Archives

Tagged ‘Ella Baker‘

Ella Baker and the Limits of Charismatic Masculinity

In memory and admiration of Ella Baker who was born on 13th December 1903 and died on 13th December 1986.

“During these hectic times while we are fighting for human dignity, and many times for survival, one forgets the contribution made by women.” ~Ella Baker

 

“You didn’t see me on television, you didn’t see news stories about me. The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders.” ~Ella Baker

Black Agenda Report

Pascal Robert

February 19, 2013

 

2013-02-19-EllaBaker.jpg

In perhaps one of the most important biographies of a civil rights leader published, Professor Barbara Ransby has conveyed the epic life and struggle of a woman whose sheer skill, leadership, and ability to mobilize the marginalized and dispossessed to full participation in their fight for human dignity is almost unprecedented in American history. In her book, Ella Baker & The Black Freedom Movement, Professor Ransby documents the life of Ella Baker, a black woman born to a middle-class family in North Carolina in 1903 who, after witnessing the staunch spiritually based dedication of her mother to serving the poor in the South, transforms into a sheer force of will that worked with all the major civil rights organizations of her time, and helped mobilize to create two of the most crucial to the Civil Rights Movement: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Before we continue to heap a single praise or Hosanna to men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Wyatt T. Walker, Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, Paul Robeson, Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. Du Bois, or any of these other gentlemen we idolize as embodiments of masculine heroism, we should know about one woman, of many, who had more wisdom, courage, and vision then almost all of them: Ms. Ella Baker.

What made Baker’s method of organizing both effective and revolutionary is that it completely dismissed the traditional paradigm of leadership that had plagued the black community from its earliest history in North America, stemming mostly from the black church: Charismatic masculine leadership based on oratory and exhibitionism. Baker believed in empowering the most common person, whether a sharecropper, teenager, or illiterate vagrant with skills to make demands on the political establishment. Baker believed that people did not need fancy leaders with degrees and pedigree to tell them what was best for them. She believed in giving people the power to choose their direction and make demands, and put pressure on institutions without depending on big shots with fancy suits. In her book, Professor Ransby notes:

“At every opportunity [Ella] Baker reiterated the radical idea that educated elites were not the natural leaders of Black people. Critically reflecting on her work with the NAACP, she observed, “The Leadership was all from the professional class, basically. I think these are the factors that have kept it [the NAACP] from moving to a more militant position.”

Moreover, Ella Baker was very critical of the hotshot black preachers who seemed to mesmerize their audiences with soaring oratory, then leave and expect others to implement an agenda. As Ransby further notes, at one point Ella Baker asked Dr. King directly “why he allowed such hero worship, and he responded simply, that it was what people wanted. This answer did not satisfy Baker in the least.”

Ella Baker did not mince words on her thoughts of Dr. King’s leadership style and vocally spoke out on its limitations:

“Baker described [Dr. King] as a pampered member of Atlanta’s black elite who had the mantle of leadership handed to him rather than having had to earn it, a member of a coddled “silver spoon brigade.” He wore silk suits and spoke with a silver tongue.

 

[…] In Baker’s eyes King did not identify enough with the people he sought to lead. He did not situate himself among them but remained above them.

 

[…]Baker felt the focus on King drained the masses of confidence in themselves. People often marveled at the things King could do that they could not; his eloquent speeches overwhelmed as well as inspired.”

The limitations of this charismatic masculinity noted by Ella Baker are profound, particularly in today’s political age when we have a president like Barack Obama who often tries to channel the traditions of charismatic leadership and oratory from the black tradition. Ironically, Obama has been as anemic in delivering real change and effective at stifling progress as Ella Baker worried Dr. King would have been. So perhaps in a strange twist, we have found a similarity between King and Obama after all.

Often in America, when discussing prominent black trailblazers who fought the injustices of segregation and racial oppression, we see the same images of a variety of men. I somewhat jokingly call them our superhero black male icons. This phenomenon mimics the more noxious western patriarchal fascination with viewing history as a series of events being shaped and guided by the hands of a strong capable man embodying all our fantasies about leadership, masculinity and sometimes fatherhood.

The danger of such imagery is that it often both obscures and denies the scope of nuanced factors, issues, and circumstances in shaping the events from which our societies were born. Furthermore, such narratives often exclude any consideration of female agency in effecting the great events that have transpired over time.

