I talked with a huge group of college students and faculty today. They mostly wanted me to talk about the “glory days” of my being in SCLC then SNCC and then the Black Panther Party. For some it’s “sexy”..exciting and they always ask the same predictable questions.. the guns, the FBI..and as usual when I get to the part of being an African American. who not only worked for equality in America but went to prison doing that in Israel. as well as taking part in the anti-colonial wars in several African countries..it really shakes them up….you know…a Black American taking …the struggle to an international level..it’s still hard for a lot of people to wrap their minds around that..it’s supposed to be all about “we shall overcome”, or leather jackets and shotguns…Well today I spent less time on that and went to what bites my ass today. My state, Pennsylvania , has a republican ruled legislature.my country…the good old USA has a republican Senate as well as the House…and what are most of the people who would be and should be organizing the opposition to Trump…and or looking for candidates to help take these legislatures back doing ?? Well a lot of them are still ….yes still demonizing Hillary Clinton..they act like the Democratic primary is still on And just like during the election they have an obsession with making Hillary..who is no longer running for office the villain . Something totally of no consequence now. I have been doing my normal fall voter education and registration stuff. As well as trying to identify communities were voter participation have been traditionally low…My people in Chester Pa. have registered 1200 new voters in the last two weeks. I will be checking on my regular folks working in N.W. Philly next week ..but I know they have been having “teach-ins” and forums on how to run for office …and finding good candidates and how to help them win….this is NOT Move.On .org…nor the local “missionaries” that call themselves Neighborhood Networks…these are just ordinary people from churches and campuses and senior citizens homes working in their OWN communities…and then I come home to see all the so-called “activists” doing nothing but bitching about HIllary on facebook..this stupidity is a big part of the matrix of things that cost us the election. Grow up …get over it….get to work…or at least if you are still doing the “get Hillary” thing SHUT UP…it would be a great help
I did not want to write this, I have been busy getting over chemo, as well as a cardiac procedure that came later. And the simple business of being there for my family has gotten complex since my daughters accident . But both at the supermarket yesterday as well as just now at the Sunoco station several people want to know how I feel about this District attorney’s race. First just in case you don’t know is I have NEVER jumped on a “bandwagon” in my life. I have NEVER chose a candidate to vote for because it was trendy or “cool” to do so. Or because I wanted to party with the “hip” people….and oh yeah ….the hardest part of this choice is remembering that there are NEVER any “perfect” candidates.Now with all that being said….nobody is going to like this who is with the “in” crowd..I’ve been out of circulation …but I have not been dead…There are three candidates that stick out for me …with good reason to vote for them …but they ALL still have many negatives… My three choices are Joe Khan…a scary former federal prosecutor with all that ” mandatory minimum sentences” baggage.as well as having gone along with other questionable policies ..but he has risen to seem like the most competent of the candidates running.and he is an “outsider”.but running the D.As office is something I would trust him with..this would be my choice if I just wanted to “play it safe”…then there is Rich Negrin..he knows all the right people…a lot of people feel they owe him favors for shadowy things we don’t know about.worst of all this man is the choice of both the local police unions…he is indeed scary ….stinky ..but many, MANY people I trust and have worked with over the years have “stepped in line” to endorse him…he certainly knows city hall ….knows everybody in city council …and knows where ALL the bodies are buried…but again even with that smell..I would consider him another safe choice…third candidate is Lawrence Krasner ..just like Negrin he has a HUGE bandwagon following..both trusted old comrades as well as the clueless elite liberal hordes have jumped into this following…what gives me cause to again have to hold my nose is even though I have seen Krasner be there for Black Lives Matter..and step in for what he calls civil rights cases….I have to admit that in all five case where I have encountered