1. For an excellent review of this literature, see Taylor (2011).
2. The exception is the voluminous literature on the Black Arts Movement (e.g., Smethurst, 2005); but this is also mainly historical and rarely linked to African American revolutionary theory.
3. What might appear a glaring omission from this list, for some, is the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during its black power phase. Actually, SNCC’s black power concept as articulated originally by Carmichael and Hamilton was a pluralist modification of King’s integrationism rather than Malcolm’s black nationalist revolutionism. In the original Black Power (1967) there is no reference to Malcolm X or black nationalism (Taylor, 2011). Others might view the absence of the NOI as an omission; however, the NOI may have been “objectively revolutionary” as Baraka (2012) once claimed—and much more so than its Marxist critics were at the time; but other than Malcolm X and his supporters, as an organization, the NOI, did not advocate political revolution in the sense that it is considered herein.
Chapter 1. Malcolm X and the Revolutionary Turn in the Civil Rights Movement
1. Former RNA 2nd vice president Chokwe Lumumba won the mayor’s office in Jackson, Mississippi, in 2014 on a platform reflecting aspects of a modified RNA strategy.
2. Malcolm X (1970, p. 123) proffered this logic on reparations: “If you are the son of a man . . . and you inherit your father’s estate, you have to pay off the debts that your father incurred before he died. The only reason that the present generation of white Americans are in a position of economic strength . . . is because their fathers worked our fathers for over 400 years with no pay. . . . Your father isn’t here to pay. My father isn’t here to collect. But I’m here to collect and you’re here to pay.”
3. In a recording of MTTG, the voice of future LRBW leader General Baker, is heard responding from the audience, “We’ll bleed!” to Malcolm’s rhetorical challenge, generating Malcolm’s repetition of the charge.
4. Moses refers to a prior “proto-nationalist” era as well.
5. Woodard (1999, p. 123) notes that after leaving the NOI, “Malcolm X eventually abandoned notions of gender exclusion”; in fact, Malcolm argued that “the Black Revolution pivoted on the political consciousness and social development of women.” In the OAAU, he “encouraged the leadership of Lynn Shifflet and Sarah Mitchell” and “sought to recruit Maya Angelou from Ghana.”
6. Following defeat of the segregationist Republican Barry Goldwater by the Democrat Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election, the Dixiecrats began a shift to the Republican Party, which was completed by the Reagan Era, creating a new home for segregationists and their apologists in the Republican Party—the party of Lincoln—which remains today.
7. The BPP advocated a similar UN petition strategy, as did the RNA.
8. Malcolm’s allusion to support from “800 million” Chinese “waiting to throw their weight on our side” in the UN ignores that Mao’s People’s Republic of China was not a member of the UN at the time. China’s seat was held at the time by U.S. ally, Taiwan, led by Chang Kai-shek.
9. Where the South openly oppressed Negroes attempting to vote, Malcolm noted that the North was simply shrewder in suppressing the black vote; and the key to the latter was gerrymandering.
10. In TBR of April 1964 in Detroit, he stated: “America is in a unique position. She is the only country in history in a position actually to become involved in a bloodless revolution” (original emphasis).
11. Malcolm implied as much in MTTG in reference to the dispute between Khrushchev and Mao, which he implied was instigated by the persistence of Russia’s “white nationalism” in the USSR.
12. Malcolm asserted that “we need new ideas, new methods, new approaches. We will call upon young students of political science throughout the nation to help us. We will encourage these young students to launch their own independent study and give us their analysis and their suggestions.”
13. While federal and local police forces were responsible for fomenting dissent in the NOI, the NOI leadership and its members carried out the assassination, introducing internal terrorism to the BPM.
14. I’ve referred to this previously as one of the “unintended consequences” of Malcolm’s cosmopolitanism (Henderson, 2018a).
15. Notably, Hechter (1975) applied the concept of internal colonialism to Ireland.
16. It would not be ignored by important black feminists, such as Audre Lorde.
Chapter 2. Black Nationalism
1. On black feminists and emigrationism, Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1892b, p. 40) argued that “the right of those who wish to go to Africa should be as inviolate as that of those who wish to stay.”
