a typical one for any writer – what can I write about Malcolm X that has not been written before?  But after a few short moments of reflection and thinking about his significance, his legacy, I realized 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 re-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.  The significance of Malcolm X, that is his legacy deepens as his words carries the heavy weight of relevance to the current issues of the day. Malcolm X was a teacher but he was also an organizer, a builder.  He was unflinching. Uncompromising.  Courageous. He confronted the face of American apartheid and the body 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 human rights activist and organizer. He was a Black Nationalist and a Pan Africanist, who believed in and was committed to building a movement where Black people controlled their community and one 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.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Twenty nine years later - never to be forgotten...


Courtesy of A Zeitgeist Films release.
Simply put - there are events that occur that must not be allowed to escape our collective memory, only to become buried and forgotten.  Such is the case back on Mother's Day in 1985 - May 13th. Twenty nine years later, the scars remain, the acrid smell still burns and lingers in memory.  On that day eleven people were killed, murdered - five were children - innocent Black children.  Over sixty homes were destroyed and over 250 people were without a place to live.  On that day the Philadelphia police department dropped a bomb - yes, that's right - they dropped a bomb on a city block.  But the  bomb was dropped after nearly 10,000 rounds of ammunition was fired by 500 police officers along with teargas.  Now the mayor at that time - Mr. Wilson Goode - a Black mayor gave the "go-ahead" to  launch an attack of sheer terror on MOVE.  For those who are well informed about the MOVE-9, well, then this is just what they say - preaching to the choir. But there are many who are not aware of what happened or more importantly  - the connection to state terror.

Why would Mayor Goode take such an extreme approach with MOVE? Well, lets first understand  MOVE...they were founded in 1972 by Vincent Leaphart renamed John Africa, whose political views and subsequent protests were in direct contrast to  the political agenda of Philadelphia's City Hall and Police Department.  As a result, there would be a number of confrontations between MOVE and the police that ultimately led to the terrorist act of bombing a city block on Mothers Day in 1985 - when mothers and children were killed.

See this backgrounder put together by Temple University who holds archived records to what occurred on May 13th: The confrontation was the culmination of a dozen years of activity on the part of MOVE, which had emerged in the early 1970s as a small and very extreme "back to nature" radical group following the teachings of the self styled John Africa. Years of increasing trouble with police and neighbors in the Powelton area of West Philadelphia ended in a gun battle in August 1978 in which one policeman was killed and nine MOVE members arrested and eventually sentenced to jail terms. A number of the remaining MOVE members - all of whom were black - settled in 1982 and 1983 in a house on the 6200 block of Osage Avenue in the Cobbs Creek area, a predominately middle class black neighborhood. They began to campaign for the release of the comrades and in May 1984 started day and night denunciations of their enemies through a loudspeaker.  
During an 2010 interview between Democracy Now and the lone surviving adult of the 1985 bombing, Ramona Africa, she explained the Mayor's motivations: "I want people to understand is that that bombing did not happen because of some complaints from neighbors. This government had never cared about black folks complaining about their neighbors or any other people complaining about their neighbors. They bombed us because of our unrelenting fight for our family members, known as the MOVE 9, who have been in prison unjustly going on thirty-two years now, as a result of the August 8th, 1978 police attack on MOVE. I just wanted to make that clear."

Less than a month after the massacre, the Mayor signed an executive order establishing the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission.  See here and here for excerpts from the Commission's Report that indicated:

"The bomb was larger and more powerful than police originally said. It weighed 4.5 pounds and included a powerful plastic explosive known as C-4. This disclosure contradicted officials` statements in May that the bomb weighed only 2 pounds and had not contained C-4."

"The Mayor abdicated his responsibilities as a leader when, after midday, he permitted a clearly failed operation to continue which posed great risk to life and property; On May 13, the key decision makers were prevented from easily and directly contacting each other because of an inadequate communications system; The plan to bomb the Move house was reckless, ill-conceived and hastily approved; Dropping a bomb on an occupied row house was unconscionable and should have been rejected out-of-hand."

For additional reading go to articles published in for an oral history and an inside account of what occurred on May 13th.  There's also the documentary website here, for "Let the Fire Burn" and an interview with the film's director here.

What happened on May 13th - on Mother's Day - should never be the MOVE-9 and call the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole at 717-772-4343.  


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Saturday, May 3, 2014

To Friends and Supporters of The Blackboard

To the Friends of the Blackboard
If you are reading this – I want to extend my many thanks to you for taking valuable time out of your busy schedule to read my posts to my blog here and to The Blackboard’s Facebook page.  I am truly honored and remain committed to providing you with a quality product – sharp analysis and thought-provoking commentary.  I am going on vacation for two weeks and will return with new posts May 19th – maybe sooner!

What’s new to The Blackboard:
You can now enter your email address to sign up for automatic email alerts when there are new posts to The Blackboard.
There are real-time streaming news feed of four top political stories about the 2014 elections.
A new page: Multimedia – Culture, Politics and History page contains archived iconic photographs as well as links to interactive web sites related to history and culture.
You can visit and follow us on our Facebook page here at and see our posts there too.
With the executions reigniting the death penalty debate – Take THE BLACKBOARD SURVEY on the death penalty – are you FOR or AGAINST the death penalty
Updates to the Resource page – for education – see the recent report on New York’s segregated schools, and links to resources on the Common Core as well as the emerging opposition to it and the political implications. There are also links on the recent $98 million Black firefighter settlement.
We have new posts providing a critical look at the recently released Clinton Papers and, the Obama’s new initiative – My Brother’s Keeper’s.
The Blackboard publishes content every week – so check back with us on Monday and Tuesday for new posts.  If you like what you see on The Blackboard – send somebody you know a link to The Blackboard so they can be informed too.  Check out our page on Facebook for political and cultural posts – and Follow us on Facebook!  Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to connect and read what we publish on The Blackboard. 

Charles Brooks