We need to talk about all kinds of racism and about racism in general, because it is all reactionary and all serves to perpetuate inequality and class exploitation. If we are serious about ending racism, we have got to understand it, where it comes from, who it serves and how it works, and most of all how to fight it and defeat it, which is with solidarity – specifically, revolutionary intercommunal solidarity.
The thing about racism is that it always serves capitalism, that it is created by capitalism, and you can’t have capitalism without it. To deny that Black racism exists is denying that Black capitalism exists, and that Black capitalism works with white capitalism and ultimately serves to keep Black people oppressed and exploited and prevent – or at least postpone – the revolution that is necessary to sweep away capitalism, and with it racism, and advance society so that there will be equality and social justice for all. Don’t let these Black capitalists fool you! They are not about ending racism, because they are not about ending class exploitation and class oppression, ’cause that is how capitalism works. Like Brother Malcolm said, “Show me a capitalist and I’ll show you a bloodsucker!” And that ain’t no lie!
You see, when people get hip to how racism actually works and they start articulating it, they become really revolutionary and really dangerous, and that’s when the capitalists try to take them out! Look at what they did to Malcolm X, and to Fred Hampton, to Amilcar Cabral and Kwame Nkrumah! Listen to the words of Comrade Robert Sobukwe, the founder of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) at its inauguration in April 1959:
“The structure of the body of man provides evidence to prove the biological unity of the human species. All scientists agree that there is no ‘race’ that is superior to another, and there is no ‘race’ that is inferior to others. The Africanists take the view that there is only one race to which we all belong, and that is the human race. In our vocabulary therefore, the word ‘race’ as applied to man, has no plural form. We do, however, admit the existence of observable physical differences between various groups of people, but these differences are the result of a number of factors, chief among which has been geographical isolation. In Afrika the myth of race has been propounded and propagated by the imperialists and colonialists from Europe, in order to facilitate and justify their inhuman exploitation of the indigenous people of the land. It is from this myth of race with its attendant claims of cultural superiority that the doctrine of white supremacy stems….
“Against multi-racialism we have this objection, that the history of South Africa has fostered group prejudices and antagonisms, and if we have to maintain the same group exclusiveness, parading under the term of multi-racialism, we shall be transporting to the new Afrika these very antagonisms and conflicts. Further, multi-racialism is in fact a pandering to European bigotry and arrogance. It is a method of safeguarding white interests, implying as it does, proportional representation irrespective of population figures. In that sense it is a complete negation of democracy.
“To us the term ‘multi-racialism’ implies that there are such basic insuperable differences between the various national groups here that the best course is to keep them permanently distinctive in a kind of democratic apartheid. That to us is racialism multiplied, which probably is what the term truly connotes. We aim, politically, at government of the Africans by the Africans, for the Africans, with everybody who owes his only loyalty to Afrika and who is prepared to accept the democratic rule of an African majority being regarded as an African.
“We guarantee no minority rights, because we think in terms of individuals, not groups. Economically we aim at the rapid extension of industrial development in order to alleviate pressure on the land, which is what progress means in terms of modem society. We stand committed to a policy guaranteeing the most equitable distribution of wealth. Socially we aim at the full development of the human personality and a ruthless uprooting and outlawing of all forms or manifestations of the racial myth.
“To sum it up we stand for an Africanist Socialist Democracy. Here is a tree rooted in African soil, nourished with waters from the rivers of Afrika. Come and sit under its shade and become, with us, the leaves of the same branch and the branches of the same tree. Sons and Daughters of Afrika, I declare this inaugural convention of the Africanists open.”[i]
Robert Sobukwe was arrested while leading a peaceful demonstration in Soweto protesting the discriminatory Pass Law on March 21st the following year, he was arrested for being in an area not permitted on his pass. That same day, another PAC-led protest of the Pass Law in Sharpsville, South Africa was fired upon by police, and 69 peaceful protesters were massacred. Sobukwe was convicted of ‘Incitement’ and sentenced to 3 years. After serving his sentence, he was then interred on Robben Island, where he was held incommunicado for another 3 years, and when he finally was released, he was put under house arrest and banned from travel or political activity. In a few years he was hospitalized for cancer and died in 1977.
Sobukwe became a Maoist while imprisoned and approved the transformation of PAC along those lines, but there was already a radical tradition of Pan-Africanists evolving into Communist revolutionaries. In the ‘Harlem Renaissance’ in NYC, a West Indian immigrant journalist for the New York Amsterdam News named Cyril Briggs, established his own journal, The Crusader, in September of 1918 to promote the idea of repatriation to Africa. The Crusader was funded by a Black businessman named George Wells Parker of Omaha, Nebraska, to promote the ideas of his Hamitic League of the World, a Pan-African nationalist group.
Cyril Briggs was also influenced by another West African immigrant, Marcus Garvey, who inaugurated the New York Division of his United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)[ii] in 1917 with 13 members. After only three months, the organization’s dues-paying membership reached 3,500. Garvey’s ambition was to unite all Black people internationally into a single organization under his personal control. In August of 1918, he founded his own newspaper, The Negro World, which he personally wrote the editorial column for each week.
THE RED SUMMER OF 1919
The post-WWI period saw a great resurgence of Ku Klux Klan activity and white racist violence most dramatically in the “Red Summer of 1919.” At the root of it was a backlash to the “Great Migration” of Blacks from the agricultural South to the industrial centers of the North and West. During the World War, half-a-million Black people had migrated to the northern cities. More than 359 thousand Black soldiers who had fought in segregated units in France were now returning home along with a quarter of the total U.S. male population between 18 and 31 who were now demobilized with no provision for their reemployment or housing by the government. At the same time, the war industries were laying off and in some cases shutting down.
Moreover, these Black ex-soldiers were not the same docile Negroes who had been drafted or enlisted in 1917. As W.E.B. Du Bois expressed in his famous editorial “Returning Soldiers” published in The Crisis in May of 1919:
“We are returning from war! The Crisis and tens of thousands of black men were drafted into a great struggle. For bleeding France and what she means and has meant and will mean to us and humanity and against the threat of German race arrogance, we fought gladly and to the last drop of blood; for America and her highest ideals, we fought in far off hope; for the dominant southern oligarchy entrenched in Washington, we fought in bitter resignation, For the America that represents and gloats in lynching, disfranchisement, caste, brutality and devilish insult — for this, in the hateful upturning and mixing of things, we were forced by vindictive fate to fight, also.
“But today we return! We return from the slavery of uniform which the world’s madness demanded us to don to the freedom of civil garb. We stand again to look America squarely in the face and call a spade a spade. We sing: This country of ours, despite all its better souls have done and dreamed, is yet a shameful land.
“And lynching is barbarism of a degree of contemptible nastiness unparalleled in human history. Yet for fifty years we have lynched two Negros a week, and we have kept this up right through the war.
“It disfranchises its own citizens.
“Disfranchisement is the deliberate theft and robbery of the only protection of poor against rich and black against white. The land that disfranchises its citizens and calls itself a democracy lies and knows it lies.
“It encourages ignorance.
“It has never really tried to educate the Negro. A dominant minority does not want Negroes educated. It wants servants, dogs, whores and monkeys. And when this land allows a reactionary group by its stolen political power to force as many black folk into these categories as it possibly can, it cries in contemptible hypocrisy: “They threaten us with degeneracy; they cannot be educated.”
“It steals from us.
“It organizes industry to cheat us. It cheats ups out of our land; it cheats us out of our labor. It confiscates our savings. It reduces our wages. It raises our rent. It steals our profit. It taxes us without representation. It keeps us consistently and universally poor, and then feeds us on charity and derides our poverty.
“It insults us.
“It has organized a nation-wide and latterly a world-wide propaganda of deliberate and continuous insult and defamation of black blood wherever found. It decrees that it shall not be possible in travel nor residence, work nor play, education nor instruction for a black man to exist without tacit or open acknowledgement of his inferiority to the dirtiest white dog. And it looks upon any attempt to question of even discuss this dogma as arrogance, unwarranted assumption and treason.
