Claire Tran asked Cameron Barron, Mary Jo Connelly, Jamala Rogers, Peter Hardie, and Montague Simmons to share their reflections after the death of Nelson Mandela. They talked about his life and the influence and lessons from the anti-apartheid movement.
I first learned of Nelson Mandela. . .
MC: … when I got to college and soon got deeply involved in the South Africa Solidarity movement that was growing on U.S. campuses. It was 1977, a year after the Soweto uprising in which hundreds of African teenagers had been murdered. Nelson Mandela was one of many imprisoned, exiled or murdered anti-apartheid movement leaders, not the face of the movement that he would later become. One of the Soweto uprising’s organizers, Steve Biko—founder of the Black Consciousness Movement and the South African Student Movement—had just been murdered. The father of a student anti-apartheid organizer on our campus had been in jail at Robben Island and was now in exile in Britain but not permitted to enter the U.S. because of his communist affiliations. JR: . . .I don’t remember when I first learned of Nelson Mandela. It could’ve been during the early 1970’s when I was a member of the Congress of African People and we studied/supported the various liberation struggles in African at that time. When the U.S. Anti-Apartheid Movement began heating up in the mid-1980s and it was clear that the release of Nelson Mandela along with the end to apartheid would take center stage. Continue reading
Mandela and seven other anti-apartheid leaders leave court with their fists raised after being sentenced to life imprisonment.
The death of Nelson Mandela, though hardly unexpected, is reverberating through the world, and especially the global left. For revolutionary socialists, this is a moment to reflect on the accomplishments and on the shortcomings of the movement whose main public face he was. This thoughtful article, written by Brian Ashley of Amandla Magazine — one of a number of initiatives to regroup people’s movements in South Africa at a certain distance from the umbrella of the ruling ANC — is a useful starting point.
“Some are born great,
some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
— William Shakespeare
Amandla! does not believe in miracles. Mandela is not immortal. He has lived the fullest of lives. Amandla! stands with his family, the ANC (the organisation he lived and died for), his closest comrades, especially the surviving Treason Trialists and Robben Island prisoners, the South African people as well as millions of people around the world to mark the passing of a great man.
Yet Mandela was no God, no saint but a man of the people. He reaffirms that people born of humble beginnings can rise and achieve extraordinary feats. Victory is possible against all odds.
Mandela had all Shakespeare’s attributes of greatness. It is with this sense that the South African nation, such as it exists, in its divisions, polarisations and inequities pays tribute to a man that dedicated his life to the liberation of his people.
On December 4, 1969, Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was murdered in cold blood by the Chicago Police Department in conspiracy with the FBI.
Although many years have gone by since then, the people’s love for this great revolutionary has remained strong.
Below we publish two poems that we received. Written this year, they connect the anger over the murder of Fred Hampton and other revolutionaries with the struggles that continue today for liberation.
Disasters like the deadly typhoon which has devastated the Philippines can be daunting for folk hundreds or thousands of miles away. What can we do? One thing is to contribute right now to relief efforts in these critical days.
But big relief agencies have huge bureaucracies whose lifeblood is our donations and work with repressive and corrupt regimes. Give instead through groups like the L.A.-based Pilipino Workers Center. The PWC has deep ties with worker and community organizations in affected provinces and has partnered with The Inquirer, a highly respected independent newspaper to get aid where it is needed now.
You can give through the PWC at the website here.
Download a PDF version of this article here.
Students in the City University of New York system, backed by CUNY staff and faculty and by people from the community, are waging a critical struggle against the militarization of their schools. The main battlefront right now is the pulpit the CUNY administration has given unindicted (so far) war criminal General David Petraeus in the form of a semester-long seminar entitled “Are We on the Threshold of the North American Decade?”
In addition to trying to drive the Butcher of Fallujah and drone-happy former CIA director off of their campus, the students are trying to block the CUNY administration’s bid to bring the Reserve Officer Training Corps back to system campuses. This would be the first time CUNY would have a ROTC program since 1971, when student activists in the anti–Vietnam War movement forced their closure.system, backed by CUNY staff and faculty and by people from the community, are waging a critical struggle against the militarization of their schools. The main battlefront right now is the pulpit the CUNY administration has given unindicted (so far) war criminal General David Petraeus in the form of a semester-long seminar entitled “Are We on the Threshold of the North American Decade?”
This is a struggle with broad implications. Most obviously, it is a battle over whose interests CUNY will serve. A community-supported student strike and occupation of City College in 1969 forced the establishment of open admissions. In the decades since, fights have raged to defend and extend people’s programs and to stop the school from raising tuition and “standards” to force out students of color.
1. It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks since Barack Obama announced that US armed forces would launch a military attack on Syria, because of the Assad regime’s alleged use of poison gas in the civil war there.
Day by day, drama ensued. Global support was minimal. The British parliament voted against participating. The UN Security Council would not endorse it, nor would NATO. Representatives in Congress demanded a debate. Inconsistent and shifting statements from the administration about what was planned, and when, and even why, deepened the drama. Syria and Russia seized on one such statement, by Secretary of State John Kerry, to force the US to agree to negotiate over a plan for stripping Syria of its chemical weapons without an attack.
As news reports track the changing situation, we should not lose sight of one key thing: the principal factor in forestalling this attack is massive opposition from citizens of the US. From the start polls were negative, and only got more so. Senators and Representatives report being deluged by call and emails. Protests developed in smaller cities and towns across the country.
Update: The article below, written last week, was scheduled for publication here just as we learned that the hunger strike has been suspended as of September 5. We are still publishing this article to help share information about this important strike and the unfinihsed struggle of California prisoners. For more about the suspension of the strike, read this post from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity.
Rally at San Quentin State Prison, August 3.
August 26, 2013
Today marks day 50 of a nonviolent peaceful hunger strike among California prisoners to protest the inhumane conditions of their solitary confinement. The strike maintains its leadership on the inside, as well as wide-spread support on the outside led by prisoners’ loved ones, former prisoners, grassroots organizations, legal workers, and others. On July 8, 2013 more than 30,000 prisoners across the state of California resumed their nonviolent protest of their conditions after California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDC) failed to make good on promises it made after two similar actions in 2011.
As of Monday August 19, 2013 more than 75 individuals in at least 5 prisons had continually refused food since July 8. Reports from facilities such as Corcoran State Prison lead us to believe that the number is likely much higher. Strike supporters have also learned that prisoners at Pelican Bay State prison—and perhaps other facilities—have rejoined the strike in the past week. Whatever the count or form of participation, this protest remains an historic event given that well-known hunger strikes such as that of Bobby Sands in Ireland involved 10 committed prisoners!
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