2. Another misrepresentation of black nationalism by prominent scholars is Dawson’s (2001, p. 21) claim that “Black nationalism is the second oldest (after radical egalitarianism) ideological tendency within black political thought.” Such an ahistorical view of black nationalism is so pervasive that he privileges “radical egalitarianism” as the earliest black American political ideology against the evidence that black nationalism is the original black American ideology—its roots tracing back to the 1700s; it is not derivative of other nationalisms, but is contemporaneous with French and American nationalism. Such ahistorical views more accurately gauge the difficulty of antinationalists such as Dawson in reconciling that historical reality with their own ideological preferences (see Taylor, 2011).
3. Moses (1989, p. 239) insists that “[t]here were no black nineteenth-century leaders who spent much time discussing the positive aspects of slavery, and many years would pass before it would become fashionable to promote the mythology of a healthy slave community.” To be fair to Stuckey’s perspective, an acknowledgment of “slave culture” is not an assertion that slave communities were “healthy” or that they were not sites of inhumane oppression.
4. While acknowledging that the view that black religion is foundational to the black nation is “reasonable enough,” Moses (1990, p. 28) asserts that “there has never been any systematic demonstration of ties between black religion and black nationalism.”
5. See Taylor (2011, pp. 195–202) for critiques of this strain of anti–black nationalist scholarship.
6. Moses (1998) notes that Du Bois appears to have first employed the term Afrocentric in 1961.
7. While these notions seem congruent with Garvey’s, Du Bois viewed much of Garvey’s program as retrogressive and escapist.
8. The quote from Fanon (1963, pp. 312, 315) is: “We today can do everything, so long as we do not imitate Europe, so long as we are not obsessed by the desire to catch up with Europe. . . . So comrades, let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institutions, and societies which draw upon inspiration from her. Humanity is waiting for something from us other than such an imitation, which would be almost an obscene caricature.”
9. It also borrowed from Paul Robeson’s emphasis on African culture.
10. Arguably, there were some elements of civilizationism in Du Bois’s (1897, p. 10) “Conservation of Races” in which he suggested the vanguard role of “the 8,000,000 people of Negro blood” in the United States, whom he characterizes as “the advance guard of the Negro people” (emphasis added).
Chapter 3. The General Strike and the Slave Revolution of the U.S. Civil War
1. Among the most prominent exceptions are Robinson (1983) and Roediger (2014).
2. He added: “Yet one would search current American histories almost in vain to find a clear statement or even faint recognition of these perfectly well-authenticated facts” (p. 717).
3. Among the most notable were Powhatan Beaty, a former slave, who took command of his company at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm after its officers had been killed and/or wounded and led a charge against Confederate lines, driving the Confederates from their fortified positions.
4. The point is as much stylistic as substantive given the actual context of Marx’s oft-cited, though poorly contextualized quote, which is less dismissive of religious motivations than is often assumed: “The wretchedness of religion is at once an expression of and a protest against real wretchedness. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” (Marx, 1982, p. 131). The interpretation of the metaphor in its context has received much less attention.
5. Genovese (1981, pp. 4–5) notes that “[b]y the end of the eighteenth century the historical content of the slave revolts shifted decisively from attempts to secure freedom from slavery to attempts to overthrow slavery as a social system,” with the Haitian Revolution “mark[ing] the turning point,” and “[t]he nineteenth century revolts in the Old South formed part of this epoch-making transformation.” Specifically, “the black demand for the abolition of slavery as a social system was something new and epoch-making” (p. xx).
6. McPherson (1991, p. 35) argues that the “enlistment of black soldiers to fight and kill their former masters” impelled Lincoln to change his initial war aims to “the revolutionary goal of a new Union without slavery” (p. 34).
7. Jackson (2019) provides indirect support for Du Bois’ claim in her analysis of the positive uses of force and violence among black abolitionists. In Franklin’s (1992, pp. 30–31) view, “For Du Bois, the value of freedom, like self-determination, reached the Afro-American masses through a ‘trickle-down process’ from the free blacks.”
8. Du Bois’s ambivalence is evident in Black Reconstruction when after evoking slaves’ agency in the General Strike, near the end of the book he emphasizes black religion’s otherworldliness and resignation: “a religion which taught meekness, sacrifice and humility” (pp. 692–693), similar to his portrayal of astonished bewildered slaves in Souls.
