Victory Is Possible Against All Odds – Nelson Mandela Presente!

Mandela and seven other anti-apartheid leaders leave the Palace of Justice with their fists raised in defiance, June 1964, after being sentenced to life imprisonment.

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.

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Posted in International Solidarity, Presente!

44 years after Fred Hampton’s murder, the struggle continues

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.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Poetry, Police & Prisons

Help the people and communities affected by typhoon Yolanda

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.

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Posted in International Solidarity

“Uh-Oh, Instead of Defeating Us They Made Us Defiant”

Local 1199 members came from New York to be arrested, and at least 1,000 teachers mobilized for the final Monday. Photo: Ajamu Dillahunt.

Local 1199 members came from New York to be arrested, and at least 1,000 teachers mobilized for the final Monday. Photo: Ajamu Dillahunt.

Since April North Carolina has made national and international news with a remarkable social movement that has gathered thousands to protest, with nearly 1,000 arrests for civil disobedience.

The Forward Together Movement, led by the North Carolina NAACP, showed up at the General Assembly in Raleigh for 13 consecutive Mondays while the Republican/Tea Party-controlled legislature was in session.

Although 17 clergy members made up the first wave of arrestees, the activists who formed the backbone of the actions were part of the six-year-old, NAACP-led HKonJ Coalition (Historic Thousands on Jones St.—site of the legislature), which had mobilized thousands to the Capitol every February for a 14-point progressive agenda.

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Posted in Electoral Strategy, Oppressed Nationalities

“Keep Your Dirty Lights On”

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Posted in Ecological Crisis

Stop the Militarization of CUNY in Its Tracks!

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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?”

Whose CUNY?

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.

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Posted in War & Empire

The War Drive Against Syria Has Been Stalled—Let’s Stop It Cold!

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.

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Posted in International Solidarity, NEC Statements

More on California’s prisoner hunger strike

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.

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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Posted in Police & Prisons

Birth justice now! Midwifery and traditional childbirthing in oppressed communities

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“Flame of the Forest: Mother Love” by Jennifer Mourin.

Tamika Middleton and Laura Perez sat down with Michelle Foy to talk about how they are working to bring alternative birthing options to working class communities of color.

Michelle Foy: What is traditional childbirthing and midwifery? Can you speak about histories of midwifery in your families and communities?

Tamika Middleton: Traditional childbearing and childbirthing means different things to different people. The philosophy of midwifery that I use, historically, is the role of the midwife as a facilitator of birth and as a keeper of birth. She was also the keeper of the processes, safety and health of the family in the period surrounding the birth.

In the Black community, midwives were fundamental. Given rampant poverty and going back to the time of enslavement, there was a need to protect the family in order to ensure that we had healthy babies. What you found especially in the South, but other places as well, was Black midwives doing other things, like making sure you have clean clothes, making sure you have food to eat, making sure you have an environment you can birth inside of. Especially working within low-income communities that are least likely to have midwives, working as doulas, we’re doing a lot of that work as well as providing pro-bono services.

In terms of my own family—my grandmother had seven children, all of them were born at home, except my mom who was born in the hospital. My grandmother was very excited to hear that I was having my baby at home with a midwife.

I’m from the Sea Islands, which were isolated from the colonies of South Carolina. In the 1950s bridges were built which connected St. Helena [one of the Sea Islands] to South Carolina. Until then our folks were cut off from those services and midwifery survived much longer as a result, as did a lot of other traditions, specifically African traditions.

Laura Perez: When I think about traditional midwifery and traditional childbirth—I think about woman-centered care. It’s about women as holders of knowledge, about what it means to be a mother, to raise a child, but really what it means to be someone who is responsible for the community. I’m thinking about curanderas and other Latin American traditions. The curanderas were the folks that someone would come to for counsel—either to get pregnant, potentially to end a pregnancy, to have a healthy pregnancy, or to help with the birth and to help afterwards. The curanderas are connected with the family and the mama. What I love about traditional midwifery care is that the origin is holistic. It’s not just about symptoms, and what can I throw at your symptoms, but finding out what’s going on in your life, in your family, where is your happiness, what are your stressors? What is your state of mind, where’s your attention, what are you pleased about your current situation, or do you have anxiety about it? Parteras and curanderas would take that all of that into account to take care of a mama, to be sure that all the pieces are balanced. They were integral people in the community. It wasn’t just about someone who knows how to birth a baby, but how to keep the whole community healthy.

My personal history—my grandmother was not a midwife, but she knew a lot about plantitas, what they do, and what they’re good for. I am working to get that back in my life now. There’s a respect and knowledge about how we work with what we have, what’s in the backyard, what you want to have nearby to address whatever it is that’s going on, something you don’t have to go to the store for.

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Posted in Health Care

Bending Toward Justice: Marching on Washington

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“We have come to the nation’s capital to cash a check……. America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’”

For Whites Only

Martin Luther King, Jr. used those words to explain why the March on Washington was necessary. He – and the quarter million others – did not go all that way to describe a dream. They marched to demand that the nation keep a promise.

That promise enshrined in the Constitution, King reminded us, was the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But in the actions of the US government, history shows that this promise pertained only to white people, particularly whites of the owning class. In 1776, only propertied white men could vote, and the 1790 Naturalization Law declared that only “a free white person” could become a citizen. The DNA of a racist capitalist society is clearly visible at the nation’s birth.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities