The US Civil Rights Struggle – Negroes with Guns

Matt from the CPGB-ML takes a look at the way the history of the civil rights movement in America is taught. It is taught emphasising the moderate, and leaving out the revolutionary, so that its true lessons are rarely appreciated by students and in particular, by exploited and oppressed workers. And that is precisely the point.

He focuses on Robert F Williams, who wrote the classic novel “Negroes with Guns” that inspired the strategy and orientation of the Black Panther Party for Self Defence, among others.

Look out for more short Educational Videos, and let us know what you think about this one!

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Assata Shakur – black women in the fight for liberation and socialism

Red Youth salutes the revolutionary women of the world! Our young cadre will be publishing short pieces all this week to celebrate our revolutionary heroines in the run up to International Women’s Day. Today we give a Red Salute to Assata Shakur.

Come and celebrate International Womens Day this Sunday in Birmingham with the CPGB-ML and Red Youth at 274 Moseley Rd, Highgate, B12 0BS.

assata shakur

People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.

– Assata Shakur

Assata Shakur, who is now residing in Cuba and who remains on US imperialism’s list of the ‘most wanted’, has spent her entire adult life fighting imperialism and racism in the USA – a direct result of her involvement with the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army.

In her own words:

I am a 20th-century escaped slave. Because of  government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of colour. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.

She graduated from City College of New York and, at 23, she became involved with the Black Panther Party, helping to organise breakfast programmes for school children, before becoming a member of the Harlem branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP).

The BPP was an organisation dedicated to protecting black communities in the USA from police brutality and with an outspoken anti-imperialist, socialist political position, and it had set up social programmes which it called “survival programmes” to help its community.

These included the breakfast programme, medical clinics, a service to drive people to prisons to visit incarcerated family members (the US government continues to put people in prison many miles away from family as an added form of torture and an obstacle to visits), legal aid and posting bail.

The party was founded on an eclectic Black Panther newspaper Kim il Sungideological basis but it included many ideas and theories from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and Castro. Unsurprisingly in the context of the times, the influence of Mao Zedong and China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was strong, as was the party’s friendship with Kim il Sung’s Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which sheltered many escaped Panther members.

The BPP openly and repeatedly praised the socialist revolutions in Vietnam, Cuba and China. In its early years, the party also raised money to buy shotguns (which they openly carried while on patrol) by selling copies of Quotations of Chairman Mao.

Comrade Assata left the Black Panther Party in the tumultuous years that followed the McCarthyite political repression that the CIA, led by Hoover, unleashed on the black liberation and socialist movement under the codename Cointelpro, and which saw many Panthers summarily executed by the state. She would later join the Black Liberation Army.

As a result of defending herself from an assassination attempt by the state, Comrade Shakur was found guilty by the US courts of several crimes, including the killing of one New Jersey state trooper and the wounding of another. She escaped from prison in 1979 and has been living in Cuba in political asylum since 1984.

There have been multiple attempts to extradite her. In 1997, Carl Williams, superintendent of the New Jersey state police  wrote a letter to Pope John Paul II requesting him to raise the issue of Shakur’s extradition during his talks with President Fidel Castro.

Since 2005, the FBI has classified her Comrade Assata a ‘domestic terrorist’. In 2013, the FBI made Shakur the first woman to feature on its list of most wanted ‘terrorists’ and a $2m bounty was offered for her capture.

Comrade Assata Shakur, like thousands of other young revolutionary women in the 1960s – took a stand against the injustices of the imperialist system and has remained a firm anti-imperialist fighter until this day. A generation of young black Americans fought bravely in the ranks of the Black Panther Party and the other revolutionary organisations of those times and faced immense hardship and the brutality of the United States police and secret services.

Assata stands tall today as an example to a whole new generation of women: dare to struggle and dare to win!

Journalists and NUJ membership still waiting on High Court judgement

A demonstration was held outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 25 April by members of the NUJ and PCS unions. Inside, a judicial review was being sought of a court decision which required journalists, media organisations and broadcasters to hand over footage taken by journalists during the ‘disturbances’ at Dale Farm to the police. Despite this militant, assertive and inspired leadership from the NUJ the courts keep NUJ members (and the rest of civil society) waiting!

Click this link to read the NUJ news report.

Confusion reigned in the minds of some members of the NUJ who turned up outside the High Court and considered their three or four-minute participation in a photo-op feeding frenzy of toothless piranhas as synonymous with union solidarity! They were surprised when, on trying to induce those members taking part in the event into a favorable pictorial arrangement to further enhance the ‘newsworthy’ commercial viability of their shoot, they were treated with contempt and derision.