Barbara Ransby should be applauded for putting a halt to this tradition and setting the record straight with her towering biography Ella Baker & The Black Freedom Movement. As a man still troubled with patriarchal sexist notions, this book opened my eyes to ways in which the role of women are often neglected and intentionally obscured. Let us all read the story of Ella Baker and make sure such injustices do not continue.

Beyond MLK

The New Inquiry

January 20, 2015

By Lorenzo Raymond

memorialMLK

“Basically your ministers are not people who go in for decisions on the part of people, I don’t know whether you realize it or not…they had been looked upon as saviors.” – Ella Baker

“King was assigned to us by the white power structure, and we took him.” – John Alfred Willams

LBJ and the repressionThe legend of Martin Luther King Jr. looms larger than usual this winter, even though it’s every January that we celebrate his birthday. One reason, obviously, is that there‘s a new Hollywood film out about him, which, while snubbed by the Oscars, has been embraced at the White House. The other reason is that the wave of black resistance sweeping the country today is often characterized as “a new civil rights movement,” and King—we are told—was the supreme leader of the civil rights movement.

However unfair the Oscar snub (whatever its faults, the film is a hell of a lot better, both historically and cinematically, than American Sniper) the most interesting argument so far about Ava DuVernay’s Selma remains the controversy over the relationship between King and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Former LBJ advisor Joseph Califano has publicly argued that King and Johnson were not at odds during the Selma campaign as the movie depicts, but that the African-American leader followed Johnson’s encouragement to nonviolently dramatize the obstacles that blacks had to voting in the South. The filmmaker shot back that this was “offensive to SNCC, SCLC and black citizens who made it so.” (the acronyms refer to civil rights organizations the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, respectively). But Califano’s assertion has gained traction because there‘s more than a grain of truth in it.

“King: And it’s very interesting, Mr. President, to notice that the only states that you didn’t carry in the South, the five Southern states, have less than 40 percent of the Negroes registered to vote. It’s very interesting to notice. And I think a professor at the University of Texas, in a recent article, brought this out very clearly. So it demonstrates that it’s so important to get Negroes registered to vote in large numbers in the South.” – Johnson Conversation with Martin Luther King on Jan 15, 1965, tape WH6501.04DuVernay distorts the record here in order to avoid one of the great problems of Martin Luther King’s career: his compromised position in relation to the white power structure. Califano may have jumped the shark when he wrote that “Selma was LBJ’s idea” but he hinted at a deeper truth—that the whole idea of Martin Luther King as “the Moses of his people” was largely established and maintained by members of the white elite. In January 1957, when King had only been an activist for a year and a half, he was contacted by Clare Booth Luce, conservative mogul of the Time-Life empire, and offered a cover story. According to King biographer Taylor Branch, Luce rescued King from a state of “helplessness”. In the aftermath of the famous bus boycott and its apparent victory, the City of Montgomery had shut down all bus lines after the Ku Klux Klan began shooting at black passengers, and commenced to enact a whole new wave of segregation laws—an early manifestation of the Dixiecrats’ “Massive Resistance” campaign which blocked King’s nonviolent movement throughout the late fifties. Luce, who was also US Ambassador to Italy, was explicit that she wanted to show off King to a skeptical global public who doubted that there was hope for racial equality in America. The Time article, meanwhile, was explicit that what it liked most about King was his pacifism and moderation; The reverend was “no radical,” they gushed: “he avoids the excesses of radicalism.” MLK’s first visit to the White House took place later that year. In its aftermath, King’s host, Vice-President Richard Nixon, approvingly told President Eisenhower that Dr. King was “not a man who believes in violent and retaliatory pro-Negro actions.” As King’s friend, the black journalist Louis Lomax once acknowledged, “certain white men and events would make the choice for King to become as famous as he did.”