“This is the country to which we Soldiers of Democracy return. This is the fatherland for which we fought! But it is our fatherland. It was right for us to fight. The faults of our country are our faults. Under similar circumstances, we would fight again. But by the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jackasses if now that that war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and brawn to fight a sterner, longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own land.
“We return from fighting.
“We return fighting.
“Make way for Democracy! We saved it from France, and by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States of America, or know the reason why.”[iii]
The victory of the Bolshevik-led October Revolution in 1917, further alarmed the U.S. ruling class, as President Woodrow Wilson privately expressed in March of 1919: “the American Negro returning from abroad would be our greatest medium in conveying bolshevism to America.”[iv] The KKK revival was inspired from fear not only of civil rights and social equality for Black people but also from fear of the spread of Communist-led revolution. “Red Hunting” became a national obsession, and was particularly focused on the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), led by “Big Bill” Haywood, and the Socialist Party led by Eugene Debs, both of whom had been targeted by the government for their opposition to the draft during WWI. Every strike was denounced as a Bolshevik-led conspiracy aimed at “overthrowing the government and civilization,” and every Anarchist was seen as a bomb-throwing maniac.
Cyril Briggs began to draw the connection between the oppression of the Black people and the oppression of the mostly poor European workers in the leftist movements and to write about it in The Crusader, but his most immediate concern was the anti-Black violence of the “Red Summer.” While moving towards a Marxist analysis and building ties with the workers’ movement, The Crusader advocated formation of a separate organization of African-Americans to defend against racist attacks in the United States, and likened this to Africans’ combating colonialism abroad. In September 1919, The Crusader announced the formation of a new organization called the African Blood Brotherhood for African Liberation and Redemption (ABB), to serve as a self-defense organization for blacks threatened by race riots and lynchings. It was to be set up as a secret society organized into posts, though its main task was propaganda and political education of the Black masses.
President Woodrow Wilson, the “liberal Democrat,” publically supported the KKK:
“Born in Virginia and raised in Georgia and South Carolina, Wilson was a loyal son of the old South who regretted the outcome of the Civil War. He used his high office to reverse some of its consequences. When he entered the White House a hundred years ago today, Washington was a rigidly segregated town — except for federal government agencies. They had been integrated during the post-war Reconstruction period, enabling African-Americans to obtain federal jobs and work side by side with whites in government agencies. Wilson promptly authorized members of his cabinet to reverse this long-standing policy of racial integration in the federal civil service.
“Cabinet heads — such as his son-in-law, Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo of Tennessee – re-segregated facilities such as restrooms and cafeterias in their buildings. In some federal offices, screens were set up to separate white and black workers. African-Americans found it difficult to secure high-level civil service positions, which some had held under previous Republican administrations.
“A delegation of black professionals led by Monroe Trotter, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard and Boston newspaper editor, appeared at the White House to protest the new policies. But Wilson treated them rudely and declared that ‘segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.’
“The novel ‘The Clansman’ by Thomas Dixon – a longtime political supporter, friend and former classmate of Wilson’s at Johns Hopkins University – was published in 1905. A decade later, with Wilson in the White House, cinematographer D.W. Griffith produced a motion picture version of the book, titled ‘Birth of a Nation.’
“With quotations from Wilson’s scholarly writings in its subtitles, the silent film denounced the Reconstruction period in the South when blacks briefly held elective office in several states. It hailed the rise of the Ku Klux Klan as a sign of southern white society’s recovery from the humiliation and suffering to which the federal government and the northern ‘carpetbaggers’ had subjected it after its defeat in the Civil War. The film depicted African-Americans (most played by white actors in blackface) as uncouth, uncivilized rabble.
“While the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People publicly denounced the movie’s blatant appeals to racial prejudice, the President organized a private screening of his friend’s film in the White House for the members of his cabinet and their families. ‘It is like writing history with lightning,’ Wilson observed, ‘and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.’”[v]
The “Red Summer” began in May, in Charleston, SC, when four white sailors and a white civilian initiated a riot in which 3 Black men were killed and 18 Black men and 3 white men were injured.[vi] Next, on July 3rd, fighting broke out between soldiers of the 10th Cavalry, the “Buffalo Soldiers,” and police in Bisbee, AZ, where they were sent to march in the town’s 4th of July parade the following day. Bisbee, a mining town near the Mexican border, was filled with laid-offed miners, (all white). It was the kind of town where Chinese aren’t allowed on the streets after dark and Mexicans can’t go down in the mines. Blacks could only qualify as janitors in the saloons, whore houses and gambling halls that lined the main street. When the smoke cleared, 100 shots had been fired and eight people were wounded. The FBI somehow concluded IWW agitators were to blame.[vii]
The next major incident was in Longview, Texas. There were 78 Blacks lynched in Texas in 1919, one of them was in Longview, and the story was written up in The Chicago Defender, a weekly Black newspaper with national distribution.
“On July 5, 1919, The Chicago Defender published an article about Walters’ death. It said that ‘Walters’ only crime was that he was loved by a white woman,’ and it quoted her (unnamed) as saying that she ‘would have married him if they had lived in the North.’ The article described her as ‘so distraught over his [Walters] death that she required a physician’s care.’ It said that the sheriff guarding Walters had let the lynch mob take him, without offering resistance. While the article did not identify the woman, in those small towns many readers knew who she was. Some were offended at the suggestion that she had loved Walters, saying it was damaging to the young woman’s reputation.”[viii]
As Samuel L. Jones, a Black schoolteacher, was known to be a local correspondent for the Defender, whites believed he wrote the article, which he denied. The young woman’s brothers attacked Jones on Thursday, July 10, 1919, giving him a severe beating across from the courthouse. Dr. Calvin P. Davis arrived in his car soon after and took Jones to his office to treat him. Meanwhile a mob of angry whites had gathered and went looking for Jones and the doctor. Davis appealed to the Mayor for protection and was advised that he and Jones should leave town.
Around 1 A.M., several carloads of whites arrived at Jones’ house, where he, Doc Davis and several of their friends were waiting. Gunfire was exchanged, and three of the whites were slightly injured by birdshot, one man, who had taken cover under the house, was captured when his companions retreated and was severely beaten. Meanwhile, the white vigilantes regrouped at the fire house and summoned reinforcement by ringing the fire bell. The growing crowd broke into the hardware store to obtain more guns and ammunition. Before dawn, they marched back to Jones’ house, and finding it empty, set it on fire along with that of one of his neighbors. Emboldened, they set off to Doctor Davis’ home, burning a Black dance hall on the way. Not finding the Doctor at home, they let his wife and children escape unharmed before setting fire to his house and office. Two more homes and a car were burned, and the occupants roughed up before the sun came up and the mob dispersed.
After repeated appeals, the governor sent around a hundred Texas cavalry men and some Texas Rangers, but meanwhile, a group of “armed white citizens” shot to death a 60-year-old Black man who was the doctor’s father-in-law as he fled into a cornfield after firing a couple of warning shots. More National Guard and Texas Rangers were dispatched, and the town was placed under martial law. Numerous people were arrested, both Blacks and whites. The whites were released on $1,000 bonds and the Blacks were taken to jails in other counties. No one ever went to trial, but the Blacks were advised not to return to Longview. Doc Davis and Samuel Jones made it safely to Chicago with their families, where they told their stories to The Crisis.[ix]
From there it just got uglier. In Washington, D.C. starting July 19, white men, many in the military and in uniforms of all three services, responded to the rumored arrest of a black man for rape of a white woman with four days of mob violence against black individuals and businesses. They rioted, randomly beat Black people on the street, and pulled others off streetcars for attacks. When police refused to intervene, the Black population fought back.
“Nobody knows precisely how or where it started, but on a steamy Saturday night, July 19, 1919, the word began to spread among the saloons and pool halls of downtown Washington, where crowds of soldiers, sailors and Marines freshly home from the Great War were taking weekend liberty.