the man in person….that old arrogant patronizing “white liberal thing” where he talks to white people in one tone of voice …and talks to black people like they are children.was ALWAYS there..But after the last election I have taken to talking about this particular “malady ” more…because it’s time for it to stop…this is a struggle white people have to look inside themselves and have the courage…or even the balls to admit and deal with…and I have to say that Krasner shares this problem with about half the “white liberal males” I know……and a lot of the women too..so he is not alone …Hey after 52 years as an activist and organizer maybe this is something I’m tired of running from…So these three are who I think would be the best choices…and to say what about 30 people on the street asked me just today. With EXTREME caution I am voting for Lawrence Krasner….not for ANY of the reasons you hear in his adds…but simply because with the District Attorney’s department we have had for the last few decades I WANT SOMETHING BETTER….I can’t stand Krasher but like I said ..the “perfect” candidate does not exist….so I’m taking a chance…a leap of faith…or hey it could be something else..I’m also voting for Mark B. Cohen the son of my “Philly politics” mentor David Cohen..for judge of the court of common pleas…..there I said it all ….you may not like it ..the thing is you get to make your own choice when you vote tuesday ….but PLEASE VOTE
This is one of my favorite historical pictures of all time ….This is Gloria Richardson…and she was one of Malcolm X’s heroes …Gloria Hayes Richardson was born on May 6, 1922 in Baltimore, Maryland to parents John and Mabel Hayes. During the Great Depression her parents moved the family to Cambridge, Maryland, the home of Mabel Hayes. Young Gloria grew up in a privileged environment. Her grandfather, Herbert M. St. Clair, was one of the town’s wealthiest citizens. He owned numerous properties in the city’s Second Ward which included a funeral parlor, grocery store and butcher shop. He was also the sole African American member of the Cambridge City Council through most of the early 20th Century.
Gloria attended Howard University in Washington at the age of 16 and graduated in 1942 with a degree in sociology. After Howard, she worked as a civil servant for the federal government in World War II-era Washington, D.C. but returned to Cambridge after the war. Despite her grandfather’s political and economic influence, the Maryland Department of Social Services, for example, refused to hire Gloria or any other black social workers. Gloria Hayes married local school teacher Harry Richardson in 1948 and raised a family for the next thirteen years.
When the civil rights movement came to Cambridge in 1961 in the form of Freedom Riders, the town was thoroughly segregated and the African American unemployment rate was 40%. Gloria Richardson’s teenage daughter, Donna, became involved with the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) effort to desegregate public accommodations. Gloria, however, refused to commit herself to non-violence as a protest tactic.
When the SNCC-led protests faltered in 1962, Gloria and other parents created the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC) which became the only adult-led SNCC affiliate in the civil rights organization’s history. CNAC enlarged the scope of grievances to include housing and employment discrimination and inadequate health care. Richardson was selected to lead CNAC.
This Richardson-led effort differed from most other civil rights campaigns of the era. It took place in a border state rather than the Deep South. It addressed a much wider array of issues rather than the one or two that motivated other campaigns. Since Richardson and her followers refused to commit to non-violence as a philosophy or a tactic, CNAC protests were far more violent and confrontative. Protests in 1963, for example, prompted Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes to send in the Maryland National Guard. The Guard remained in the city, which was effectively under martial law, for nearly a year. The Cambridge Movement also drew the attention of U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy who unsuccessfully attempted to broker an agreement between Cambridge’s white political leaders and Richardson’s CNAC.
By the summer of 1964 Richardson resigned from the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee citing her exhaustion from leading nearly two years of continuous demonstrations. Richardson, who had divorced Harry Richardson in the late 1950s, married freelance photographer Frank Dandridge. The couple moved to New York City with Richardson’s younger daughter Tamara.
I have not written any new entries here for a while….I guess I just put to much of myself into the last election …and more than politically burned out from the results…The last time I posted this picture , an old friend complemented me on taking such a nice picture when I was a young man. But to most of you I don’t have to tell you, this is Dr. Martin Luther King born Micheal King Jr .he is at Morehouse College in 1948. I always stop and honor Dr. King on this day. But most of the time I don’t go out and do any special activities on the Holiday that is his birthday. I have tried to make everyday that I am able to serve as Martin Luther King Day. I won’t say I was a friend of Dr. Kings. He certainly knew who I was. He was a very early hero to me long before the march on Washington. But I was much too young to have been in his circle. And as a youngster I tried very hard to spend as much time with the people I considered the “movers and shakers” in the civil rights movement. I must have washed Martins car about 10 times. and helped cut the grass at his house a few times. But for me as I grew further into my teens. It was Julian Bond, and John Lewis, Diane Nash, Lonnie King, C.T. Vivian and a lot of other people you never heard of from SNCC and the Atlanta student movement that called to me and formed my idea of the type of activist I wanted to be. Even though Atlanta Georgia was the only true Metropolis soaked in the culture of “Jim Crow” It probably was the biggest threat to the old segregated culture..Because as anyone who knows the area can tell you, the city is full of historically Black educational institutions and even today it’s the Black educational capital of the world..many movements from the civil rights era may have started in other towns …with student and clergy from other places. But they all seemed to gather in our city when the movement matured. I got to see it all happen. The meetings . planning sessions. And all the talk about what tactics to use. heard many of the arguments between different factions. And I was just a kid. But that was rarefied air to be in if you were growing up then and there. I still remember the talks among my “elders”..meaning 22-30 year olds ..making plans to risk their lives on campaigns to change the way we lived “down south” as well as the way Black people all over America saw themselves and how we were perceived by the rest of the country as well as the rest of the world. These same people lead me to be able to go to several other countries and see and participate in movements for freedom and justice for oppressed people , Angola , Palestine, North Viet Nam and other countries. There is a reason why I am so disgusted by “coonery” , deadbeat dads, monkeyfied rappers, and hip-hop hoochie mamas. Back then ALL the images we saw of ourselves were clowns, maids , janitors, criminals, shoe shine boys, “bucks” and Mammies. And these people in the movement were the best and the brightest of us. Risking not just any future success in employment but their lives in order that the coming generation could walk unthreatened. with dignity and pride…..seems like a simple thing today….but it was not. Today’s activist need to understand that it was a deadly business. Most of us didn’t expect to live past 30……..and many did not. Martin Luther King was NOT Santa Claus , and God bless him our Dear John Lewis who Trump insulted this week is not. Regardless of whether you always agree with Lewis today….I consider him one of the the bravest Americans who ever lived. I was on that bridge in Selma when we were both along with dozens of other people beaten and trampled by horses and gassed. I know we did not “fix” America back then …..but there are a hell of a lot of things black, brown and poor people can do today that they couldn’t do before the movement….and it goes on ..and it should everyday..NO Martin was not Santa..the movement was not “cute and fluffy”…and one day of service won’t change sh*t. Honor Martin in what you do everyday…….thanks…..just an “old head” talking
This photo was taken on a day in 1970 when as a Captain in the Black Panther Party I addressed thousands of people at an anti-Viet Nam war rally in Atlanta. Well the election of 2016 is over and I don’t think anybody saw the results coming just the way they did..after some rest and taking care of some medical stuff. I hope I can still find that guy in the picture somewhere inside..with his lack of fear and his intelligence, to face life In Trumps America and still hold on to the wisdom that I have today. I was told today by an old comrade from those days that I had “too many white people” in my life. I think that looking at the fact that so many of my so-called liberal and progressive white friends seem to be totally blind to what is happening …..and what will happen to the poor and non-white among us after this 9/11 for us. They are already starting to fight over whether the result would have been different if Bernie had been the candidate…a cosmically stupid question. Or suggesting that getting rid of the electoral college could be a fix…well wake the fuck up ! ! !..none of that changes the fact that the sleeping racist giant that really is America and always has been has been awoken ….and emboldened ….they have proof now that being them is the right thing..If you white liberals still want to be called “allies” and not something else. You need to at least try to see this from the “darker” perspective ( no pun intended )..getting rid of the electoral college won’t help or change a damn thing… working on the still racist nature of being a white American will..and that includes your arrogant brand of liberal racism too….
Hillary Clinton is not my most favored person to run for President ….in fact NOBODY who has run for president in the last 60 years has been…for almost thirty years the worst people in the American political system have waged a propaganda war on this woman that for the most part had it’s beginnings in the simple phrase “How dare that bitch do that” ..in other words it really pissed them off that the wife of a President they did not like would DARE. Over the years this war of accusations and nasty words kept up. And last year when I was actually campaigning for another person …Bernie Sanders I began to hear all that bullshit from young idealistic Sanders supporters who were simply too busy watching “Sesame Street” when the Republican war on Hillary started to know that most of this had it’s roots in bullshit. And they began to repeat all those old republican talking points like they were real…It didn’t help that the Clintons …who had NEVER been rich people used their celebrity after the Bill Clinton presidency to finally get rich. When Hillary ran for President for me it really sounded like we could get four more years of an Obama like administration…and let me say here that I am a Maoist Communist way down in my core…and although I worked for Obama’s election, as many of you know he was far from what I would call my ideal candidate or President ..in fact within weeks of Obama’s taking the oath as president I was on facebook and in the streets protesting positions he had taken..anything Hillary did as a member of the Obama administration as Sec of state she did as an employee of Barack Obama…Although I campaigned for Bernie Sanders in the primary ..just like I was willing to have an Obama presidency I’m willing to have a Hillary Clinton presidency..she is no more a “killary” than Obama was or is. and actually less of a “hawk” than he is ….but a hawk all the same…and just like with every single person who has been president since I could read a newspaper I will have many disagreements with..I mean come on she ain’t a Maoist Communist so she can’t be perfect…but we know what the alternative is…we know who Trump is……some of us have even figured out what he is…I am willing to fight with Hillary rather than see the people suffer under Trump….it’s just that simple. VOTE THIS TUESDAY….or I don’t want to here any of your CRAP
One of the things that has really bothered me in this crazy election year. has been the way so many people become victim to the “bandwagon” mentality. If something becomes popular with enough people to reach a certain “critical mass” then it becomes something many people think they just have to do, or think, or at least try to say they believe in. I mean you can’t be considered “hip” or cool unless you embrace certain ways of seeing things or making certain “talking points” a part of your normal conversation.No matter how stupid..if enough people think it’s cool ..you say it too..Among many Black people this had lead to a type of anti-intellectualism . You shut down critical analysis because it just “ain’t cool” any more.One of the ways this manifests itself in today’s world is the “I’m tired of hearing about slavery” crowd..I consider this a childish and backward rejection of a part of our history that still affects us more than any. While I understand why one would say this, from my experience to make such a statement has more to do with ones sense of “racial self esteem”..As Important as it is to study the complete Black Historical experience..from pre-history to now. We still are being influenced by the experience of slavery as a people ..and as a nation… I was a part of that generation that while maybe not the first but certainly was the first in mass to begin to study and research Black History beyond the time of slavery. Fifty years ago we were making pilgrimages to west Africa, saving up to go to Ethiopia, Somalia, Seeing sites in the Middle East. I went to Algeria, and Israel , and Tunisia as well yes Egypt. in search of Black History before slavery. I wanted to find out as much as i could about Moorish history and religion. Important stuff, true. What this all lead me back to is that we still don’t have a really complete understanding of the psychological impact of slavery. or the long lasting pathology that causes us as Black people to act out is some ways over and over in generation after generation. I’m tired of hearing people say “I don’t want to see any more movies about slavery.” Well true there is a lot more to our story than that……a lot more. And I would like to see more films and published studies on Pre-slavery Black history. But we have only scratched the surface of the peculiar institution of slavery. So yes I’m looking forward to another film that deals with slavery…but this one..called “Birth of a Nation” deals with a part of the slave experience most of the films have stayed away from….Rebellion…so it may turn out to be a good film….and it may not. But that anti-intellectual bullshit about “I don’t want to see another slave film” will not keep me out of the theater..to see the trailer use this link.....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIlUerVomDE
JUST IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW. Donald Trump has now called himself the “Law and Order” candidate..and has said at least three times that Law and order will be the “hallmark” of his presidency. Well I remember very well the last time a person ran for president as the “law and order” president…1968. This person used the fact that people were organizing in mass movements to protest an unjust war. The fact that the civil rights movement had grown to the point of addressing economic issues and foreign policy. A national organization born of the struggle to end police brutality and fight the militarization of police forces had grown to take on many of the responsibilities that aid to dependent children should have been taking on…was demonized and had hundreds of it’s members vilified ..murdered..incarcerated ..framed..This person used all those things happening in our country to scare the shit out of the majority of white Americans… won that election….turned the Presidency into an Imperial office..literally formed a separate government agency for the purpose of cheating in the re-election campaign, stole the re-election …got caught by it’s own arrogance and the President ended up having to resign in disgrace…Guess what ?? last night the republicans put up another “Law and order” candidate…And rather than seeing how this is happening …many alleged “progressives” are still bathing in the “sour grapes” of not getting the nomination for their “darling ” candidate….they need to shut the hell up and join us in some serious work we all need to do..