Nelson Rockefeller’s support for MLK, Rockefeller’s work with Kissinger and the Missile Gap. See alsoThe American Right has become notorious in recent years for mythologizing King as a one-dimensional conservative. But it won’t do for the Left to offer up their own whitewash, painting him as a lifelong opponent of the ruling class when he was anything but. Before the fifties were over, Nelson Rockefeller emerged as one of MLK’s primary sponsors. Rockefeller is often depicted as a progressive, but his major project of the time was escalating the Cold War by promoting the fiction of a “missile gap” between the US and the Soviet Union. His principle agent for spreading this hysteria was a Harvard political scientist named Henry Kissinger. Nelson Rockefeller’s support for MLK, Rockefeller’s work with Kissinger and the Missile Gap. See also It tells us a great deal about the hegemony of elite money over both the respectable Left and the respectable Right that Dr. King and Dr. Kissinger had the same benefactor. As Timothy Tyson demonstrated in his classic book Radio Free Dixie, Rockefeller and King worked in concert to suppress the radical but popular North Carolina leader Robert F. Williams, who advocated for armed self-defense against the KKK. King once claimed that Governor Rockefeller had ‘‘a real grasp and understanding of what the Negro revolution is all about, and a commitment to its goals,’’ but given that Rockefeller would go on to order the worst state massacre of African-Americans in US history at Attica (“a beautiful operation” Rockefeller told Richard Nixon later), and to create some of the most racist drug laws in the country, this was not one of King’s wiser political insights.

Clayborne Carson on MLK’s reluctance toward civil disobedience.The truth is that King’s turn to radicalism was hard won. “In some ways,” Michael Eric Dyson has written, “King’s change was even more startling and consequential than Malcolm X’s…what is little appreciated is how…an element of Malcolm’s thinking got its hooks into King.” Pre-1965, King was a public supporter of US foreign policy and capitalism who preferred to rely on traditional political maneuvers, even as he supposedly represented a movement built on direct action (King scholar Clayborne Carson notes that the reverend did not initiate the bus boycott, the sit-ins, or the Freedom Rides, and only participated in them reluctantly). Clayborne Carson on MLK’s reluctance toward civil disobedience Post-1965, King gradually evolved into a relentless public opponent of American imperialism and avarice who was prepared to personally defy federal injunctions.

“…his antiwar activity was motivated as much by moral and political pressure from key black colleagues as by conscience and commitment to nonviolence…” -Michael Eric Dyson, I May Not Get There With You, p.51-56How did this come about? Principally through the pressure put on King by militant activists associated with SNCC. When SNCC demanded an unconditional withdrawal from Vietnam in January 1966, King suggested a conditional ceasefire—but came around to SNCC’s position a few months later. When SNCC began calling for the election of black officials who were independent of the Democratic Party, King called for the election of more blacks within the Party—but the following year considered an independent campaign himself. “…his antiwar activity was motivated as much by moral and political pressure from key black colleagues as by conscience and commitment to nonviolence…” -Michael Eric Dyson, I May Not Get There With You, p.51-56 When SNCC declared the ghettos were internal colonies that should be granted community control, King rejected this and began campaigning for open housing in white neighborhoods to thin out the ghetto—but then came around to publicly considering “[self-] segregation as a temporary way-station to a truly integrated society.”

LBJ conversation with King, August 20, 1965, Tape WH6508.07Leftists often laud King this time of year for his anti-imperialist statements, epitomized in the classic 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam”. But a conversation with LBJ illustrates King’s agonizing reluctance on this cause prior to SNCC’s pressure. By 1965, two American pacifists, Alice Herz and Norman Morrison, had already perished setting themselves on fire to protest the war, yet King’s criticism of US aggression in Vietnam remained, in Michael Dyson’s words “a modest proposal” for negotiated settlement. Talking privately with Johnson, King seemed apologetic even for that. In an August 1965 phone call, LBJ pleads the victim (“…if they’ll quit tearing up our roads and our highways and quit taking over our camps and bombing our planes and destroying them, well, we’ll quit the next day…”) and then the Domino Theory (“If I pulled out… I think that we’d immediately trigger a situation in Thailand that would be just as bad as it is in Vietnam. I think we’d be right back to the Philippines with problems. I think the Germans would be scared to death…”) King responds with praise for “the breadth of your concern” in Vietnam which “represents true leadership and true greatness.”LBJ conversation with King, August 20, 1965, Tape WH6508.07 Lobbying is a dirty job. Dyson notes that this “vicious double-bind effectively silenced King’s opposition to the war” during its first wave of escalation.