Years of covering union events as observers and never as players has dulled their minds to the fact their own union protest requires something more of a contribution from their person besides the usual cynical exploitation!

The appellant, Jason Parkinson, who was also one of the demo participants, is probably correct in surmising that since 2010 the news industry has seen a dramatic increase in production orders by the police.

Although journalists’ ‘right to silence’ has been enshrined in European law since 1996, the domestic production order situation exists and will continue to exist precisely because the bourgeoisie has no intention of allowing a precedent to be set in regards to the ‘defense of press freedom’.

It matters not a jot that the John McDonnells and Austin Mitchells of this world stand up in Parliament to repeatedly table parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State; the response is always the same: deflection!

A few good apples in a barrel full of rotten ones can’t reverse the process of decay, whether one is an ‘honest’ member of the perfidious Labour Party or not.

No one doubts the union’s commitment to legally defending the vital principle: “the protection of journalistic sources and material”. One can believe Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, when she states:

“The media played a critical public interest role in reporting on Dale Farm and the case will have significant implications for the whole of our industry. Journalists are put in danger if footage gathered whilst reporting events is seized and used by the police. The NUJ’s code of conduct compels the union – and our members – to defend a vital principle, the protection of journalistic sources and material.”

Still, the union’s acceptance of the law as it stands, including a raft of other anti-union laws, means this principle has to be fought for time and time again! The seeming reliance exclusively on the ‘NUJ Parliamentary Group’ to act as a guarantor of journalistic freedom is no defining strategy for defense; nor are parliamentary questions likely to induce media-group managements to have second thoughts about a title’s viability and sustainability.

What’s more, having bought into the Leveson inquiry and offered evidence against Murdoch on the condition of anonymity for NUJ members, the union now finds itself in a quandary, since it was revealed during proceedings that Murdoch’s ‘Management and Standards Committee’ at News International handed over hundreds of emails from journalists to police investigating News International, with the likelihood of betraying the journalists’ confidential sources and outing whistleblowers’ identities.

Police have 171 officers on the case – more than they had on Milly Dowler’s murder or the Lockerbie plane crash!

The NUJ is now reduced to begging Murdoch not to hand over any more journalists’ emails, threatening that “unless satisfactory assurances that similar investigations will not take place on the Times and Sunday Times, the union will seek a legal injunction”, whilst somewhat lamely producing sound bites demanding the resignation of culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Meanwhile, the prospect of the Dale Farm production order review finding in favour of journalistic freedom, and against the UK police state looks ever more remote.

Not a good day for the working class, it would seem. But all the anti-democratic, anti-working class and repressive legislation they can heap on their books will not safeguard the capitalist state from the mounting anger of the working class, once they learn to direct, channel and focus it in a revolutionary manner. In the last analysis, they are few, and we are many.

Capitalism fears revolutionary consciousness and organized mass action of the working class as medieval townsfolk fear the plague. That is why they set such draconian sentences for boys posting “lets riot”, or “I support the Afghan resistance” on facebook. And that is why they constantly seek to enlist the people to spy on themselves and each other. The sooner the journalistic fraternity realize this, identify themselves with the interests of the working people, and lend a bit of backbone to the struggle, the better.

Malcolm X remembered in Smethwick

Back in 1965, a matter of days before his murder, Malcolm X visited Smethwick in the West Midlands and toured the area alongside local marxist leninists. A number of comrades had been instrumental in organising the visit, but one individual prominent among them was the legendary Jagmohan Joshi, leader of the Indian Workers Association (GB) and Lalkar correspondent. On his trip to Smethwick Malcolm X was taken to areas where local Conservative Party members were urging the council to buy up empty housing stock and allocate the homes to ‘whites only’.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crKBfIQxvTs&feature=related]

The IWA led by comrade Joshi organised a tremendous campaign against this racist provocation and victory was eventually secured. Sadly, comrade Joshi passed away some time ago – but some of those he taught and struggled alongside remain active in the ranks of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist – Leninist) and were in Smethwick on Tuesday morning to witness the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to Malcolm X in Marshall Street. The plaque is more than a tribute to a great fighter for civil rights, it also stands as testimony to the work of many anti-racists and anti-imperialists who’ve lived and worked in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, notably Joshi, his comrades, and the the IWA(GB).

L to R Jak Beula, Harbhajan Dardi and Beenie Brown: Malcom X, Marshall Street, Smethwick, Blue Plaque unveiling.Nubian Jak Community Trust; IWA; Indian Workers Association

Photos courtesy of Stalingrad O’Neill http://stalingrad-oneill.photoshelter.com/