9. Du Bois was aware of these connections, but at the time of his writing Black Reconstruction he was much less positively inclined toward black religion as a change agent.
10. Starobin (1970, p. 89) notes several revolts and conspiracies involving industrial slaves after 1831, and while some may have been exaggerated by whites, actual cases such as the slave conspiracy in 1856 was “especially significant, since it involved industrial slaves almost exclusively.”
11. Sidbury (1997, p. 88) rejects the claims that the revolt was rooted in “artisanal republicanism.”
12. On whether Gabriel was hired out, contrast Egerton (1993, pp. 24–25) and Sidbury (1997, p. 83).
13. After escaping from Richmond, Gabriel was helped by a white boat captain and betrayed by a hired-out slave artisan. Gabriel and more than thirty conspirators were hanged. In the aftermath, the legislature restricted slave hiring and limited the residency and movement of free blacks.
14. Several authors—most prominently Johnson (2001)—have argued that the Vesey conspiracy was a fabrication of white politicians; but this claim has been challenged, most convincingly, by Spady (2011).
15. A similar argument is made by Raboteau (1980, p. 163).
16. Ironically, the key informant, George Wilson, was a blacksmith, a class leader in the AME church, and a founding member of the church (Pearson, 1999; Robertson, 1999).
17. Oates (1975, p. 161) argues that “[t]hose who describe Nat as a skilled slave are wrong. In 1822, Nat was valued at $400—the price of a good field hand. During his trial for insurrection, he was valued at only $375. By contrast a slave blacksmith also tried for the rebellion was valued at $675. . . . Nat mentions nothing in the Confessions about ever being a skilled slave; rather, he refers to himself as a field hand at work behind his plow” (p. 38).
18. Similar laws were enacted across slaveholding states, contributing to vast illiteracy among slaves, such that most slaves freed by the Civil War were illiterate.
19. Among the hired-out slave artisans in the interstices between slavery and industrial society, were also those who would become members of the postbellum black petit bourgeoisie. Along with Southern free blacks, this contingent of slave artisans was no less compelled by an ideology rooted in slave religion, and had chosen revolution as well. Thus, there was likely a dual movement within incipient black working-class consciousness compelling proletarianization as well as petit bourgeosification, with both groups, during the Civil War, centered on pursuing black revolution to secure their freedom.
20. One might conjecture that if the temporal span of Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction were broader, beginning in 1830, the year prior to the Turner Rebellion, instead of 1860, he might have made these connections more prominently, especially if he were able to draw from the research in his planned biography of Turner for Black Reconstruction, which might have led him to integrate at least a more militant form of “slave religion” into his broader thesis of black political revolution in the Civil War.
21. On networks, skilled labor, slave hiring, and religion, see Schermerhorn (2011).
22. For a useful synthesis of discussions on enslaved artisan workers and networks of communication, see Buchanan (2004).
23. The more formal clandestine networks, such as Webb describes, culminated in the Underground Railroad, which by the 1850s “had developed into a diverse, flexible, and interlocking system with thousands of activists residing from the upper South to Canada” (Bordewich, 2005, p. 5).
24. Although the commitment of the Founders to slavery and white supremacy is apparent (Hunt, 1987), the secessionists of the CSA also found inspiration in the commentary of Madison and especially Jefferson on the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 with regard to their supportive implications for interposition and nullification (Moses 2019).
25. Conceived more broadly, the processes that compelled the incipient proletarianism of hired-out slaves, for example, the worker’s degree of independence coupled with a radical formulation of religion, might also have contributed to the development of an incipient—and progressive—petite bourgeoisie as well (see footnote 19).
26. This was mainly an option of white ethnic groups and among racial minority communities, mainly available to LatinX, Asian Americans, and Amerindians/Native Americans.
27. Many of the major BPM organizations either rejected Christianity, conceptually, or the Black Church as an organizational or mobilizational focus, with the major exception of the PAOCC.
Chapter 4. Cultural Revolution and Cultural Evolution
1. To Du Bois’s thesis I added the role of slave hiring, inducing an incipient working-class consciousness.
2. On the pendulum shifts of nationalism and integrationism, see Cruse (1967); and a test of Cruse’s thesis in Henderson (2000).
3. Marx’s is among the most popular conceptions of economic revolution, as are Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Rise of Capitalism and Polanyi’s The Great Transformation.
4. An ironic aftermath of the GPCR’s persecution of “capitalist roaders” was Mao’s rapprochement with the world’s leading capitalist power, the United States, and his meeting with Richard Nixon in Beijing in 1972.
5. Deng incorporated market reforms that stimulated economic growth, reformed the educational system to promote skill sectors to develop the country’s technological capacity, and provided a modicum of liberalization in domestic politics, which did not preclude centralized repression. Liu died in 1969 under house arrest and was subsequently rehabilitated by Deng and accorded a state funeral in 1980.
6. For further discussion of prolekult, see Mally (1990).
7. Prominent filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was associated with the Prolecult Theatre.
8. Victor Serge, who witnessed the Russian Revolution, noted that young Soviet writers appeared to be “obstructed rather than assisted by doctrine” and “permanently tormented by a concern for orthodoxy” (Birchall, 2000, p. 83). He argued that proletarian literature often was simply not good, and he contrasted the rigid mechanistic prolekult literature with French proletarian literature (p. 85).
9. Unless otherwise noted, references from Lenin are accessed through the Lenin Internet Archive (1999, 2000, 2002).
10. For a Gramscian analysis of cultural revolution in the post-1960s United States, see Epstein (1991).
11. Simms (2000, p. 188) argues that “the Black church of South Africa . . . has a great potential for contributing to a cultural revolution,” thus broadening Gramscianism to accommodate a progressive role for the black church in cultural revolution. For a contrasting view, see Billings (1990).
12. Wells Barnett’s survey research on lynching may be viewed as laying the basis for modern sociological analyses that rest on fieldwork, interviewing techniques, and interpretive analysis that she utilized, even prior to Du Bois’s (1899) seminal work, which established modern systematic sociology including use of quantitative methods.
13. Parsons likely was born enslaved (see Jones, 2017).
14. For example, Wells Barnett could not secure support of her own or any other black church in Chicago for a public meeting place for her efforts to respond to a lynching in Illinois in 1908.
15. For example, see his “Crusader Without Violence” (1959). Du Bois was prescient in recognizing the weakness of the CRM in its failure to provide a parallel economic program to address the needs of blacks, although he was unremitting in his praise of the courage of King and his followers.
16. Some of his feminist works include “The Burden of Black Womanhood,” “The Black Mother,” “Hail Columbia,” “Woman Suffrage,” and “The Damnation of Women.”
17. On the latter point, see Du Bois’s (1935, pp. 698–700) discussion of the use of crime as a source of income for Southern states through the convict lease system. Also see Blackmon (2008). On the role of terrorism in the reimposition of the slavocracy, see Wade (1987), especially pp. 9–116.
18. There is some dispute as to whether Wells Barnett was to be a member of the NAACP’s governing board, the Committee of Forty. She was convinced of the connivance of Mary White Ovington in her exclusion (Giddings, 2008, pp. 477–480; Wells Barnett, 1970, pp. 321–329); and her name was eventually appended to the list (also see Lewis, 1993, pp. 394–399).
19. For an assessment of the elitism in the black feminism of the NACW, see Moses (1978).
20. Although The Negro and Social Reconstruction was published posthumously—a decade after the BPM, its main arguments were popularly known during the 1930s and 1940s because Du Bois had published them in two articles in the January and March 1934 volumes of Crisis: “Segregation” and “Separation and Self-Respect,” respectively. He expanded on them in his 1940 autobiography Dusk of Dawn, which had sections lifted from The Negro and Social Reconstruction, and his Current History article, “A Negro Nation Within a Nation.”
21. Du Bois (1991, p. 197) argued that his program could “easily be mistaken for a program of complete racial segregation and even nationalism among Negroes,” but, “[t]his is a misapprehension.” A few pages later, he uses the same language that he had disparaged: “Instead of letting this segregation remain largely a matter of chance and unplanned development . . . it would make the segregation a matter of careful thought and intelligent planning on the part of Negroes” (pp. 199–200).