Ultimately, King embodied a kind of neutral zone that the power structure and the radical grassroots kept trying to push toward their respective goalposts. He once acknowledged that “I have to be militant enough to satisfy the militant, yet I have to keep enough discipline in the movement to satisfy white supporters,” and even admitted at the end of his life that the entire “black church has often been a tail-light rather than a headlight” in the movement. Selma builds up MLK as a decisive leader and strategist, but he was more often a follower and a figurehead.

Although DuVernay claims to defend the honor of the SNCC militants, it is she who paints an offensive portrait of them. When SNCC leader James Forman criticizes King’s media grandstanding and dependence on whites in the film, it’s portrayed as the competitive chest-thumping of a bitter young upstart . Yet in reality, the first person to raise this critique wasn’t some insecure man-child, but an experienced black woman who’d been organizing her people since King was in diapers. Ella Baker was a veteran NAACP organizer who mentored Rosa Parks, and went on to work under MLK in the late fifties. She found him to be an out-of-touch narcissist who was more interested in promoting his book than promoting voter registration. When she left to help found SNCC in 1960, she warned the students about the phenomenon of the “charismatic leader…It usually means the media made him, and the media may undo him…such a person gets to the point of believing that he is the movement.” Militant deviation from King also arose from SNCC leader Gloria Richardson, another mature woman with a grassroots constituency. King originally refused to aid her working-class chapter in Cambridge, Maryland unless he was paid $3000 for speaking, but later invited himself to town after rioting broke out in 1963. Richardson told him that her campaign was going fine (it turned out to be one of the most successful of the period) and that him and his aristocratic style were obsolete in Cambridge.

In 1966 Alabama elections, John Lewis did not support the independent primary of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization with the rest of SNCC, instead joining King in campaigning for Democrat candidate Richmond Flowers. He also refused to join the SNCC boycott of meetings with LBJ. Both were major factors in his being deposed from his Chair. (Branch, At Canaan’s Edge, 460-467)That isn’t to say that men like James Forman were never incendiary, just that they were fired-up with a purpose. After King made a secret agreement with the White House on March 9 to halt the second Selma march (which the foremost historian of the campaign, Gary May, calls “King’s lowest moment as a leader”) Forman led students in a uncompromising sister campaign at Montgomery that broke away from nonviolence, and declared that “If we can’t sit at the table of democracy, we’ll knock the fucking legs off!” This was a risky move given that black riots had swept the Northeast the previous summer, and an armed civil rights militia, the Deacons for Defense and Justice, was beginning to sweep the South. But it was only at this point that Lyndon Johnson introduced the voting rights bill to Congress and sent federal troops to Alabama to intervene between police and protesters. Needless to say, King’s backroom deal and Forman’s bold leadership aren’t included in the movie. (Another SNCC leader, John Lewis, is depicted favorably in the film, but only because he’s a loyalist to King and LBJ. In 1966, he would lose his chair in SNCC due to his devotion to the Democratic Party, a loyalty which has since served him well in his 30 year Congressional career.) In 1966 Alabama elections, John Lewis did not support the independent primary of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization with the rest of SNCC, instead joining King in campaigning for Democrat candidate Richmond Flowers. He also refused to join the SNCC boycott of meetings with LBJ. Both were major factors in his being deposed from his Chair. (Branch, At Canaan’s Edge, 460-467)

These historical distortions aren’t just academic: they affect how we view militancy and moderation today. If activists and supporters aren’t aware of the contribution that rowdy non-nonviolent marches made to the campaign, they might instead chalk it up to King’s horse-trading, and thus submit to elite calls for tighter leadership and a cooling-off period—a course that would undermine the crucial momentum of the movement. (Selma producer Oprah Winfrey has said it’s precisely her intention to divert protesters into King’s “strategic” model.) If they come to associate the archetype of the well-funded, well-connected leader with strategic wisdom, they may find themselves embracing the next faux messianic figure who emerges to channel revolutionary energies into reformism, despite the fact that decades of liberal church leadership have brought real losses to the black community, including rollback of the Voting Rights Act.