“A black suspect, questioned in an attempted sexual assault on a white woman, had been released by the Metropolitan Police. The woman was the wife of a Navy man. So the booze-fueled mutterings about revenge flowed quickly among hundreds of men in uniform, white men who were having trouble finding jobs in a crowded, sweltering capital.
“Late that night, they started to move. The mob drew strength from a seedy neighborhood off Pennsylvania Avenue NW called ‘Murder Bay,’ known for its brawlers and brothels. The crowd crossed the tree-covered Mall heading toward a predominantly poor black section of Southwest. They picked up clubs, lead pipes and pieces of lumber as they went.
“Near Ninth and D streets SW, they fell upon an unsuspecting black man named Charles Linton Ralls, who was out with his wife, Mary. Ralls was chased down and beaten severely. The mob then attacked a second black man, George Montgomery, 55, who was returning home with groceries. They fractured his skull with a brick.
“The rampage by about 400 whites initially drew only scattered resistance in the black community, and the police were nowhere to be seen. When the Metropolitan Police Department finally arrived in force, its white officers arrested more blacks than whites, sending a clear signal about their sympathies.
“It was only the beginning. The white mob – whose actions were triggered in large part by weeks of sensational newspaper accounts of alleged sex crimes by a ‘negro fiend’ – unleashed a wave of violence that swept over the city for four days. Nine people were killed in brutal street fighting, and an estimated 30 more would die eventually from their wounds. More than 150 men, women and children were clubbed, beaten and shot by mobs of both races. Several Marine guards and six D.C. policemen were shot, two fatally.
‘“A mob of sailors and soldiers jumped on the [street]car and pulled me off, beating me unmercifully from head to foot, leaving me in such a condition that I could hardly crawl back home,’ Francis Thomas, a frail black 17-year-old, said in a statement to the NAACP. Thomas said he saw three other blacks being beaten, including two women. ‘Before I became unconscious, I could hear them pleading with the Lord to keep them from being killed.’”[x]
The NAACP sent a telegram of protest to President Woodrow Wilson:
“…the shame put upon the country by the mobs, including United States soldiers, sailors, and marines, which have assaulted innocent and unoffending negroes in the national capital. Men in uniform have attacked negroes on the streets and pulled them from streetcars to beat them. Crowds are reported …to have directed attacks against any passing negro…. The effect of such riots in the national capital upon race antagonism will be to increase bitterness and danger of outbreaks elsewhere. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calls upon you as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the nation to make statement condemning mob violence and to enforce such military law as situation demands.”[xi]
The violence continued to spread: In Norfolk, Virginia, a white mob attacked a homecoming celebration for African-American veterans of World War I. At least six people were shot, and the local police called in Marines and Navy personnel to restore order.[xii] In city after city, it was the same.
“Starting July 27, the summer’s greatest violence occurred during rioting in Chicago. The city’s beaches along Lake Michigan were segregated by custom. Eugene Williams, a black youth, swam into an area on the South Side customarily used by whites, was stoned, and drowned. When the Chicago police refused to take action against the attackers, young black men responded violently. Violence between mobs and gangs lasted thirteen days, with white rioting led by the well-established ethnic Irish, whose territory bordered the black neighborhood. The resulting 38 fatalities included 23 blacks and 15 whites. The injured totaled 537, and 1,000 black families were left homeless. Other accounts reported 50 people were killed, with unofficial numbers and rumors reporting more. White mobs destroyed hundreds of mostly black homes and businesses on the South Side of Chicago; Illinois called in a militia force of seven regiments: several thousand men, to restore order.”[xiii] [xiv]
In the midst of the Chicago Riots, The Justice Department released statements that placed the blame on IWW and Bolshevik agitators inciting Negroes, “spreading propaganda to breed race hated.”[xv] One cited the work of the NAACP “urging the colored people to insist upon equality with white people and to resort to force, if necessary.”[xvi] In October of 1919, Dr. George Edmund Haynes, a co-founder and first executive director of the National Urban League, and head of Wilson’s Division of Negro Economics in the Department of Labor, issued a report on the “Red Summer” which was published in the New York Times. The Haynes Report linked the cause of the riots to the widespread and unpunished acts of white terrorism and lynchings practiced in America, citing more than 3,000 documented lynchings of Black men and women between 1889 and 1918, and the demonstrated inability or unwillingness of the states to curb this activity. “Persistence of unpunished lynchings of negroes fosters lawlessness among white men imbued with the mob spirit, and creates a spirit of bitterness among negroes. In such a state of public mind a trivial incident can precipitate a riot… Disregard of law and legal process will inevitably lead to more and more frequent clashes and bloody encounters between white men and negroes and a condition of potential race war in many cities of the United States.”[xvii]
Haynes’ Report so annoyed the members of Congress, that they cut off the funding for his division of the Department of Labor. They much preferred the Justice Department’s General Intelligence (or antiradical) Division of the Bureau of Investigation established on August 1, 1919 with J. Edgar Hoover as its head, which kept feeding them and the press what they wanted to hear; that leftist radicals were inciting the Negroes to violence. Accordingly, Hoover obtained funding to infiltrate Black organizations.
In April and June of 1919, Galleanists–Italian followers of the anarchist Luigi Galleani—carried out waves of letter and package bombings utilizing the U.S. Postal Service. Not all exploded, and those that did injured only servants,[xviii] but one damaged the home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. This provided Palmer with the pretext for mass arrests and deportations of known and suspected radicals. At 9 pm on November 7, 1919, the second anniversary of the October Revolution, The FBI and local police carried out well-publicized and violent raids in 12 cities against members of the Union of Russian Workers. Of 650 arrested in NYC, only 43 ended up being approved by the Department of Labor as meeting the criteria for deportation.
In January of 1920, Hoover orchestrated another wave of raids in more than 30 cities in which more than 3,000 persons were arrested, (including some U.S. citizens), who were often brutally interrogated. Despite initial phony claims of bombs being seized, only four ordinary handguns were confiscated. In all, more than 10,000 were swept up in the “Palmer Raids,” but after the Department of Labor investigated the cases, only 556 resident aliens were eventually deported under the Immigration Act of 1918.[xix] Palmer protested vigorously to the President and to Congress, and tried to get the Under Secretary of Labor fired, but all he succeeded in doing was making himself look foolish when his predicted insurrection on May Day 1920 failed to materialize, and Palmer’s bid to get the Democratic Party’s nomination to replace Woodrow Wilson also failed to materialize.[xx] The Galleanists, however, continued with their bombings undisturbed for many years.
ONE DIVIDES INTO TWO AMONG THE PAN-AFRICANISTS
Initially, the ABB organized as a faction within Garvey’s UNIA, giving critical support to his leadership. ABB leaders Briggs and Claude McKay, the Jamaican poet and writer, helped to organize UNIA’s 1920 and 1921 international conferences in NYC. At the second, McKay arranged for the white Communist Party leader, Rose Pastor Stokes, to address the assembly.
At the first, the delegates drafted and approved the:
Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World
Drafted and adopted at Convention held in New York, 1920, over which Marcus Garvey presided as Chairman, and at which he was elected Provisional President of Africa.
Be it Resolved, That the Negro people of the world, through their chosen representatives in convention assembled in Liberty Hall, in the City of New York and United States of America, from August 1 to August 31, in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and twenty, protest against the wrongs and injustices they are suffering at the hands of their white brethren, and state what they deem their fair and just rights, as well as the treatment they propose to demand of all men in the future.
- That nowhere in the world, with few exceptions, are black men accorded equal treatment with white men, although in the same situation and circumstances, but, on the contrary, are discriminated against and denied the common rights due to human beings for no other reason than their race and color.
We are not willingly accepted as guests in the public hotels and inns of the world for no other reason than our race and color.
- In certain parts of the United States of America our race is denied the right of public trial accorded to other races when accused of crime, but are lynched and burned by mobs, and such brutal and inhuman treatment is even practiced upon our women.