22. Moses (1998) reports that Du Bois first used the term Afrocentric in 1961—almost two decades prior to Asante’s (1980) more popular usage. Incredibly, and without evidence, Asante (1988, p. 16) insisted that Du Bois was not Afrocentric, but given the range of logical, historical, and empirical errors in Asante’s work, such a mischaracterization is not surprising (see Henderson, 1995, pp. 85–90).
23. Although Du Bois (1915) was published prior to Lenin’s more famous pamphlet, it is rarely anthologized in contemporary International Relations textbooks or readers (see Henderson, 2013b).
24. It is not clear that the increased salience of the Black Church in the CRM led him to reconsider his view of it as a change agent. It was during the CRM that he joined the Communist Party.
25. He observed a special role for youth in this process (pp. 510, 514); and presciently noted: “Just as soon as true art emerges, just as soon as the black artist appears, someone touches the race on the shoulder and says, ‘He did that because he was an American, not because he was a Negro’ ” (p. 515).
26. Du Bois had declared himself “a socialist of the path” as early as 1907.
Chapter 5. Theorizing Cultural Revolution in the Black Power Era
1. Cruse lamented that the “long awaited” and “long overdue” book of Locke’s writings by Butcher (1956) “greatly disappointed because it did not answer the question [whether Negroes should develop and uphold an Afro-American or an Anglo-American culture] at all” (Cruse, 1968, p. 49).
2. Cruse’s thesis is similar to the Situationist perspective emerging contemporaneously in France, such as Guy Debord’s (1967) The Society of the Spectacle, which was influential in the general strike in Paris of 1968.
3. That Cruse theorized the centrality of democratizing the cultural apparatus well before the blaxploitation film era and the creation of hip-hop is testament to his grounding in black cultural politics. It is ironic that in the hip-hop era, many of the same critics of Cruse’s thesis admonish rap artists for not helping to develop an independent base for black politics and culture.
4. Black millionaire C. J. Walker’s support for the Garvey Movement, and black banker A. C. Gaston’s support for the CRM are noted examples of black petit bourgeois support of black activism.
5. In 1982, in Manifesto for an American Revolutionary Party, Boggs asserted that “no one race, no one class, no one sex” in the United States “is automatically revolutionary,” and “individuals in all these groups have the potential for being counter-revolutionary as well as revolutionary” (pp. 40–41).
6. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge demonstrated horrifically that revolutionary activity does not necessarily generate a revolutionary culture in a progressive sense; instead, it might create reactionary and genocidal culture, as evident in the killing fields of Cambodia or the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution.
7. In the subsequent decades, the Boggses clung to the view that a vanguard was necessary for revolution in the United States and alternated privileging “outsiders” and school-aged dropouts they called “opt-outs.” A teleological rigidity bound them to nondialectical rationales enjoining a continual search for a vanguard to lead a revolution they prophesized and awaited with millenarian earnest. Viewing revolution as both means and end—instrument and objective—what was lost in their analyses is that revolution is not the objective of political struggle but simply a means to social justice.
8. Although Boggs was clearly familiar with and encouraged the study of Du Bois’s works and often traced black labor history to the slave revolts and invoked the General Strike, he had difficulty integrating the cultural aspects of these phenomena into his broader thesis. As a result, unlike Du Bois’s exposition of the role of black cultural transformation in the slaves’ prosecution of the General Strike, Boggs’s (1963) analysis of the Civil War in The American Revolution is bereft of a sense of black cultural agency in the war, conflating issues of race and nation under a single rubric of class struggle (pp. 75–77).
9. Only shortly before her death a half century later—often in conversation with this author—did Grace Boggs begin to suggest the utility of cultural revolution in the United States both as an analytical device and sociopolitical objective; but one she still tethered to a neo-Marxist teleology embracing autonomist theorists such as Castoriadis rather than Du Bois, Locke, or Cruse.
10. Critics even two decades apart, such as Perkins (1977) and Smith (1999), and up to the present, continue to ignore Cruse’s engagement of the issue of privileging Harlem in the follow-on essays of 1971 (Cruse, 1971abc). Many otherwise substantive crtiques of Cruse’s thesis typically redounded to the oft-repeated neo-Marxist claim that cultural and racial factors were epiphenomena of class, while ignoring that Cruse’s original thesis of black cultural revolution was intended to revolutionize an existing movement, the CRM, and not to pose a universal thesis of revolutionary change.