Claims that Selma’s success somehow breaks the mold of Hollywood depictions of black struggle are dubious at best. That the filmmakers are women of color doesn’t change the fact that the film is fundamentally a King biopic that entrenches the Great Man theory of history. Meanwhile, commenters have noted that the most memorable sequences of the film feature white racists brutalizing helpless black bodies. “History as a horror movie” wrote The Washington Post approvingly, going on to compare the film to 12 Years a Slave. As Azealia Banks said in her trenchant, courageous interview about racism last month, “It’s really upsetting…that they’re still making movies like 12 Years a Slave. I don’t want to see no more fucking white people whipping black people in movies.”

The post-Ferguson movement is making 21st century history with its overall refusal of accommodation and martyrdom. Yet the historical narrative Selma reproduces threatens to paper over the necessary divisions among today’s protesters with a romanticized view of a “black united front” that never quite was. Lecturing the young militants, one liberal leader recently claimed that for all their “different ideas,” King and SNCC ultimately “came together to dialogue.” She doesn’t mention that this dialogue usually began with the moderate leader apologizing for “the betrayal of my own silences” (to use King’s words in “Beyond Vietnam”). Al Sharpton has been called out by activists repeatedly for his riot-shaming and victim-blaming, yet rather than apologizing, the great patriarch has tried to bad-jacket them as “provocateurs.” But the street kids made this movement. If any false messiah tries to push them away from the table, they should borrow a page from SNCC, and knock the fucking legs off.

 

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City.]

‘Organization is the Weapon of the Oppressed’

Ferguson, Mobilization and Organizing the Resistance

Pambazuka

by Ajamu Nangwaya

September 9, 2014

SC

It is impossible to fight capitalist exploitation, police violence, the oppression of women, white supremacy, homophobia and other forms of dehumanization outside of collective action and organised structures – organisations and movements. We must organise – not just mobilise [cc YAE]

“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.” – Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

 

The rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri, against the killing of unarmed Afrikan American teenager Michael Brown has inspired me to reflect on the question of the organizing model versus mobilizing or mobilization model in the struggle for Afrikan liberation in North America as well as the broader humanistic fight for liberation from various forms of oppression. Organizing the oppressed for emancipation is the preferred approach to engaging them in the fight for their liberation as opposed to merely mobilizing them.

The rapid demise of the Occupy Movement and the scattering of the occupiers should be an objective lesson on the need for freedom seekers to become organizationally affiliated. Where are the tens of thousands of people who participated in the occupations in Canada and the United States? If I had to hazard a guess, I would argue that most of them are not in organizations that are committed to liquidating the various systems of oppression. They have gone back to doing the mundane activities of life that are not connected to movement-building. Essentially, they have been demobilized!

When I raised the issue of organizing the oppressed, this project is centrally focused on building the capacity of the people to become central actors on the stage of history or in the drama of emancipation. The socially marginalized are placed in organizational situations where they are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitude to work for their own freedom and the construction of a transformed social reality.

Under the organizing model the people are the principal participants and decision-makers in the organizations and movements that are working for social change. The people are not seen as entities who are so ideologically underdeveloped that they need a revolutionary vanguard or dictatorship to lead them to the “New Jerusalem.” The supreme organizer and humanist Ella Baker took the position that the masses will figure out the path to freedom in her popular assertion, “Give people light and they will find a way.”

This work of finding ‘a way’ is done in grassroots, participatory-democratic organizations, which are the principal instruments of self-determination for the oppressed. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a student-based civil rights group during the struggle against apartheid in the America South of the 1960s, employed the organizing model. SNCC focused on building local organizations with indigenous leadership that effected the struggle for freedom by, for, and of the people affected by white supremacy and capitalist exploitation.

These student organizers lived among the people and, in effect, committed ‘class suicide’ by their existential unity with the people, as called for by the revolutionary Amilcar Cabral. They weren’t like Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other major civil rights organizations and their leaders who entered a local community for a march or demonstration with the media in tow. At the end of the event, they would leave town with a demobilized population behind them. This is the mobilization model that shall be marked as “Exhibit A.”

The mobilizing or mobilization model of struggle seeks to bring the people out to support political actions that are conceived, planned, and executed by organizational or movement elite. The people are, essentially, extras in the drama of liberation with the leaders as the featured actors. The rank and file members or participants are without substantive voice and initiative. In the mainline trade unions of today as well as in much of the activities of other social movements, mobilization is the weapon of choice.

