A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

This article was written by Alicia Garza and originally posted at thefeministwire.com.

1540289_10153162482777345_8837525663887666013_oBlack Lives Matter! This has become the central slogan of the massive upsurge of rage, protest and resistance that has shaken this country in recent months. We are reposting this important article about the origins of the slogan because we don’t want to see it lost in the swelling ocean of post-Ferguson commentary.

The slogan itself is brilliant, an assertion of what is at the heart of this upsurge. It is an example of what our political tradition calls the Mass Line. The ideas of the people are gathered and concentrated into programs and slogans which the masses can then take up and apply.

Another thing about the Mass Line is that it is practiced by revolutionaries, people trying to change the world. The slogan did not fall from the sky. As the article details, it was developed by three young, queer African American women with deep roots in the struggle, in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. They added the Twitter hash tag to spread it more broadly and make it a more useful organizing tool.

Black Lives Matter resonates because it not only responds to police murders but is a defiant rejection of the thousand and one forms of oppression, repression and devaluation experienced by Black people as part of “everyday life” under white supremacist bourgeois rule in this country.

—FRSO/OSCL

I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities

The Day After: Protests from Coast to Coast after Killer Cop Goes Free

Concerned Citizens for Justice on the march in Chattanooga

Concerned Citizens for Justice on the march in Chattanooga

On November 24, a Missouri grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson, the cop who murdered Black teenager Michael Brown in cold blood in August. Police killings of Black folks is all too common (every 28 hours), but the outrageous decision that Wilson would not even face trial sparked outrage across the country. It fueled a movement for justice that is building across this country, led by Black youth.

Protesters rallied and marched from Ferguson to Boston and Miami to Seattle. The reports below were written by members and friends of Freedom Road who took part in the mobilizations in many of these cities. They give just a glimpse of the powerful movement that is continuing to grow and struggle for justice for Mike Brown and for the idea that Black lives matter, which is a revolutionary belief in this white supremacist society.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities

Terror … and Racial Terror

Photo by Stephen Melkisethian.This article was originally published at ZNet.

With all of the discussion about ISIS/ISIL, Al Qaeda, etc., one would think that the only terror on this planet is that derived from relatively small numbers of criminal fascists roaming the planet who claim to be Muslims.  Yet that is not the only location of terror.  In West Africa, for instance, millions live in terror as the horrific virus, Ebola, spreads, killing more than 3,000 people.  Due in large part to the devastation wrought by neo-liberal policies on the health care systems of West African nations, Ebola has been spreading at an unanticipated rate.

There are other forms of terror, of course.  Environmental devastation and climate change, which capitalism seems unable to stop but has also played a major role in advancing, threatens billions.  Islands across this planet are threatened as water encroaches on coastal regions.  And one need not be a rocket scientist to know that it is the working classes, the farmers and many other impoverished segments of society that will suffer on a scale beyond anything that will afflict the rich and powerful.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities

In honor of Jamala Rogers

Jamala Rogers is a lifelong activist and fighter for Black liberation. Among other roles, she is a founder and leader of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and she has been at the front of the movement for justice for Mike Brown since he was murdered by Ferguson police.

Today, in honor of Jamala’s birthday and her lifetime of struggle, FRSO/OSCL salutes her. We recommend watching the interview and reading the links below to get to know more about her.

Jamala’s blog

The Best of the Way I See It — political writings by Jamala Rogers

 

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Posted in Culture

Whites Protest in Solidarity with Black Youth in Ferguson

At 12:53 Sunday afternoon, I received an e-mail from the Organization for Black Struggle:

OBS has put out a call to action for white allies! For the white folks in the Don’t Shoot Coalition–they are asking us, as white allies, to act on this call September 28, TODAY. Police have been on a major PR campaign the last few days; we need to seize the narrative with an Allies Solidarity March tonight at Ferguson Police Headquarters, 222 S. Florissant Road.

Earlier in the week, a white terrorist burned the memorial to Mike Brown at Canfield Apartments and left a NIGG sign. Protests kicked off again that night, showing the continuing spontaneous–hopefully getting organized–rage of Black youth and their supporters among older people. A higher level of protest continued throughout the week. Most of the nightly protests moved from West Florissant to the main drag, North Florissant Avenue, through downtown Ferguson where the brand new police headquarters is located.

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Meanwhile, white cops in the St. Louis area have taken to wearing wristbands reading “I Am Darren Wilson,” openly declaring their willingness to shoot unarmed Black youth! And a more genteel approach was adopted by the white power structure in Ferguson, a campaign to proclaim via button, bumper sticker, yard sign, window placard and tee-shirt “I ♥ Ferguson.” (I wrote a letter about this to the Ferguson newspaper, which refused to print it.)

Finally, on Thursday, the Ferguson Police Chief issued a canned video “apology” to the Brown family and the community – too late, too canned, too much on tape, not in person. Protests rose. There were some arrests. Then on Saturday evening, amidst smaller protests, a Ferguson police officer was shot, reportedly by burglary suspects. An APB went out in the community for black men with dreds to stay inside because the police will be gunning for this suspect.

So when I got the OBS call to flip the script, I forwarded it to about 90 white people in my e-mail contacts list. It was impressive to have at least 5-10 people come up to me during the action to thank me for sending that e-mail, saying otherwise, they might not have known about it.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities

Reparations: What’s the Idea of an African-American Nation Got to Do with It?

This article was originally published on Black Commentator and ZNet.