11. On the Nadir, see Logan (1954). For a review of “renaissances” outside of Harlem, see Moses (1990, pp. 201–222) on the renaissance in Washington, D.C., beginning in the 1890s, decades before Harlem’s of the 1920s; Clark Hine and McCluskey (2012) on Chicago’s a decade later; Whitaker’s (2018) focus on Pittsburgh; and Glasrud and Wintz’s (2012) discussion of black renaissances from Kansas City to the Bay Area.
12. Cruse disparaged what he viewed as ill-conceived “internationalist” and pan-Africanist rhetoric of the NBPA that detracted from domestic issues and led to needless internecine disputes that undermined the NBPA and contributed to its collapse.
13. Frances Beal of SNCC and the Third World Women’s Alliance provided important discussions of black womens’ agency in the CRM and BPM as well as incisive critiques of sexism such as her seminal 1969 pamphlet “Double Jepoardy: To be Black and Female.” Grace Lee also contributed an essay to the important work The Black Woman, which also published a revised version of Beal’s (1970) essay, and was edited by Toni Cade Bambara. The Boggses (1974) provided a trenchant critique of sexism and the necessity of overturning it as an essential element of revolution in the United States.
14. Cruse discusses BARTS in Crisis; also, see Goose’s (2004), especially his discussion of Yuri Kochiyama’s notes from Cruse’s course in “Cultural Philosophy” at the school.
Chapter 6. Revolutionary Action Movement, Us, the Black Panther Party
1. RAM was more a “low profile”—to use Ernest Allen’s term—than an underground organization.
2. Vitalis (2013) provides a critical assessment of this rather common but misleading association of Bandung with the nonaligned movement and a broader fusion of antiracism in a kind of Third Worldism/or third world internationalism. Also see Kahin (1956).
3. This was owed to RAM’s favoring Mao in the “Sino-Soviet Split”; and RAM’s rejection of the USSR’s “peaceful coexistence” with the capitalist West (see World Black Revolution, pp. 12–13).
4. RAM’s twelve-point program would be modified somewhat from its original 1964 version through the 1969 decimation of the organization, but mainly as a reflection of changing emphasis rather than broader theoretic and programmatic orientations.
5. Ahmad (2007, 112) and conversations with Muhammad Ahmad. This is also evident from the reading lists in the earliest editions of RAM’s Black America and Revolutionary Nationalist.
6. Vesey’s revolt sought coordination with President Boyer of Haiti, not Toussaint L’Ouverture.
7. The Turner revolt did not involve hundreds of slaves (see Greenberg, 2003; Henderson, 2015, pp. 205–207).
8. Stanford argued that “[a]ll AfroAmericans must begin to think like guerilla fighters” (p. 1).
9. Following the BPM, Stanford (1986, p. 199) noted a “major flaw” in RAM’s “inability to perceive, until 1968, that the nature of the black liberation struggle in the United States would be protracted. Had the leadership of RAM understood protracted warfare, it would never had projected the theory of a ‘90-day’ war of liberation.” By no later than 1967, Williams (1967, p. 15) situated the “90 days” in a protracted framework, arguing that only after “[a] few years of violent, sporadic and highly destructive uprisings” would the stage be “properly set, through protracted struggle” and “America could be brought to her knees in 90 days of highly organized fierce fighting, sabotage and a massive firestorm.”
10. The persistence of such misunderstandings well after the end of the BPM is apparent in Stanford’s (1986, p. 72) reporting of Williams’s praise of Giap’s prosecution of Tet, citing this as support for a similar strategy in the BPM. While Tet was a propaganda victory for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) it was a military defeat—a strategic and tactical miscalculation of the NVA, which Giap may have opposed (Pribbenow, 2008). It failed because it violated the principle of mass, underestimated U.S. ability to deploy forces across an extended front, and failed to generate the uprisings in the South that it sought. Tet decimated the NLF’s fighting capacity in the South that it had spent decades building, yet BPM revolutionists perpetuate a view of Tet as a military rather than a political victory.