Included in the mobilization model is the spontaneous reaction of the oppressed to acts of state domination or violence from dominant social actors. For example, in some cases of police violence against Afrikans in Canada and the United States, the community is mobilized to march or demonstrate in protest against the incidents of injustice. There will even be the occasional rebellions or uprisings. But the passion for justice will predictably disappear in short order. The people’s attention will be distracted by routine, everyday activities until the next killing or episode of police brutality.

When organizations and movements favour mobilization, it is all about bringing the rank and file out to mass actions (the spectacles of resistance) such as rallies, demonstrations, pickets, strikes, and voter registration drives. At the end of the event, the masses are sent back home to assume their stance as passive spectators in this elite management approach to liberation. The people’s will is represented by the leaders, because participatory democratic practices are not on the organizational menu.

If the people’s bodies are needed, they will be summoned for the next action. The critical knowledge, skills and attitude that are used to effect resistance reside largely within the leadership. Even when the people are members of organizations, it is usually the elected leadership and a few people around it, and the paid staffers who do the bulk of the strategic and operational activities. They are the brain trust of the movement.

In the 1988 summer issue of the publication Breakthrough: Political Journal of Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, the late Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael), who served a term as chairperson of SNCC and a stint as Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party, had this to say about organizing and mobilization:

“There’s a difference between mobilization and organization and this difference must be properly understood. To be an organizer, one must be a mobilizer, but being a mobilizer doesn’t make you an organizer. Martin Luther King was one of the greatest mobilizers this century has seen, but until his death he was short on organizing. He came to double up on it just before his death, but he was very short on organizing. Many today who follow in his footsteps still take this path of mobilization rather than organization. Thus one of the errors of the 60s was the question of mobilization versus the question of organization.”

Invariably the mobilizing or mobilization model comes with the reliance on a supreme leader or a few individuals at the top of the organizational or movement leadership food chain. Ella Baker cautioned us about the will toward the preceding state of affairs:

“I have always felt it was a handicap for oppressed peoples to depend so largely upon a leader, because unfortunately in our culture, the charismatic leader usually becomes a leader because he has found a spot in the public limelight….”

The oppressed and movement organizations cannot keep on executing the same shopworn tactics, while expecting different outcomes.

Many organizations or people are using vigils, marches, rallies and demonstrations as spaces for emotional release. Emotional responses to material forces of oppression are insufficient for the job at hand. We must employ reason and emotion in a methodical, disciplined and planned manner that is backed by a vision in an organizational or social movement context.

We need to create or join organizations that are committed to fighting the systems of oppression that are materially impacting our lives. It is impossible to fight capitalist exploitation, police violence, the oppression of women, white supremacy, homophobia and other forms of dehumanization outside of collective action and organized structures – organizations and movements.

The exploitative systems of domination are structured and institutionalized. The masters or exploiters are very much aware of the value of organizations in maintaining the status quo. The oppressors’ army, police force, state bureaucracy, schools, media, companies, banks and prisons are organizations that are used to keep us in our place as Fanon’s “wretched of the earth” or “the damned.”

Kwame Ture often made the following claim in his public education lectures, “Organization is the weapon of the oppressed. Afrikans are oppressed, because we are disorganized!” Our revolutionary ancestor’s assertion ought to be seen as a self-evident truth.

Let’s use this moment of grief and resistance in Ferguson to build radical or revolutionary organizations that will organize with the people around all of the issues raised below by comrade El Jones, a poet, organizer and educator, in a Facebook status:

“We will be gathering to show solidarity for Mike Brown’s family and the citizens of Ferguson, and to stand against state violence against our communities and people. Stay tuned for details, date and time. We must come together to support each other and our communities against the dehumanization of Black people and the devaluing of our lives. We must stand against the criminalization of our youth, and for our right to exist, to walk on the street, to have futures, to live freely. We must stand against the occupying of our communities, the loss of opportunity, the marginalization and poverty and lack of access that condemn so many to prison, and the suffering of families and communities in a system that does not value Black life. We must organize ourselves in strength, love and solidarity, fight to build strong communities and futures, to support parents, and to protect our children.”

If we are not ready to be in organizations, we are just playing with ourselves (certainly a pleasurable act in the right context). However, in the situation of the quest for freedom and self-determination, self-interested pleasure, acts of petty bourgeois self-indulgence, and splendid isolation are liabilities.