III. That European nations have parceled out among themselves and taken possession of nearly all of the continent of Africa, and the natives are compelled to surrender their lands to aliens and are treated in most instances like slaves.
- In the southern portion of the United States of America, although citizens under the Federal Constitution, and in some states almost equal to the whites in population and are qualified land owners and taxpayers, we are, nevertheless, denied all voice in the making and administration of the laws and are taxed without representation by the state governments, and at the same time compelled to do military service in defense of the country.
- On the public conveyances and common carriers in the Southern portion of the United States we are jim-crowed and compelled to accept separate and inferior accommodations and made to pay the same fare charged for first-class accommodations, and our families are often humiliated and insulted by drunken white men who habitually pass through the jim-crow cars going to the smoking car.
- The physicians of our race are denied the right to attend their patients while in the public hospitals of the cities and states where they reside in certain parts of the United States. Our children are forced to attend inferior separate schools for shorter terms than white children, and the public school funds are unequally divided between the white and colored schools.
VII. We are discriminated against and denied an equal chance to earn wages for the support of our families, and in many instances are refused admission into labor unions, and nearly everywhere are paid smaller wages than white men.
VIII. In Civil Service and departmental offices we are everywhere discriminated against and made to feel that to be a black man in Europe, America and the West Indies is equivalent to being an outcast and a leper among the races of men, no matter what the character and attainments of the black man may be.
- In the British and other West Indian Islands and colonies, Negroes are secretly and cunningly discriminated against, and denied those fuller rights in government to which white citizens are appointed, nominated and elected.
- That our people in those parts are forced to work for lower wages than the average standard of white men and are kept in conditions repugnant to good civilized tastes and customs.
- That the many acts of injustice against members of our race before the courts of law in the respective islands and colonies are of such nature as to create disgust and disrespect for the white man’s sense of justice.
XII. Against all such inhuman, unchristian and uncivilized treatment we here and now emphatically protest, and invoke the condemnation of all mankind. In order to encourage our race all over the world and to stimulate it to a higher and grander destiny, we demand and insist on the following Declaration of Rights:
Be it known to all men that whereas, all men are created equal and entitled to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and because of this we, the duly elected representatives of the Negro peoples of the world, invoking the aid of the just and Almighty God do declare all men women and children of our blood throughout the world free citizens, and do claim them as free citizens of Africa, the Motherland of all Negroes.
That we believe in the supreme authority of our race in all things racial; that all things are created and given to man as a common possession; that there should be an equitable distribution and apportionment of all such things, and in consideration of the fact that as a race we are now deprived of those things that are morally and legally ours, we believe it right that all such things should be acquired and held by whatsoever means possible.
That we believe the Negro, like any other race, should be governed by the ethics of civilization, and, therefore, should not be deprived of any of those rights or privileges common to other human beings.
We declare that Negroes, wheresoever they form a community among themselves, should be given the right to elect their own representatives to represent them in legislatures, courts of law, or such institutions as may exercise control over that particular community.
We assert that the Negro is entitled to even-handed justice before all courts of law and equity in whatever country he may be found, and when this is denied him on account of his race or color such denial is an insult to the race as a while and should be resented by the entire boy of Negroes.
We declared it unfair and prejudicial to the rights of Negroes in communities where they exist in considerable numbers to be tried by a judge and jury composed entirely of an alien race, but in all such cases members of our race are entitled to representation on the jury.
We believe that any law or practice that tends to deprive any African of his land or the privileges of free citizenship within his country is unjust and immoral, and no native should respect any such law or practice.
We declare taxation without representation unjust and tyrannous, and their should be no obligation on the part of the Negro to obey the levy of a tax by an law-making body from which he is excluded and denied representation on account of his race and color.
We believe that any law especially directed against the Negro to his detriment and singling him out because of his race or color is unfair and immoral, and should not be respected.
We believe all men entitled to common human respect, and that our race should in no way tolerate any insults that may be interpreted to mean disrespect to our color.
We deprecate the use of the term “nigger” as applied to Negroes, and demand that the word “Negro” be written with a capital “N.”
We believe that the Negro should adopt every means to protect himself against barbarous practices inflicted upon him because of color.
We believe in the freedom of Africa for the Negro people of the world, and by the principle of Europe for the Europeans and Asia for the Asiatics; we also demand Africa for the Africans at home and abroad.
We believe in the inherent right of the Negro to possess himself of Africa, and that his possession of same shall not be regarded as an infringement on any claim or purchase made by any race or nation.
We strongly condemn the cupidity of those nations of the world who, by open aggression or secret schemes, have seized the territories and inexhaustible natural wealth of Africa, and we place on record our most solemn determination to reclaim the treasures and possession of the vast continent of our forefathers.
We believe all men should live in peace one with the other, but when races and nations provoke the ire of other races and nations by attempting to infringe upon their rights, war becomes inevitable, and the attempt in any way to free one’s self or protect one’s rights or heritage becomes justifiable.
Whereas, the lynching, by burning, hanging or any other means, of human beings is a barbarous practice, and a shame and disgrace to civilization, we therefore declared any country guilty of such atrocities outside the pale of civilization.
We protest against the atrocious crime of whipping, flogging and overworking of the native tribes of Africa and Negroes everywhere. These are methods that should be abolished, and all means should be taken to prevent a continuance of such brutal practices.
We protest against the atrocious practice of shaving the heads of Africans, especially of African women or individual of Negro blood, when placed in prison as a punishment for crime by an alien race.
We protest against segregated districts, separate public conveyances, industrial discrimination, lynchings and limitations of political privileges of any Negro citizen in any part of the world on account of race, color, or creed, and will exert our full influence and power against all such.
We protest against any punishment inflicted upon a Negro with severity, as against lighter punishment inflicted upon another of an alien race for like offense, as an act of prejudice injustice, and should be resented by the entire race.
We protest against the system of education in any country where Negroes are denied the same privileges and advantages as other races.
We declare it inhuman and unfair to boycott Negroes from industries and labor in any part of the world.
We believe in the doctrine of the freedom of the press, and we therefore emphatically protest against the suppression Negro newspapers and periodicals in various parts of the world, and call upon Negroes everywhere to employ all available means to prevent such suppression.
We further demand free speech universally for all men.
We hereby protest against the publication of scandalous and inflammatory articles by an alien press tending to create racial strife and the exhibition of picture films showing the Negro as a cannibal.
We believe in the self-determination of all peoples.
We declare for the freedom religious worship.
With the help of Almighty God, we declare ourselves the protectors of the honor and virtue of our women and children, and pledge our lives for their protection and defense everywhere, and under all circumstances from wrongs and outrages.
We demand the right of unlimited and unprejudiced education for ourselves and our posterity forever.
We declare that the teaching in any school by alien teachers to our boys and girls, that the alien race is superior to the Negro race, is an insult to the Negro people of the world.
Where Negroes form a part of the citizenry of any country, and pass the civil service examination of such country, we declare them entitled to the same consideration as other citizens as to appointments in such civil service.
We vigorously protest against the increasingly unfair and unjust treatment accorded Negro travelers on land and sea by the agents and employees of railroad and steamship companies and insist that for equal fare we receive equal privileges with travelers of other races.
We declare it unjust for any country, State or nation to enact laws tending to hinder and obstruct the free immigration of Negroes on account of their race and color.
That the right of the Negro to travel unmolested throughout the world be not abridged by any person or persons, and all Negroes are called upon to give aid to a fellow Negro when thus molested.
We declare that all Negroes are entitled to the same right to travel over the world as other men.
We hereby demand that the governments of the world recognize our leader and his representatives chosen by the race to look after the welfare of our people under such governments.
We demand complete control of our social institutions without interference by any alien race or races.
That the colors, Red, Black and Green, be the colors of the Negro race.
Resolved, That the anthem “Ethiopia, Thou Land of Our Fathers,” etc., shall be the anthem of the Negro race.