As I begin writing this it is Sunday morning. All the news shows on TV are doing stories on the Dallas police shootings..and just as I was getting my coffee the kitchen radio tells me that there have been several incidents of “police ambush”…This sends a horrible chill up and down my spine….for reasons I will get into later. First let’s set the stage. In the last few days seemingly back to back we have had a Black man shot, on camera, lying down, subdued with two huge white men on top of him and suddenly he is shot several times. Then the next morning we see a video of a desperate Black woman with a baby in her car. And next to her is a Black man in a Bloody shirt, and as the scene goes on we see a policeman still pointing a gun inside the car as the woman, who remarkably managed to remain calm tells us and the now screaming officer that she thinks her “boyfriend” is dead. For me it seems just hours later that I find out that while I was sleeping ( I’m on a lot of meds because I am dealing with a cardio/pulmonary condition ) What at first seemed like several gun-toting people had shot more than several police officers during a “Black Lives Matter” rally ..killing at least five. .I am in my mid sixties….we have been here before. The years 1969 and 1970 were some fierce times. Police brutality and abuse have led to the formation of the Black Panther Party a few years before. The Party started out as a reaction to police brutality and cruelty in the extreme..And yes, the police were what we in those days called “trigger happy”..I feel compelled here to say that even in those days there were police officers who felt bewildered by the behavior of their fellow officers. And in the part of the country where I lived every year you would hear about some officer who “broke the code” and complained about excessive force used by some other officer…most of the time these people ended up leaving the force. We began to hear about these “whistle blowing” cops less and less…I now assume that it does not happen any more..The Black Panther Party in the beginning would follow police around, and when the police stopped a driver or confronted a citizen for any reason we would observe the situation and make sure the police followed procedure. This alone could be called a revolutionary action…in case you don’t know…..it got a lot worse. As the years went on the government began to position itself more and more in opposition to the BPP. We began to be raided ..ambushed and murdered at an alarming rate….and as time went on partially out of frustration but we know now partially because of people planted among us for the purpose of agent provocateur. There came to be people who wanted to declare “war” on police…punish them for every incident of abuse….Now let me say here that this is NOT a history of the Black Panther Party…I’m just setting the stage to tell you about how some very specific events came to happen. By late 1969, I began to meet people..some had been in the BPP at some point often having been thrown out…but even more who had never been a part of the Party. People who were trying to form underground armies..and Police assassination brigades. And yes …some people who I knew or had met actually carried out some of these actions..the most spectacular was when police were called to an address and got there and picked up a package in the room and it exploded. I was told later that this was an “initiation”..There are many of these people still being hunted by the government today…This is the memory that sent waves of fear through my body..Because I remember what happened after that…it became open season on Black activist of all kinds. I lost many really good friends and many people including myself went into exile moving to Cuba, parts of Africa and the Middle Eastand to South America …..some live there still ..in places I won’t talk about….did it make police behave any better toward citizens ? …..no…What it taught us is that when you live inside the cruelist most violent country in the world ..that society will spare no expense to preserve the status quo…and will throw both caution and morality out the window..to crush what opposes it. These actions brought down on even peaceful “non-violent” activists The full wrath of American Law enforcement. Well over a hundred people were killed who had NOTHING to do with any police ambush action..No little brigade of nuts who hate cops and start shooting them, ambushing them will succeed at changing the behavior of what we used to call the “Occupation army” of the oppressor…Okay that’s just one small part of what needs to be said before the idea to some how to retaliate against the police takes hold of some poor soul…it’s a road we have traveled down before…and I remember the consequences too well. There is more to say about the events of the last few days …For instance what’s broken with our police force and how or can we fix it…That’s tomorrow