Events in Ferguson and elsewhere have cut through the white noise (yes, white) of “post-racial” blather to reveal the state of race relations in the US.

Shortly before Ferguson, Ta-Nehisi Coates movingly made the case for reparations to the African American people; that is, being awarded money for being done wrong. He documents the plunder of African Americans from getting no wages for their life times of labor under slavery, to being consciously excluded by the government from Federal Housing Administration mortgages subsidized by all taxpayers, to 21st century racially-targeted predatory lending practices with banks performing the wallet extraction. In every period of history, black subordination has been enforced through violence.   Far from the waters of righteousness rolling down since the abolition of the slave system, an avalanche of assaults on their humanity and their economic and physical security have continued to pile insult and injury on African Americans. The cumulative effect of governmental policies and practices are the cause of enduring African American poverty and marginalization, generation after generation. Therefore, “repair” of the relationship between blacks and whites cannot take place without public acknowledgement of the crimes against African-Americans over five centuries and counting, and without U.S. governmental action to provide compensation for the brutal injustices committed.

But to get reparations is not the same as “to get free.” A larger question remains: “How will African Americans AS A PEOPLE be liberated?”

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities

Reflections On Ferguson, One Month On: Heroism, Lessons, What Next?

It is just over a month since Darren Wilson, a Ferguson Missouri pig, gunned down Mike Brown, a Black teenager, in cold blood. It is stunning how much has happenedmaybe even how much has changedsince that day. Here are some reflections on one of the most important urban rebellions in the US in the 21st century.

ad41630127f8dbf3da1b9cef7b6cfbed40c199d6493f624275d76fbf52fc2bb31. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the real heroes here are the ordinary people of Ferguson. If they had responded with a night of angry protest on August 8 and then slipped back into their daily lives, Michael’s would have been just another name added to the long, long list of those lynched by the police.

But they didn’t return to their daily lives. They continued to protest. They stood up to a full-fledged occupation of their community by multiple militarized police forces and the National Guard. The young’uns defied the curfews. Some threw back teargas canisters at the invaders, some did a little trashing and burning. The elders stood between them and the po-po, making it clear that the cops would have to go through them to get at the youth.

And they never stopped. Just a week ago, angry residents disrupted the first meeting of the Ferguson City Council since things blew up, informing them that there will be no going back to business as usual.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Police & Prisons

Suspected for Being Black

[This article was originally published on ZNet. We are republishing it here to share the sharp analysis of what lies behind he Ferguson explosion and the chord it has stuck among the Black masses in this country.]

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Each time there is a police or extra-judicial killing of an African American I have two immediate responses.  One is intense anger at the absence of legitimate democratic rule in the USA exemplified by the ability of the State as well as hate groups, to snuff out the life of African Americans at will. The second response is the recognition that this is an experience of terror that envelopes every person who is identifiably Black and, for that matter, other peoples who are of the ‘darker races.’

Two recent killings, one of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, speak to a very different reality experienced by African Americans compared with whites in the USA.  Without going through the details, there are certain questions that can be asked to anyone in the USA and, depending on the answer, one can ascertain what I would call the ‘racial terror index.’  Here are a few examples:

  • Are you generally afraid of the police?
  • To what extent do you expect there to be a possibility that you will be stopped by the police? Have you ever been trained on how to respond if you have been stopped?
  • If you were in a car that broke down, how likely are you to knock on someone’s door seeking help?
  • If you are man, how likely are you to drive long distances with a female of another ‘race’?
  • If you had difficulty getting into your own home, how likely would you be to contact the police and ask for their help?
  • How many neighborhoods do you need to be careful in transiting for fear that the police will stop you?

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities

Hip Hop and Ferguson

J. Cole in Ferguson

J. Cole in Ferguson

Resistance is deeply embedded in Hip Hop’s DNA. Hip Hop culture was born in the midst of the Black Liberation Movement, at a time of popular uprising, when people were doing their utmost to be free. No matter how much the forces of capitalism have done in their attempt to coopt it, at its heart Hip Hop culture is still a culture of resistance.

From the beginning the culture has been characterized by a willingness to document the ills of the community, the source of those ills outside the community, and the need “to fight the powers that be.” Anthems such as PE’s “Fight The Power” and “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,” NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police,” and going further back, Grandmaster Flash’s The Message are emblematic of this tradition.

The events in Ferguson, and the reaction of the Hip Hop community have brought this to the fore.

While much of the Hip Hop royalty, if you will, has remained silent regarding the execution of teenager Michael Brown by Darren Wilson of the Ferguson MO, PD, many have expressed their outrage. Some already produced songs in protest.

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Posted in Music

Protests erupt in Missouri after another police murder

Protestors in Ferguson confront police with hands raised to show they are unarmed. Michael Brown was shot and killed while doing the same.

Protestors in Ferguson confront police with hands raised to show they are unarmed. Michael Brown was shot and killed while doing the same.

Evidence is still being collected and facts sifted through as I write but what we are absolutely clear on is that a black, unarmed teen was murdered by a Ferguson cop yesterday. Ferguson is a one of many municipalities that make up St. Louis County in Missouri.

Michael Brown was visiting his grandmother at the Canfield Green apartment complex when the tragedy occurred. Details are sketchy but most eye-witnesses tell the same sad story: When accosted by the Ferguson police, Mike raised his hands to show that he was unarmed. Shots ranged out. He raised his hands again to show “compliance” and police fired again, killing him.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Police & Prisons