We believe that any limited liberty which deprives one of the complete rights and prerogatives of full citizenship is but a modified form of slavery.
We declare it an injustice to our people and a serious impediment to the health of the race to deny to competent licensed Negro physicians the right to practice in the public hospitals of the communities in which they reside, for no other reason than their race and color.
We call upon the various governments of the world to accept and acknowledge Negro representatives who shall be sent to the said governments to represent the general welfare of the Negro peoples of the world.
We deplore and protest against the practice of confining juvenile prisoners in prisons with adults, and we recommend that such youthful prisoners be taught gainful trades under humane supervision.
Be it further resolved, that we as a race of people declare the League of Nations null and void as far as the Negro is concerned, in that it seeks to deprive Negroes of their liberty.
We demand of all men to do unto us as we would do unto them, in the name of justice; and we cheerfully accord to all men all the rights we claim herein for ourselves.
We declare that no Negro shall engage himself in battle for an alien race without first obtaining the consent of the leader of the Negro people of the world, except in a matter of national self-defense.
We protest against the practice of drafting Negroes and sending them to war with alien forces without proper training, and demand in all cases that Negro soldiers be given the same training as the aliens.
We demand that instructions given Negro children in schools include the subject of “Negro History,” to their benefit.
We demand a free and unfettered commercial intercourse with all the Negro people of the world.
We declare for the absolute freedom of the seas for all peoples.
We demand that our duly accredited representatives be given proper recognition in all leagues, conferences, conventions or courts of international arbitration wherever human rights are discussed.
We proclaim the 31st day of August of each year to be an international holiday to be observed by all Negroes.
We want all men to know we shall maintain and contend for the freedom and equality of every man, woman and child of our race, with our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
These rights we believe to be justly ours and proper for the protection of the Negro race at large, and because of this belief we, on behalf of the four hundred million Negroes of the world, do pledge herein the sacred blood of the race in defense, and we hereby subscribe our names as a guarantee of the truthfulness and faithfulness hereof in the presence of Almighty God, on the 13th day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty.[xxi]
Up to this point, Garvey and his wife, Amy Ashwood Garvey[xxii], welcomed alliances with the progressive intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance: After the 1920 convention, Garvey began more and more drifting to the right,[xxiii] a fact noted by the KKK webpage dedicated to his honor:
“At a magnificent UNIA conference in New York in 1920, the delegates unanimously appointed themselves representatives of Africa even though there was not one genuinely African name amongst the 122 signatories to the declaration. Before the delegates dispersed, Garvey permitted them to elect him Provisional President of Africa. Over the years, Garvey cheerfully appointed Knights and Ladies of Africa from amongst his most loyal followers. When the League of Nations was discussing the future of Germany’s African colonies after the First World War, Garvey proposed that instead of the colonies being granted self-government, the mandate to govern them should be granted to the UNIA.
“However, after the 1920 convention, Garvey began to move further and further towards racialism. The Left-wing “African Blood Brotherhood was barred from the UNIA. Around this time, he began to formulate more nationalistic, rather than internationalistic ideas. The basic point difference between Garvey and the Black left was whether or not the UNIA should cooperate with multi-racial working class organizations. Garvey’s racialist, separatist ideas were finally developed when he wrote, in 1923, ‘Hitherto the other Negro movements in America (with the exception of the Tuskegee effort of Booker T. Washington) sought to teach the Negro to aspire to social equality with the whites, meaning thereby the right to inter-marry and fraternize in every social way. Still some Negro organizations continue to preach this race destroying doctrine added to a program of political agitation and aggression.’
“‘The time is opportune to regulate the relationship between both races. Let the Negro have a country of his own. Help him to return to his original home, Africa, and there give him the opportunity to climb from the lowest to the highest positions in a state of his own.’
“‘We of the UNIA cede to the white man the right to doing as he pleases in his own country, and that is why we believe in not making any trouble when he says that “America is a White man’s country.”’
“In 1922 Garvey paid a visit to the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia. The white racialists were natural allies for Garvey. Their open White racialism helped to develop the race consciousness of American Blacks and to stimulate interest in the UNIA-sponsored movement for repatriation to Africa.
“In a message dated October 28, 1925, Garvey introduced a speaker from the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America (the northern KKK counterpart), whom he had invited to speak at Liberty Hall:
“‘Mr. Plowell and his organizations sympathize with us even as we sympathize with them. I feel and believe that we should work together for the purpose of bringing about the ideal sought-the purification of the races, their autonomous separation and the unbridled freedom of self-development and self-expression.’
“Garvey not only rejected the idea of political alliance with White leftists, preferring an understanding with White racialists to achieve segregation; he also rejected the idea of an alliance between White and Black workers, preferring an understanding with White employers.”[xxiv]
The comrades of the ABB certainly did take exception to Garvey’s romance with the KKK as well as with his lack of fiscal responsibility to the poor and working class investors in his various stock offerings. The ABB itself had gained national notoriety after the Tulsa Riot in May 31 – June 1, 1921. The ABB had a prominent post in Tulsa, and the media was crediting them for the stiff resistance put up by the Black community. The riot started after a Black shoeshine boy allegedly tripped and fell against a white elevator operator girl who let out a scream of surprise. The rumor quickly spread that a Black youth had assaulted a white girl in an elevator. When questioned by the police, the girl, Sarah Page, declined to press any charges, which only fed speculation that the two had a “lovers’ spat.” The police decided to pick the boy, Dick Rowland, up for questioning anyway. He was spotted the following day by Detective Henry Carmichael and Henry C. Pack, a black patrolman, and they took him into custody.
The Tulsa Tribune, one of two white-owned papers published in Tulsa, broke the story in that afternoon’s edition with the headline: “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl In an Elevator,” the same edition of the Tribune included an editorial warning of a potential lynching of Rowland, allegedly entitled: “To Lynch Negro Tonight.” Within an hour after the paper hit the streets, white men began gathering outside the courthouse. Tulsa was an “oil boom town,” full of poor white “roughnecks.” It was also home to the most prosperous Black community in the U.S. known as Greenwood, or “Black Wall Street.” About 7:30 p.m., approximately 30 Black men, armed with rifles and shotguns, decided to go to the courthouse and support the sheriff and his deputies to defend Rowland from the mob. Assuring them that Rowland was safe, the sheriff and his Black deputy, Barney Cleaver, encouraged the men to return home.[xxv]
By 10 pm, the white mob had grown to some 2,000, many of them armed. Earlier, some whites had tried unsuccessfully to break into the National Guard armory to get more effective weapons. Again, armed Black men, this time seventy-five deep, appeared at the courthouse to offer their support, and again they were turned away, but this time, one of the whites in the mob tried to relieve one of the Black men of his pistol, and the gun went off. This prompted an exchange of gunfire between the two groups. The “battle” was on. Within seconds, 10 whites and 2 Black men lay dead in the street. The Blacks retreated back towards Greenwood pursued by the white mob.[xxvi] The mob began shooting indiscriminately at Black people on the street, hitting at least one white man by mistake, and looting stores for weapons.[xxvii]
Members of the National Guard were deployed to protect the courthouse, police stations and other public buildings. Others were deployed to round up any Blacks that could be found and take them to improvised detention centers. Still others were deployed to protect the white neighborhoods surrounding Greenwood, but these tended to end up joining the mob laying siege to the Black community and trading fire with its defenders. A rumor that a trainload of Black militants was arriving to support the defenders led the white rioters to shoot up a passenger train as it pulled into the station.[xxviii]
A group of leftover WWI biplanes were pressed into service, ostensibly to provide reconnaissance, but were reported by many witnesses to have been dropping firebombs and shooting up the Black community. Repeatedly, as with other white riots, the authorities kept ignoring the reality of what was happening and interpreting it as a “Black insurrection” that must be suppressed. As the defenders began running out of ammunition, the attackers grew bolder, rushing up to throw firebombs and breaking into homes and businesses to loot and set fires. As the fires spread, people were forced to flee and become vulnerable to sniper fire. In the white community, some families with live-in Black servants were accosted by whites demanding they give up their “Negroes.” [xxix] Other whites opened their homes to give shelter to fleeing Black families.
