Neither Hurricane Sandy nor the cold could stop
the advance of the Black is Back March and Conference!
The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations (BIBC) held a rally, march and conference to “Break the Silence on the Unreported Wars and Attacks on Africans Worldwide” on November 3-4, 2012 in Washington, D.C. This mobilization was a statement to the world, to our people and to our communities that Black is Back! We have reentered political life as an independent force with our own agenda for self-determination in solidarity with the struggling peoples of the world. Individuals and organizations in the Black is Back Coalition agree upon principles of anti-imperialism and stand in solidarity with the anti-imperialist resistance occurring all over the world. Members agree upon goals of self-determination and reparations for African and oppressed peoples around the world.
Rally at Malcolm X Park
Princess Williams opened the rally with a cultural performance. Diop Olugbala, President of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement called the U.S. government the real terrorists, and called for African people to have self-government in a rap song near the beginning of the rally in Malcolm X Park. Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the Black is Back Coalition, pierced the silence with a strong call for Black Power. Chairman Yeshitela said that there must be principle around what we are organizing. He said that we want revolution and for our people to be free and to end the suffering. Yeshitela also called the U.S. the biggest enemy to the people of the Earth, and that “This is our time, we have a responsibility to overturn this system!” Freedom Koofshaw of the DC Troy Davis Alliance stated his support and told of their organizing work to gain clemency for Troy Davis. Davis was an African man on death row for more than 20 years, was framed up and convicted in the 1989 death of a white policeman, then executed/murdered by the state of Georgia in 2011. Solomon Commissiong of Your World News.com criticized the white and black liberal media for banging the war drums to bomb Libya, and remaining silent on the terrors facing African people under U.S. colonial rule. Melanated Music by artist Troop performed songs and provided inspiration for the crowd. Chokwe Lumumba, former attorney for Black Liberation Army member, Assata Shakur and current candidate for mayor of Jackson, Mississippi spoke next. He showed solidarity with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Lumumba said that we must separate the Civil Rights Movement from the Human Rights Movement. “We are not just talking about sitting at a lunch counter that we don’t own, paying someone that doesn’t want us to be there, or sitting next to someone in the bathroom who doesn’t want us sitting next to them. Or forcing our way into a college, which was built off our backs, and at the same time they excluded us from it. “We have to show them that we are the answers. You see how they do in the Palestinian territories. They not only offer their words, but they offer their deeds.” “We know that land and power solves poverty and oppression,” said Lumumba.
Marching, chanting down the streets of DC
The march then proceeded through the DC area down Euclid Street, U Street, Georgia Avenue and 14th streets. The route of the march went through African neighborhoods and past the front gates of Howard University. All along the way, Africans raised their fist in solidarity and received flyers about the Black Is Back Coalition. The march broke the silence, shouting “Obama / Uncle Sam, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!”
Organizing conference develops coalition and informs participants
Day two featured a conference which furthered the goal of organizing the Coalition and clarifying the conditions of the world in which we live. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report opened with a presentation on the state of the world, imperialism and the global struggle to break the silence. He explained how Western imperialism “tries to run the game or wreck the game.” “Finance capital only bets on things. The military is there to put some weight on their side of the dice.” Chairman Omali Yeshitela commented on how Ford’s presentation was scientific. “We have to raise the level of discussion to a point where we can make an honest assessment of the world and be able to predict the future.” Yeshitela noted how the presidential debates had no discussion on the fact that half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day in U.S. dollars. “We have accepted our conditions as normal.” The U.S. hasn’t changed its attitude toward Africans today, despite Obama in the White House. “We want victory to the oppressed. Victory to the Africans who will have to fight imperialism in this country. The oppressed will have to stand up. We have to build a social movement!” declared Chairman Omali. Tangiza Gyma from the Democratic Republic of Congo spoke on the horrible conditions of existence of our people in Congo. He stated that “Congo is the heart of Africa. If Congo is not stable, Africa is not stable.” He called for One Africa, and recalled a time when we didn’t have the borders in Africa. He noted that Patrice Lumumba was removed from power in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lisa Davis gave a presentation on the healthcare working-group of the Black is Back Coalition. She noted how Africans get the worst healthcare, and our outcomes are generally not favorable when dealing with the colonial medical establishment. She called for the need for revolutionary healthcare that is affordable and accessible to poor and working class Africans. Rich Piedrahita of the APSP spoke for the Mass Action Committee and the role of students. Piedrahita revealed how schools teach a colonial education, which results in students receiving a colonial worldview. Chairman Omali Yeshitela added that students need to open up their campuses to the Coalition. We need to involve ourselves in teach-ins on campus and mobilize students about their issues. Education needs a transformation, where it produces more than “chocolate-covered white people.” Education should be geared to enable students to develop our communities. “The campuses have to be turned into centers of resistance. That is the purpose of student organization.” Glen Ford reopened the conference after a brief break with the U.S. Africa military command in Africa, or AFRICOM. He explained how the U.S. rules over virtually all of Africa’s military with very few exceptions. He said that the U.S. embeds itself in African militaries, and that there are no U.S. autonomous bases outside the one in Djibouti. By not having open, easily identified U.S. bases in Africa creates less sources of tension and dissent. The African Union is thusly controlled by AFRICOM. It is armed, financed and trained by the U.S. and CIA. Uganda’s and Ethiopia’s armies especially do U.S. bidding. “This should disturb us all,” Ford said. Markus Kothner of the We Are Patrice Lumumba Coalition and of the Black is Back Coalition/United Kingdom spoke next. He informed the audience about the oppression that African immigrants to Europe face. He talked about the refugee/concentration camps in Germany where African immigrants are sent. They are shacks with no heat or windows located in white neighborhoods with decent houses. Oury Jalloh, who was murdered by German police, was a refugee in one of those camps. The police murdered and burned him with impunity. Diop Olugbala, President of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement spoke next on the panel on exposing the conditions for Africans in the U.S. and Europe. Diop then explained Bakari Olantunji’s arrest while serving the People’s Subpoena to Oakland’s police chief, Howard Jordan.
Using our media to Break the Silence
Solomon Commissiong of Your World News spoke next. He recalls being inspired by Glen Ford’s Black Agenda Report and The Burning Spear newspaper on the importance of telling our own stories. He talked about how Pacifica’s liberal news agency, Democracy Now refuses to run a story on the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s finding that every 36 hours, an African is killed by the police or white vigilante’s. He said that we need information to liberate our minds, which will lead to action. Chairman Omali Yeshitela spoke and he appreciated the commentary on media and the war for the minds of our people. Chairman Omali commented that we must also include in our narrative that we have to overturn our relationship to this system, which is based on feeding off of us. “Colonialism is an act of war. It has to make war against the people to keep people oppressed.” The media doesn’t work alone; it has to have something to back it up. It uses force and terror. “There is a lot of work done all the time to keep us timid, afraid and divided,” said Yeshitela. This was the fourth straight year that the Black is Back Coalition has marched on Washington.
Join and strengthen the movement to Break the Silence and End the Wars on Africa and African people!