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  • Queen Mother Moore and the Black Power Generation
  • Komozi Woodard (bio)

For the Black Power generation, Audley "Queen Mother" Moore was one of the most important strategic bridges between the UNIA generation of the 1920s and the Black Power generation of the 1960s. By the 1980s, Queen Mother Moore was also essential in deepening the knowledge of the National Negro Congress of the 1930s and the 1940s. Queen Mother Moore attended all the major Black Power conferences of the 1960s and the 1970s, including the National Black Power Conference after the Newark Rebellion in 1967 and the International Black Power Conference of 1969 that took place in Bermuda amid turbulence in the Caribbean.1 Indeed, Professor Quito Swan suggests that when Stokely Carmichael and other men were blocked by the Anglo-American Empire from attendance at the 1969 summit, the authorities unwittingly allowed Queen Mother Moore through the blockade and she spread Black Power in Bermuda.2

Thinking about Queen Mother Moore may be helpful in the controversy over chronology in the historiography of the Black Revolt. In the debate about the longevity of the Black Revolt, some scholars find it implausible—if not supernatural—that ideological and political threads reached through the generations to link grassroots Garveyism and Black Power. Queen Mother Moore's political legacy combined both continuity and change in that African American paradox of "The Changing Same," which, in the poetic insight of Amiri Baraka, defined the blues ethos and the jazz aesthetic.

Indeed, the remarkable importance of Queen Mother Moore's Pan-Africanism is suggested by the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o. In Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance, Ngugi argues that the memory of the Pan-African struggles for self-emancipation is a strategic response to the racist colonial [End Page 181] stratagem aimed at the intellectual and ideological annihilation and disorientation of African people. In terms of remembering the global self-emancipation project of grassroots Garveyism, Queen Mother Moore stood alongside giants like Malcolm X in "Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia" so that the Black Power generation could navigate its way "home" through a sea of racial oppression.3 Ngugi reminds students that resistance leaders such as Waiyaki wa Hinga of Agikuyu anticolonial lore were captured, removed from their bases of power, and buried alive—in this specific case, "head facing the bowels of the earth—in opposition to the Gikuyu burial rites' requirement that the body face Mount Kenya, the dwelling place of the Supreme Deity."4 Other rebel leaders against the Western empire were decapitated and their heads were placed on display in the British Museum as a message that oppressed peoples cannot win.5 In the black liberation project, "Garveyism and Pan-Africanism are the grandest secular visions for reconnecting the dismembered."6 Indeed, "Re-membering the continent and the diaspora, the core theme of Pan-Africanism in general, was central to Garvey's vision of black people as active players in the world."7 It is also worth mentioning that remembering is also a potent part of healing horrific wounds left by the slave-whipping barbarism of the colonial and imperial program of lynching and genocide.

Queen Mother also sent a clear signal when she initiated the celebration of Malcolm X's birthday in Harlem after his assassination, joining in a theme presented by Shirley Graham Du Bois.8 Queen Mother Moore's march through the streets of Harlem insisted that the Malcolm X sacrifice marked the beginning and not the end of Malcolm's dream of a Black Power generation. The question was whether that generation would forget or remember why his sacrifice was sacred to them.

In remembering Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey, Queen Mother Moore waved the banner of Ethiopia through the 1960's storm of racial tyranny. As the smoke cleared in the aftermath of the July 1967 Newark rebellion, Queen Mother Moore debated Flo Kennedy over the meaning of black self-determination at the National Black Power Conference. In 1969, as the antiimperialist momentum built for the International Black Power Conference in Bermuda, the Anglo-American establishment worried that "the Caribbean was perhaps the most unstable area of...


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pp. 181-185
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