In the aftermath, little was left standing in Greenwood. Homes that weren’t burned to the ground were looted and vandalized. No one knows how many were killed. Estimates vary widely. Some 800 people were admitted to the segregated white hospitals. Both of the Black hospitals were destroyed by fire. Thousands of Blacks had been interred, and some of these died in custody. Tens of thousands were made homeless. In the end, no one was charged. Insurance companies did not pay. The dead were quickly buried, and the whole thing was swept under the carpet of selective memory. Dick Rowland was quietly released after being driven to another city. Not until 1996, 75 years after the fact, did the state legislature authorize an official investigation. Predictably, the Black bourgeoisie seized the opportunity to beg for reparations to be paid, which was ignored in favor of construction of a memorial park. Lawyers are still hopeful.
Where the ABB gained both respect and notoriety as the militant defenders of Greenwood, Marcus Garvey was only inspired to ingratiate himself more with the white supremacists by helping to suppress the Brotherhood. Like his role model, Booker T. Washington, whom W.E.B. DuBois dubbed “The Great Accommodator,” Garvey bent over backwards to demonstrate that he opposed any form of militant resistance. His paramilitary African Legion was only used to break up meetings of his critics and rivals – like the ABB.
WORMS, MOLES, RATS AND AGENT PROVOCATEURS
Not surprisingly, the man he chose to be the Adjutant General of his African Legion was the first Black FBI agent, James Wormley Jones, who worked closely under the personal direction of J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate UNIA and set Garvey up. Jones played Marcus Garvey by criticizing himself and apologizing for being so light skinned. Garvey’s reverse racism led him to publicly attack his critics and rivals like A. Philip Randolph, the Socialist editor of The Messenger and founder of the first Black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, W.E.B. DuBois, the first Black to earn a doctorate, co-founder of the NAACP and editor of The Crisis, and Cyril Briggs, founder of ABB and editor of The Crusader, by calling them “white men” and “mongrel freaks.” Briggs sued him for “Ethnic Insult” and won, setting a precedent in Law.
According to a February 11, 2011 article posted on the FBI website, “A Byte Out of History,” other agents assigned to the UNIA included, Earl Titus, Authur Lowell Brent and Thomas Leon Jefferson. Also, according to the PBS documentary, “Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind” one of Garvey’s closest associates, Herbert Boulin, “owner of a Harlem based Black doll company, ” was an informant known as “Agent P-138.”[xxx]
Hoover infiltrated all the major Black organizations, including ABB, though it was the ABB that eventually uncovered James Wormley Jones, when someone recognized him from his days with the Washington D.C. Police, forcing him to retire from the FBI. Boulin proved most useful in that Garvey confided intimate secrets to him, such as his suicidal ideations, that enabled the FBI to work up his psychological profile and better play him. Garvey was convinced his political rivals, and particularly DuBois, were sabotaging his Black Star Lines when in reality it was his FBI infiltrators. One trick they pulled was to put contaminants in the fuel that ruined the ship’s engines.
Du Bois actually supported the concept of the Black Star Line to promote economic trade between African countries and the African Diaspora, but considered Garvey to be “fraudulent and reckless,”[xxxi] and the “most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America and the world.”[xxxii] He did not oppose Garvey’s slogan of “Africa for the Africans,” but he did oppose Garvey’s practice of trying to impose African-American domination over Africa. [xxxiii] Du Bois considered Garvey’s program of complete separation a capitulation to white supremacy; a tacit admission that Blacks could never be equal to Whites.[xxxiv] Du Bois is generally considered to be the “Father of Pan-Africanism” but his animosity to Garvey was not based upon rivalry for position, as bourgeois academics usually assume, but was a question of ideological-political essence. Garvey was indeed “fraudulent and reckless” with his racialist mentality and prejudice, his vulgar nationalism and ego-driven lust for power and glory. He was in short, a clown in a plumed hat, a wannabe Black Mussolini, who ended up espousing the cause of national socialism on the eve of WWII, and thus his legacy today is useful only as a tool for the global hegemony of capitalist-imperialism.
Du Bois, like Kwame Nkrumah, Mao, Sobukwe and Huey Newton recognized Pan-Africanism to be useful to the masses only as a stepping stone to the liberation of all of humanity through the defeat of capitalist-imperialism and the ending of the Epoch of Exploitation. As Nkrumah explained:
“To be sure, there is a connection between communalism and socialism. Socialism stands to communalism as capitalism stands to slavery. In socialism, the principles underlying communalism are given expression in modern circumstances. Thus, whereas communalism in a non-technical society can be laissez-faire, in a technical society where sophisticated means of production are at hand, the situation is different; for if the underlying principles of communalism are not given correlated expression, class cleavages will arise, which are connected with economic disparities and thereby with political inequalities; Socialism, therefore, can be, and is, the defence of the principles of communalism in a modern setting; it is a form of social organisation that, guided by the principles underlying communalism, adopts procedures and measures made necessary by demographic and technological developments. Only under socialism can we reliably accumulate the capital we need for our development and also ensure that the gains of investment are applied for the general welfare.
“Socialism is not spontaneous. It does not arise of itself. It has abiding principles according to which the major means of production and distribution ought to be socialised if exploitation of the many by the few is to be prevented; if, that is to say, egalitarianism in the economy is to be protected. Socialist countries in Africa may differ in this or that detail of their policies, but such differences themselves ought not to be arbitrary or subject to vagaries of taste. They must be scientifically explained, as necessities arising from differences in the particular circumstances of the countries themselves.
“There is only one way of achieving socialism; by the devising of policies aimed at the general socialist goals, each of which takes its particular form from the specific circumstances of a particular state at a definite historical period. Socialism depends on dialectical and historical materialism, upon the view that there is only one nature, subject in all its manifestations to natural laws and that human society is, in this sense, part of nature and subject to its own laws of development.
“It is the elimination of fancifulness from socialist action that makes socialism scientific. To suppose that there are tribal, national, or racial socialisms is to abandon objectivity in favour of chauvinism.”[xxxv]
Garveyism became the mirror image of white supremacy, not its negation but its compliment. He is to this day honored by the KKK and the right-wing think tanks of capitalist-imperialism because his is the essential expression of Black bourgeois cultural nationalism – like the Israeli Zionists, Saudi Wahhabists, or the Hindu nationalists of RSS, – used as proxies in this period of reactionary intercommunalism. What Garvey could not fathom was – why Hoover would become obsessed with taking him out when he was willing to concede global domination to the “white man” and asked only for the opportunity to “have a country of his own” to manage. One could say his idea of a “United States of Africa” was ahead of its time, because U.S. Imperialism had not yet achieved global hegemony. They were not looking for a manager. Africa was divided (and colonially dominated) between rival imperial powers. The “white man” had yet to become a consolidated political-economic entity, and still has not. Just as he mistook the KKK for the “real government” of the U.S., his lack of class analysis prevented him from seeing how the world was hooked up by political economics. His racialist world view blinded him.
As Cyril Briggs explained:
“What is Garveyism? A shrewd mixture of racialism, religion, and nationalistic fanaticism. It is without doubt an historic product, and has its roots in the past oppression of the negro. It is one of the signs of his awakening, the noisiest, though not the most effective, challenge to the white world — to the entire white world, for Garveyism looks at every white face as per se an enemy. Herein lies one of the chief reasons for the bitter opposition it has met from the class-conscious negro worker. It is a step in advance of his religious slavery, wherein the negro was completely dominated by his preachers and subserviently subscribed to the philosophy of giving up all the world to his exploiters so long as they would leave him ‘his Jesus.’