The message within this Ethiopian proverb is timeless and accurate, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” Let our action speaks louder than words in the call of the disenfranchised for unity, cooperation, and self-determination. Our solidarity in action will emerge from us getting together in groups with a program of liberation.

Young people tend to be at the forefront of rebellions or uprisings. as we are witnessing in Ferguson, or we have observed in the recent mass protest in Egypt that brought down the Hosni Mubarak-led government. However, young people tend to be marginalized in the strategic leadership in organizations and social movements. It is critically important to systemically prepare younger comrades for the role of agents of revolutionary transformation in society.

Afrikan young people will need to become more than the spark and driving force behind spontaneous and short-lived rebellions. They ought to become permanent organizers among the working-class, women and the racially oppressed so as to advance the social revolution. If the youth and the other alienated people of Ferguson and other cities and towns are committed to changing the status quo, they will need to form or join radical organizations and fully adopt the organizing model of resistance.

Afrikan youth in the United States can draw on the legacy of young people-led organizations such as SNCC and the Black Panther Party, if they believe it is best to create their own autonomous revolutionary organizations. The widespread existence of sellout or compromised leadership among the older established leaders might make independent youth-led organizations a compelling option. The youth-led rebellion in Ferguson is not taking direction from the traditional civic leaders who are not seen as legitimate.

It is high time for the resistance to build effective and efficient organizations that are rooted in the needs and aspirations of the oppressed. Organizers ought to learn from the organizational or movement successes and mistakes of the past and the present in doing the monumental work of movement-building and creating the embryonic economic, political and social structures of the free, good, and just society (classless, stateless and self-managed). A prefigurative politics or building the road as we travel needs to be at the centre of social movement organizing in the 21st century.

[Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an educator and a journalistic activist. He is an organizer with the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence and the Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity.]

On the Eve of an Illegal Attack on Syria, Avaaz/350.org Board Members Beat the Drums of War

“Here’s the awful truth: even if every person, every automobile, and every factory suddenly emitted zero emissions, the earth would still be headed, head first and at full speed, toward total disaster for one major reason. The military produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all its inhabitants large and small, in the most imminent danger of extinction.” — Barry Sanders, The Green Zone

Today’s commentary by Cory Morningstar, WKOG Collective

August 30, 2012

AVAAZ3

Appalling.

350.org’s Van Jones (U.S. Advisory Council Board member and NRDC trustee), is calling for airstrikes on Syria. [CNN Video below.]

From the 350.org website:

“Van Jones is a globally recognized, award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean-energy economy. He is a co-founder of three successful non-profit organizations: The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change and Green For All. Jones is the best-selling author of the definitive book on green jobs, The Green-Collar Economy. He served as the green jobs advisor in the Obama White House in 2009. Jones is currently the President of Rebuild the Dream.” [Emphasis added.]

Never has the legacy of Ella Baker been so disgraced. Ella, today, spinning in her grave, once conveyed to the world:

“Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.”

Ella would surely spit on Van Jones if she were alive today.

350.org’s Ricken Patel (350.org International Advisory Council member – and Avaaz founder) is also pounding the drums of  war. Just 4 days ago, on August 22, 2013, Patel himself urged Avaaz supporters to demand world leaders “place a no-fly zone over Syria.” Those who comprise Avaaz are already up to their necks – in the blood of the Libyan people who they helped annihilate. [Further reading: Did Libya’s Citizens Demand Foreign Intervention? A ridiculous question, yet according to Avaaz, the answer is yes.]

The following link is Google’s cache of the Avaaz/Patel campaign to demand a no fly zone (https://secure.avaaz.org/en/syria_no_fly_zone/). It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 22 Aug 2013 18:08:13 GMT: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:vzBe8PMa7H8J:https://secure.avaaz.org/en/syria_no_fly_zone/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca&client=firefox-a

Screenshots of Patel’s email:

AVAAZ1

AVAAZ2

Of course, organizations such as Avaaz and 350.org/1Sky, are created and financed by the very fraudsters that the World Bank whistleblower, Karen Hudes, warns us about. [WORLD BANK WHISTLEBLOWER ON SYRIA [THE IRAN, IRAQ, SYRIA PIPELINE PROJECT]

The notorious war criminal, George Bush, first used the term “axis of evil” in his State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002. He repeated the term throughout his presidency, to describe the governments that he accused of helping “terrorism” and seeking “weapons of mass destruction”. Media perpetually echoed the message until it sunk into the American psyche. Iran, Iraq and North Korea were the key “Axis of Evil” countries targeted for demonization.