I don’t remember the date, it was in September of 1970, I knew I was hungry, as I had almost nothing to eat the day before. Not an unusual thing in those days when I was full time in the Black Panther Party. On the streets of Atlanta Georgia, I had decided to go to Chestnut and Fair Street, in the center of the Black College complex. Clark College on one corner Spelman College a block away Morehouse College where I was technically still a student on the opposite corner. I was standing there trying to sell Black Panther News Papers. If I sold enough to cover the cost of food for the Free breakfast program I would be able to keep what ever was left for myself. I was busy trying to sell a paper to a really pretty Clark College girl and didn’t notice until I turned around that there was this really tall guy standing right next to me. After I sold a paper to a passing car I noticed the look on the face of the buyer when he looked at the tall guy. I stepped back on the sidewalk and looked up and sure enough it was Muhammad Ali. It was him who struck up a conversation. He said how he respected the BPP and the work we did and was sorry that he had not done more to donate money to our community programs. I told him that we all knew what he was going through, and that to us he was always the “People”s Champion” we went into a lot of subjects Like Abdul Nassar who had just died and how the new Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was a real Egyptian …a Black man and not an Arab. I told him that it meant a lot to many of us that he had taken this stance on the war.Ali kept saying that he had not planned any of this…he just had to do what he thought was the right thing…”suppose ” he said ..”when they grow up …my kids ask me what did I do about this” …”I don’t want to have to say I did nothing ” simple words …but I knew exactly what he meant….You have to understand that during the time Ali had been suspended from boxing the number of Black as well as non-Black men drafted to go and fight that war had grown enormously This was over forty five years ago so a lot of the words have faded away. But what got me was after about ten minutes somebody across the street said “HEY LOOK ….IT’S ALI “..all of a sudden his voice changed, his posture changed, he began to speak more in a “ghetto dialect” and got really loud.It was like a switch was thrown and he turned on his other persona….I think in that moment I learned more about him that in any of his interviews ….he knew who he was, he knew what he was. I knew in that one second that Ali was not being manipulated by Malcolm or Elijah Muhammad. Within seconds there were dozens of people ….trying to get close to Ali. I noticed that a bright yellow limo drove up..Ali pushed through the crowd ..gave me a ten dollar bill..I gave him the Black Panther newspaper, he got in the car and was gone. I found out a few minutes later that Ali had been using the gym at Morehouse College to train for his up coming comeback fight..against Jerry Quarry…it was an easy win about a month later. A lot of things happened to me during those Black Panther years but this day is one memory that I treasure…To guys in my generation maybe Stokely may have made Black what we called ourselves..but it was Ali who maybe not alone but in terms of the loudest voice, taught us how to BE Black men and women…real Black men and women…We were under no obligation to aide America in it’s imperialism …and it fact had more in common with the people America wanted us to kill…The most powerful words spoken by a Black American ..ever, were “NO VIET CONG EVER CALLED ME NIGGER” This took what we were still calling a “civil rights” movement and turned it into something much bigger. That’s what Malcolm died trying to do…it’s what MLK came to embrace at the end of his life…and despite all the money and being the “worlds most famous person” This is and will be what made Muhammad Ali….”The Greatest”…don’t have to tell Ali to “rest in power”…..we know he is.