“The day sessions of the convention did not reveal the secret of Garvey’s power over the majority of the delegates and the gallery. It is only at the informal night sessions where emotionalism runs riot under the expert priest-craft of Marcus Garvey that the secret can be discovered. These night sessions were designed to flood the atmosphere with Garveyism and whip into line all recalcitrant delegates by the sheer power of fiercely concentrated fanaticism. Rituals were chanted, hymns sung, fiery racialistic speeches made, with an almost continuous accompaniment of flag-waving (the Red, Black, and Green of the UNIA) and parading of uniformed Legionnaires, Black Cross nurses, and other forces of the ‘UNIA Government.’
“At first the agitation carried on by the ABB delegation was quietly ignored by the officers of the convention after the first shock. But it soon began to show its effect in the growing spirit of revolt, and when, on the 25th day of the Congress, the third weekly bulletin of the ABB was distributed among the delegates with a headline declaring ‘Negro Congress at a Standstill — Many Delegates Dissatisfied with Failure to Produce Results.’ The crisis of the convention had arrived!
“As to the sins of omission, the Bulletin claimed that it ‘had formulated no general program for the negro race and no specific program for the various sections of the negro race (the American, West Indian, etc.), it ‘had devised no means for the liberation of Africa and the support of the Mohammedan and Ethiopian movements, the Egyptian and Moorish struggles, as means toward that end,’ it had ‘taken no steps toward raising and protecting the standard of living,’ it ‘had ignored the suggestion to consolidate the strength of the negro through a federation of negro organizations,’ it ‘had refused to condemn the capitalist oppressors of the negro,’ it ‘had failed to endorse the friends and natural allies of the negro race,’ it ‘had failed to protest the rape and continued occupation of Haiti by the United States,’ it ‘had failed to repudiate the ridiculous proposition of Mr. Garvey that negroes can be loyal to the flags of the nations that oppress them and liberate themselves from that oppression at the same time, that negroes living under the French and British flags can be loyal to those flags and still effect the liberation of Africa from the domination of those flags.’
“Following the distribution of the Bulletin at the noon recess Mr. Garvey in a passionate outburst denounced the ABB as traitors and Bolshevist agents, while one of his henchmen put forward a resolution calling for the expulsion from the convention of the ABB delegates. In the absence of these delegates, objection to the resolution was made by several UNIA delegates, but the motion was passed by a majority vote, with many abstentions. The ABB delegates were then read out of the convention. In answer to the action of the Garvey-controlled majority of the convention, the African Blood Brotherhood took its case to the negro masses by means of pamphlets, news releases in the negro press, and mass meetings. There the case rests for the present with the odds evidently in favor of the ABB and the popularity of Marcus Garvey clearly on the wane.”[xxxvi]
In 1922, Claude McKay attended the 4th Congress of the 3rd Communist International representing ABB, which paved the way for ABB’s eventual merger with the newly formed Communist Party in the U.S. and thousands of Black people joining the Party.[xxxvii] But the CPUSA never became fully revolutionary, nor did a revolutionary situation develop in the U.S. The Party, in fact, degenerated into revisionism. But the seed of revolutionary thought passed on, through Malcolm X, who for a time was a house guest of Cyril Briggs in Los Angeles, and a guest of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana. From Malcolm, the seedling passed to the Black Panther Party founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in 1966, and today the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC) is keeping it alive.
Correctly understood, the Pan-Africanist liberation struggle is the key to ending the system of capitalist-imperialism throughout the world. As Mao Tse-tung expressed it:
“I call on the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals, enlightened elements of the bourgeoisie and other enlightened persons of all colours in the world, whether white, black, yellow or brown, to unite to oppose the racial discrimination practised by U.S. imperialism and support the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimination. In the final analysis, national struggle is a matter of class struggle. Among the whites in the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling circles who oppress the Negro people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. At present, it is the handful of imperialists headed by the United Slates, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are oppressing, committing aggression against and menacing the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world. We are in the majority and they are in the minority. At most, they make up less than 10 per cent of the 3,000 million population of the world. I am firmly convinced that, with the support of more than 90 per cent of the people of the world, the American Negroes will be victorious in their just struggle. The evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the black people.”[xxxviii]
Racism is built into capitalism. As Malcolm X pointed out: “You can’t have capitalism without racism,” likewise, we can’t build socialism and global communism without eliminating racism. Those who defend capitalism tell us that racism is part of human nature or only white people can be racist, or whatever fabrication they think will work to defend the position that there are multiple “races” of human beings and they ought to be kept separate. It really doesn’t much matter which of these “races” they profess to be superior, racism is the unscientific belief that separate races exist. Nature will resolve the issue because “pure” white or “pure” black skin is an anomaly and as society becomes more mobile and integrated, shades of brown will become the norm everywhere. Racism is a social construct that can be deconstructed. As Malcolm predicted shortly before his assassination:
“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice, and equality for everyone, and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think that it will be based on the color of the skin.” —Malcolm X / El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
DARE TO STRUGGLE DARE TO WIN, ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
[i] Robert Sobukwe Inaugural Speech, April 1959, South African History Online (SAHO) www,sahistory.org
[ii] Founded in Jamaica in August 1914.
[iv] McWhirter, Cameron, Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America (NY: Henry Holt, 2011), p. 56
[v] Prof. W. R. Keylor, “The long-forgotten racial attitudes and policies of Woodrow Wilson,” March 4th, 2013, Professor Voices, Boston University.
[vi] In the words of the Navy investigation, “a disturbance which assumed the nature and proportions of a race riot took place in the city of Charleston, South Carolina, on the night of May 10-11, 1919, between the hours of 7:00 p.m., and 3:00 a.m.” Charleston in 1920 numbered 80,000 people, more than half of whom were black. On one side of the conflict were black civilians, and on the other was “a mixed crowd of whites” including mostly sailors, along with civilians, and “a scattering of soldiers and marines.” The incident started when an unidentified black man allegedly pushed Roscoe Coleman, U.S. Navy, off the sidewalk. A group of sailors and civilians chased the man, who took refuge in a house on St. Philip Street. A fight then took place there, with both sides throwing bricks, bottles, and stones. The crowd dispersed when one of the black civilians “drew a revolver and fired four shots without injuring anyone.” There followed “wild rumors and stories of a sailor having been shot by a negro” and general rioting. Beginning near Harry Polices’ Poolroom at the corner of Charles and Market streets, rioting spread to other parts of the city and continued with varying intensity until about 3:00 a.m. Charleston’s Mayor Hyde requested assistance in restoring order. The Charleston Navy Yard sent a detachment of soldiers and marines to help.“Bluejackets” were rounded up by the Marines and either taken back to the Navy Yard or held at the police station. All blacks were told to get off the streets.
During the riot, both sides used firearms. Sailors stole thirteen 22-calibre rifles from the shooting galleries of H.B. Morris and Fred M. Faress. Rioters robbed and vandalized W. G. Fridie’s barber shop at 305 King Street and James Freyer’s shoe shop, both black-owned businesses. Eighteen black men were seriously injured, as were five white men. Three black men, William Brown, Isaac Doctor, and James Talbot, died of gunshot wounds.
The Navy report sets out the final analysis. The riot was “of spontaneous origin and was precipitated by the actions of certain negroes, sailors, and at least one white civilian. . .” Research Briefing No. 3: Ethel New, “90th Anniversary of the Red Summer Riot in Milan, Georgia,” Historical Amnesia, Without Remedy, Becomes Cultural Slippage, 5/10/209
[vii] From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “The Bisbee Riot, or the Battle of Brewery Gulch, refers to a conflict during the Red Summer on July 3, 1919, between Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry and members of local police forces in Bisbee, Arizona. Following an incident between a military policeman and some of the Buffalo Soldiers, the situation escalated into a street battle in Bisbee’s historic Brewery Gulch. At least eight people were seriously injured, and fifty soldiers were arrested, although the consequences of this skirmish were relatively minor compared to others during the summer of 1919.”
[viii] Kenneth R. Durham, Jr. (1980), “THE LONGVIEW RACE RIOT OF 1919“ (PDF). East Texas Historical Journal. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
[ix] From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[x] “Race Riot of 1919 Gave Glimpse of Future Struggles,” By Peter Perl, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, March 1, 1999; Page A1
[xi] New York Times: “Protest Sent to Wilson,” July 22, 1919. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
[xii] “90th Anniversary of the Red Summer Riot in Norfolk, Virginia,” Historical Amnesia, Without Remedy, Becomes Cultural Slippage, 5/10/209
[xiii] New York Times: “For Action on Race Riot Peril,” October 5, 1919, accessed January 20, 2010.
[xiv] The highest number of fatalities occurred in the rural area around Elaine, Arkansas, where five whites and an estimated 100-240 blacks were killed. The “Red Summer” continued into the early Fall, and on the night of September 30, 1919, some 100 Black sharecroppers were attending a meeting of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union (PFHU) at a church in Hoop Spur, outside of Elaine, AK, and armed guards were posted outside. A shoot out with a carload of armed white men ensued, and a deputy sheriff was wounded and a private company gun thug was killed. The next day, the sheriff sent a posse to arrest several suspects, but meanwhile, a mob of some 1,000 white vigilantes showed up to put down the “uprising.” 500 U.S. troops were called in to “restore order,” and between the soldiers and vigilantes, an undetermined number of Black residents were rounded up, tortured and murdered. Elaine Massacre, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.
[xv] McWhirter, p. 159
[xvi] McWhirter, p. 160
[xvii] New York Times: “For Action on Race Riot Peril,” October 5, 1919, accessed January 20, 2010. This newspaper article includes several paragraphs of editorial analysis followed by Dr. George E. Haynes’ report, “summarized at several points.”
[xviii] A night watchman was killed and a housekeeper had her hands blown off.
[xix] Avakov, Aleksandr Vladimirovich, Plato’s Dreams Realized: Surveillance and Citizen Rights from KGB to FBI, Algora Publishing, ISBN 0-87586-495-3, ISBN 978-0-87586-495-2 (2007), p. 36
[xx] Pietrusza, David, 1920: The Year of Six Presidents (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2007), p. 257
[xxi] Excerpt from Amy Jacques-Garvey, ed. Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey. New York: Athenaeum, 1969.
[xxii] Amy Ashwood Garvey was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, but spent most of her childhood in Panama where her father supported the family as a businessman. She returned to Jamaica as a teen and attended Westwood High School in Trelawney, where she met her future husband, Marcus Garvey in 1914. Ashwood and Garvey both held strong beliefs in African American activism and were involved in political activities and soon they began to collaborate on ideas and strategies for the liberation of Jamaica, then a British colony. In 1916 they became secretly engaged. Ashwood’s parents did not approve and arranged for her to return to Panama that year. Garvey headed for the United States in the spring of that year. However, Garvey and Ashwood were reunited in September of 1918 in New York City. This marked the beginning of Ashwood’s important role in the development of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) branches. She became Garvey’s chief aide and the general secretary of the UNIA in 1919. On Christmas Day 1919, the long engagement between Garvey and Ashwood culminated in an enormous wedding celebration with several thousand friends and associates at Liberty Hall, the UNIA building in New York City. After the marriage Ashwood took on more prominent roles in the UNIA. She became director of the Black Star Line Shipping Co. and established a ladies’ auxiliary of the UNIA. She also helped plan an industrial school and helped establish the UNIA’s newspaper The Negro World. In October 1919 at the UNIA offices in Harlem, Ashwood risked her life to shield Garvey from the bullets of attempted killer George Tyler. Despite her heroism, the marriage began to deteriorate after that incident. They divorced in 1922.
[xxiii] An attempted assassination of Garvey remains shrouded in mystery. By one account the would be assassin was a disgruntled investor in one of Garvey’s financial schemes, by another, it was a government inspired plot. The suspect, George Tyler was arrested and either leaped or was pushed from a window in the jail and fell to his death the next day. Garvey, was wounded in the scalp and twice in the leg, but still managed to travel to Philadelphia to keep a speaking engagement. However, he may have suffered from post-traumatic shock after this incident.
[xxiv] “Marcus Garvey: A Black ‘Moses,’” The Official Website of the Knights Party, U.S.A.
[xxviii] Hirsh, James
[xxix] Ellsworth, Scott
[xxx] Truth Minista Paul Scott, “Spies Like Us,” No Warning Shots Fired, March 13, 2012
[xxxi] Lewis, David Levering (2009), W. E. B. Du Bois: A Biography, Henry Holt and Co. Single volume edition, updated, of his 1994 and 2001 works. ISBN 978-0-8050-8769-7. p. 428
[xxxii] Ibid. p. 465
[xxxiii] Ibid. p. 429
[xxxv] Nkrumah, Kwame, “African Socialism Revisited,” Paper read at the Africa Seminar held in Cairo at the invitation of the two organs At-Talia and Problems of Peace and Socialism. Published by Peace and Socialism Publishers, Prague, 1967, in a volume titled “Africa: National and Social Revolution.”
[xxxvi] “The Negro Convention,” by Cyril Briggs [“C.B. Valentine”], Published in The Toiler [New York], v. 4, whole no. 190 (Oct. 1, 1921), pp. 13-14
[xxxvii] “Along with the improvement in their economic status came a great wave of emotional radicalism, aroused in part by the wrongs suffered by the race and the sacrifices it was called upon to make for “World Democracy,” as well as by the fine democratic phrases with which the Entente statesmen were gassing the credulous liberals of their own countries and misleading the peoples of the colonies. This radicalism among the Negro workers at first took the form of a proletarian movement but has been to a great extent perverted by subsequent activities of opportunists and charlatans with their cowardly compromises and surrenders and their grafting of all sorts of stock schemes upon the mass movement. At present much of the original buoyancy and enthusiasm is lacking as a result of the collapse of the stock schemes that were grafted upon the movement and the inevitable exposure of the unscrupulous leadership responsible for the grafting, as well as by reason of the receding of the wave of prosperity and the considerable lowering of the economic status of the Negro workers, who have suffered much more than the white workers because of the present long-extended Unemployment Crisis. As a consequence of the sharpness of the economic pressure and the disgust and distrust engendered in their minds by their experience with unscrupulous leaders, large masses are sinking back into the ancient apathy and inertia from which they were roused by the World War and the period of educational propaganda preceding it. The prey of unscrupulous leaders who glibly promised everything but accomplished nothing save the periodical emptying of the pockets of their credulous followers, the Negro masses, are discouraged and suspicious, yet there are organizational possibilities on a wide scale for any organization that can, first, win their confidence and, second, push energetically the campaign of organizing and, third, keep up interest in the organization…. The Negro masses are leavened by an increasingly large body of race radicals and class radicals. The former are Negroes who, while roused to thought and action by the wrongs of the race, have not yet recognized the essential class nature of the struggle, nor the exact cause and source of their oppression, which they blame indiscriminately upon the entire white race. They are, however, generally inclined to side with and follow the leadership of the class radicals who, fully cognizant of the value of race radicalism for rousing the masses and as a natural and necessary step toward class radicalism, have not been slow in utilizing it and even in helping in its development…. Most of the class radicals are to be found in the ranks of the “African Blood Brotherhood” and the “Friends of Negro Freedom” — the latter an organization backed by the Socialist Party of America; the former said to have Communist tendencies. A large group of race radicals are also in the African Blood Brotherhood (which makes a race as well as a class appeal); and a larger group in the so-called “Garvey Movement” of “Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.” The true race radical should not be confused, however, with the motley crowd of fanatics, emotionalists, title and tinsel worshippers who make up the huge mass of the Garvey organization. Latterly, following the exposure of Marcus Garvey, the Garvey organization has been more and more confined to the fanatics and tinsel worshippers.” McKay, Claude, “A Report on the American “Negro Problem for the Communist International,” Moscow, November 1922
[xxxviii] Mao Tse-tung, “Statement Supporting the American Negroes In Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism,” (August 8, 1963)