Perhaps forgotten is that the “Beyond the Axis of Evil” countries included Cuba, Libya, & Syria.

The demonization of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, (distinguished guest of U.S. Colombia University, 2006) was never so skillfully orchestrated.

The public lapped it up.

Over a million dead and counting.

Today, “The Axis of Evil” psyops (still drilled into the Euro-American psyche) has been coupled, if not superseded, with the manufacturing of fear. Add to this orchestrated fear, the “Humanitarian Intervention” and “Responsibility to Protect” doctrines. The crème de le crème of imperial rhetoric. Such doctrines, created by American “think-tanks”, for the elite, by the elite, are of critical use for a declining and morally bankrupt empire. An empire that brilliantly attempts to convince and portray, utilizing the language within these doctrines, that the atrocities they manufacture, call for, and carry out, are somehow honourable and admirable – as opposed to what they actually are: crimes against humanity. Orwell would have called this psychopathic persistence a stunning feat in doublespeak.

Many so-called civil society organizations/NGOs have been instrumental in making these doctrines palatable to the public.

The empire really needs you to believe.

Don’t.

Above: The video that Avaaz et al did not want you to see. “That a million Libyans came out and filled Green Square, under the threat of NATO bombing, to show their support for Muammar al-Gaddafi was easily overlooked. A seduced person, a person who is loving the thrill of being seduced, no longer has any use for truth or facts.” [The “Arab Spring” and the Seduction of the Western Left]

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]

 

Further Reading on 350.org:

Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion

Why I Refuse to Promote Bill McKibben

The Climate Cartel: 1Sky, 350.org and Rockefeller Brothers | Stronger as One

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement | Part I

Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”

Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement

When Will Environmentalists Ever Wake Up? The Great Pipeline Scam

Keystone XL | The Ivory Towers Crushing the Last Remnants of Climate Justice

SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not

The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide

Designer Protests and Vanity Arrests in DC

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part II

Working for Warren: Corporate Greens

Further Reading on Avaaz:

The Grotesque and Disturbing Ideology at the Helm of Avaaz

SPEAKING TRUTH: A Profound Message to Avaaz from Poet Gabriel Impaglione of Argentina

Argentine Journalist Stella Calloni Denounces Avaaz | Latin American Unions Follow Her Lead

Avaaz: Empire Propaganda Mill Masquerading as Grassroots Activism

Rio Summit “Good Versus Evil” Advert Displays Blatant Racism and Imperialism at Core of Avaaz

Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section I

Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section II

Through the Looking Glass

Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section III

Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I

Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II

Stella Calloni: Disinformation Against Syria is Criminal

It’s a White Man’s World – Your Exclusive Daily Dose of Reality. Raw. Unedited. Uncomfortable.

Wrong Kind of Green Collective

August 26, 2013

by Forrest Palmer

ella-baker1

Thought of the evening:

In commemorating the love fest for the “angelic” MLK Jr. and the March on Washington, I am going to focus on one of the greatest ladies who in my estimation was BETTER than King and much more IMPORTANT in her message and place in history: Ella Baker…There was no better grass roots organizer who worked mainly behind the scenes in the 20th century than this lady……due to her somewhat open aggression towards the Southern Christian Leadership Council, she was disallowed from speaking at the March on Washington, which was a slap in the face since her history in HUMAN rights movements had preceded King by almost 20 years…SHE deserved to speak BEFORE him since her sacrifices and work PRECEDED and SURPASSED HIS…in fact, there were NO WOMEN who were scheduled to speak on that day and it took a protest to finally get three on the dais…As much as we look at King in such reverential terms today, he was human and had flaws like we all do and I think that this god like presence that overshadows EVERYTHING in the black community is DETRIMENTAL since it relegates what is right or wrong to what ONE MAN would have thought on whatever subject even if he had no KNOWLEDGE on the topic…In all honesty, I don’t think that Baker would have been pleased with this statue being placed at the National Mall for King…judging by her past, she would have wanted it to be a monument to ALL the women and men who gave just as much and some even MORE to the movement…