Selma (the Movie) vs. the Strategy of Malcolm X

by tacticaldiversity, June 1, 2015

Last month many of us celebrated the 90th birthday of the one of America’s greatest revolutionaries, El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X.  That his birthday follows his assassination date (February 21) on the calendar seems appropriate this year, as Malcolm could be said to be resurrected these days:  from condemnations of US racism at the United Nations, to self-defense against cops in NYC, to Black rifle clubs in Texas, to mass rebellion in Baltimore, to a growing disillusionment with the two-party system and doctrinaire nonviolence in America, he has seldom seemed more relevant.

This is all the more remarkable given that the representation of Malcolm in popular media is more distorted than ever.  2015 opened with the Martin Luther King biopic Selma giving us the most forgettable (perhaps the only forgettable) portrayal of Malcolm X in cinema history.  In some ways, the muting of Malcolm was inevitable; an accurate depiction of the Muslim leader presented a danger of upstaging King in the movie the same way that he often upstaged King in real life.  But that isn’t any excuse for the distortion of Malcolm X’s politics and the role he played in the Black freedom struggle.

In the short scene in which he appears, Malcolm comes literally hat in hand to Coretta Scott King begging to address the protesters and be a part of the movement.  He appears to have arrived uninvited, crashing a party he has no real place in.  As he offers to scare the segregationists with an “alternative” to MLK’s nonviolence, he hints that this is actually just a bluff because his “eyes see in a new way.”  Everything about this scene is fundamentally wrong: Malcolm explained himself to Mrs. King after, not before, he gave his speech—a speech which he was invited to give by the director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Selma Project.1  And when Malcolm spoke of offering an alternative to King’s pacifism, it was anything but a bluff.  Continue reading

The Story Behind the Uprising in Baltimore April 27, 2015

Freddie Gray Laid to Rest, Baltimore Rises Up

Eddie Conway on The Real News Network

May Day 2015 — Dock Workers Walk Out to Protest Police Killings

Workers of All Colors Unite!

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 in the Bay area will use its monthly stop-work meeting on Friday to idle the ports of Oakland and San Francisco to protest recent police killings of African Americans. The executive board and membership of Local 10 aligned its “Union Action to Stop Police Killings of Black and Brown People” with International Workers’ Day, which is celebrated on May 1 in many countries.

May Day in Oakland: ILWU March and Rally Against Police Terror!
STATEMENT TO THE BAY AREA LABOR MOVEMENT
A CALL TO ACTION!
April 22, 2015
The membership of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 has voted at its meeting on April 16, 2015 to call for a stopwork meeting on May 1st. It is fitting that on May Day, International Workers Day, Bay Area ports will be shut down to protest the racist police killing of mainly black and brown people. This is the first U.S. union to take such action. Local 10 took similar action on May Day 2008 to close Pacific Coast ports stopping all work to demand an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the first such anti-war union action in American labor history.

ILWU Local 10 dock workers march in San Francisco on May Day 2008 in the first-ever strike action by U.S. workers against U.S. imperialist war. The work stoppage shut down all 29 West Coast ports demanding an end to the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as support for immigrant rights.

Continue reading

No Justice in Baltimore – No peace in Baltimore

[The Maryland officials blame the riot on “outside agitators” and on “groups of thugs roaming the streets attacking innocent people” — a description which many have applied to the Baltimore police in their recent murder of the innocent black man Freddie Gray — the most recent of a repeated chain of events across the country. — Frontlines ed.]

Baltimore erupts in riots after funeral of man who died in police custody

A man walks past a burning police vehicle, Monday during unrest following the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A man walks past a burning police vehicle, Monday during unrest following the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Ian Simpson, Reuters, April 27, 2015

BALTIMORE – Rioters hurled bricks, looted businesses and set fires in Baltimore on Monday in violence that injured at least seven police officers following the funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died after he was injured in police custody.

The disturbances broke out just a few blocks from the funeral of Freddie Gray and then spread through parts of Baltimore in the most violent U.S. demonstrations since looting in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Continue reading

Book Review: About Black Prison Organizing

[The movement and struggles of prison activists has played a major, even central, role in the social movements in the US.  But it has not often been recognized or embraced by many other activists and movements which, led by liberal reformists and organizations, avoid the injustices and enslavements of the “criminal justice” system.  Prison organizers, political prisoners, and prisoners as a whole have played a huge role in social movements  in the US (and in most countries throughout the world, as seen from Ireland to Palestine, South Africa to India, Peru to China).  But in the US, the role has been magnified by the mass incarceration of millions, whose pathways and influences in an out of prison have multiplied as a result.  This book review traces recent writing on the roots and links of the prison movement. — Frontlines ed].

The Prisoner’s Rebellion at Attica Prison, New York, 1971

A Hidden Legacy of the Civil Rights Era

by JAMES KILGORE, Counterpunch

Dan Berger’s latest volume, Captive Nation, is perfectly timed. In a moment where interest in mass incarceration across the political spectrum is on the rise, sanitized versions of carceral history will doubtless emerge. Berger’s account offers an instant antidote to any such efforts. He warns us we will be negating a long history of righteous rebellions of the oppressed if we opt for quick fix policy packages that do not address the inequalities underlying the rapid growth of incarceration.

Berger’s personal profile as an historian casts him in a unique position to tell his tale. He represents a bridge between the praxis of the 60s and 70s and today’s decarceration campaigners. Back in the day, activists connected to those in prison by striking up extensive correspondence via snail mail and making in person visits. In this age of digital communication, Berger has stepped back in time and used those old “analog” methods to establish relationships with a number of those still incarcerated for their activities in that era, people such as Veronza Bower, Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Muntaqim (also known as Anthony Bottom) and David Gilbert. These relationships were key to Berger’s framing of the stories he tells as well as his analysis.

Prison Intellectual Culture: The Case of George Jackson

Two things particularly struck me as I read Captive Nation. The first was the amazing radical intellectual culture that emerged in prisons during this period, a culture, I should add, that appeared almost totally absent in the federal and state prisons where I resided from 2002-09. Berger’s depictions of the richness of political debate and the eagerness of people inside to connect prison resistance to the Black liberation struggle and other movements of the era, were staggering. The politics of the rebels/revolutionaries Berger describes were not mere legal maneuverings aimed at overturning individual cases or re-doing legislation. Rather, they aimed to depict and contest the political economy and ideological foundations of a “system.”

Continue reading

No Equality in Struggle for Basics

School Board Member Claims Hispanic Kids Don’t Need Air Conditioning

by William Bigelow, 8 Apr 2015
A recording of a school board meeting has gone viral after a Martinez school district school board member was recorded suggesting that a school largely comprised of low-income and Hispanic students could do without air conditioning while another school with mostly white, wealthier students should receive air conditioning.