11. Williams’s argument—adopted by RAM—that the proximity of blacks to whites in the United States was an impediment to whites employing their most destructive weapons against black revolutionaries is as accurate as it is irrelevant. Blacks, as a racial minority, are easily differentiated from whites and isolated, and their concentration in the Black Belt made this even less difficult.
12. RAM made specific pleas to black troops in Vietnam, such as in its 1965 “Message from RAM (Revolutionary Action Movement) the Black Liberation Front of the U.S.A. to Afro-Americans in the United States Racist Imperialist Army” (Stanford, 1986, 212).
13. Brown (2003) capitalizes “Us,” as “US.”
14. In the SNCC newspaper The Movement, Terence Cannon (1966, p. 2) reports from an evening patrolling with the CAP on July 1, 1966, in South Central Los Angeles that the lead car had affixed to its bumper “a black panther with the slogan ‘We’re the Greatest.’ ” This was almost a year after the CAP began, yet still before the BPP was founded in Oakland in October 1966.
15. While admonishing “protest” art, Neal (1989, 64) viewed “the motive behind the black aesthetic” as “destruction of the white thing . . . white ideas, and white ways of looking at the world.”
16. There are other contradictions between Fanon’s and Karenga’s arguments. I’m focusing on examples from Karenga’s early formulations of kawaida and Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth.
17. Mazrui (1986, p. 14) notes that the colonial period was so brief that “[w]hen Jomo Kenyatta was born, Kenya was not yet a crown colony”; yet he “lived right through the period of British rule and outlasted British rule by fifteen years.” He asks, “[i]f the entire period of colonialism could be compressed into the life span of a single individual, how deep was the impact?” (p. 14). In contrast, slavery was hardly episodic—it was clearly epic, in Mazrui’s terms—its impact was not only enduring but defining. The presence of conflicting views on the impact of African colonialism as compared to American slavery suggests another divergence of the African and American contexts.
18. For Bunche (1941, p. 63), the importance of irua to Gikuyu is not only circumcision, “but the entire process of initiation and teaching” that is the basis of “important age-groups.” They view “any effort to modify [irua] as a vital attack upon the foundations of their society” that “would bring about the collapse of the age-group structure and hence of the social stability of the tribe.”
19. Kenyan Luo, the group from which Barack Obama is descended, do not practice circumcision.
20. Malinowski, who wrote the introduction to Facing Mount Kenya, “was as scathing of Nordic supremacist theories as he was of ideas of race equality,” and his 1931 “A Plea for an Effective Colour Bar” rationalized support for the “colour bar” (Furedi, 1998, p. 93).
21. Ranger subsequently modified some of these claims, but others, such as Berman and Mamdani, would make arguments consistent with Ranger’s earlier insights.
22. Probably the best brief treatment of the UCLA shootout is in Brown (2002, pp. 91–99).
23. Given that the internal calendar of Us projected 1971 as the Year of the Guerrillas (Brown, 2003, p. 90) and suggested major uprisings throughout the United States in that year, it is unlikely Karenga appreciated the time and effort needed to organize the uprisings the BPM revolutionists envisioned.
24. On The Lumpen, see Vincent (2013); also, Elaine Brown recorded a musical album with Motown entitled Elaine Brown: Until We’re Free.
25. The final point (# 10) of the original BPP platform of 1966 advocates, “as our major political objective, a United Nations-supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the black colony.”
26. See Huey Newton’s “To the Republic of New Africa: September 13, 1969,” in Newton (1995).
27. Brown (2003, p. 114) adds that this view permeated the party and is reflected in the BPP’s “most elaborate statement on the subject by Linda Harrison entitled ‘On Cultural Nationalism.’ ”
28. According to Kathleen Cleaver (2001, p. 125), Matilaba (aka Tarika Lewis), one of the earliest women members of the BPP, also published drawings in the BPP newspaper along with Douglas. Teemer (aka Akinsanya Kambon) was another prominent BPP artist.
29. Bukhari (2010, p. 56) concludes: “Thus, there were three basic evils that had to be confronted: male chauvinism, female passivity, and ultrafemininity (the ‘I’m only a woman’ syndrome).”
30. These changes were motivated not only by Brown’s superficial and often selective feminism but by the Party’s turn to local electoral politics and the decorum that participation in such a forum necessitates.
31. In this practice, the BPP was not unlike other leftist organizations such as the major white leftist organization, SDS (see Barber, 2008).
32. Alkebulan (2007, 123) notes that the Son of Man Temple was the BPP’s “church in Oakland,” “a place of worship” intended to show “how a church should be involved in the community.” It sponsored survival programs and was a forum for community organizers and speakers (p. 123).
33. Huey Newton (1995, pp. 105–106) stated that “[w]e now see the Black capitalist as having a similar relationship to the Black community as the national (native) bourgeoisie have to the people in national wars of decolonization,” which is similar to the claims of both Cruse and Haywood (among others).
34. Unlike that in the BPP, SDS’ lumpenism was motivated by its white revolutionists’ privileged view of their “role” in the movements of the 1960s, which led the group to bestow leadership on itself and vanguardism on its preferred black group(s) (declaring that it was the BPP), its advocacy of wanton and fruitless violence by its white members, which often led to brutal recriminations by police on blacks such as resulted from the “Days of Rage” in Chicago, which led to police reprisals against Chicago’s black communities after the white radicals left town, scorching the political climate prior to the police murder of Illinois BPP leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. SDS’ internecine conflicts on the issue of its use of violence resulted in its members blowing themselves up in the detonation of their “bomb factory” in New York, which killed Diane Oughtton, Terry Robbins, and Ted Gold. Upon transforming into the Weathermen/Weather Underground, Bernadine Dohrn endorsed Charles Manson’s white racist-inspired attack of “pigs” in the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders. Sexism, epitomized in the policies and statements of leaders such as Mark Rudd, was rampant in the group as well (see Barber, 2008).
35. Notwithstanding prominent individual examples such as Bob Zellner and Marilyn Buck.
36. Assata Shakur (1987, p. 267) asserts that “without a truly internationalist component nationalism was reactionary,” but this is ahistorical with respect to the development of black nationalism in the United States since it has had an “international” component from its inception, as outlined in chapter 2.
37. Fila-Bakabadio (2018) demonstrates that Cleaver’s understanding of Congolese politics was grossly uninformed and his thesis on the convergence of Congolese Marxism and the BPP’s revolutionism largely incorrect.
38. On the typology of gangs, see Henderson & Leng (1999) and Taylor (1990, 1993).
39. For a discussion of the impact of violence in the BPP, see Curtis Austin (2006).
40. Forbes (2006) admitted to attempted murder of the witness to Newton’s killing of Smith. Elaine Brown characterized Forbes’s book containing his admission as “unadulterated truth” (p. xi).
41. In a recent popular culture example, if we compare the invective directed at the gangsta rap group NWA’s release of “Fuck Tha Police” in 1988—even by activists—to the much greater receptivity for the song among activists in the context of #BLM decades later, one can appreciate Locke’s contention regarding transvaluation and transposition of values.
42. This analysis focuses on activist black nationalist groups of the BPM, so it doesn’t include non-activist groups of the era such as the NOI.
Chapter 7. Republic of New Africa, League of Revolutionary Black Workers
1. Karenga suggested the name “Imadi” to Richard, who confused the “d” sound in Swahili with an “r.” He preferred “Imari” to “Imadi,” and retained it as his name for the rest of his life.
2. New Africans emphasize collectives over individuals; so they capitalize the “w” in “We” and use a lowercase “i” for the personal pronoun, I.
3. Obadele notes that “Section Five says: The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article” (p. 28).
4. This policy was not a result of Karenga’s influence directly, since he had been removed from his post as Minister of Culture in the aftermath of the UCLA shootout, and probably didn’t result from Baraka either since CAP had rejected many of the sexist “traditions” associated with kawaida.
5. His son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, eventually succeeded him as mayor of Jackson.
6. For a recent example, Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, reportedly was associated with the MXGM.
7. In Detroit, Rosa Parks aligned with black nationalists. She praised Malcolm X, supported the FNP, and, following the Detroit Rebellion, worked with the RNA and the LRBW on issues of police brutality, serving on the people’s tribunal investigating the police murders at the Algiers Motel (see Hersey, 1968). She worked to free political prisoners Joan Little and Gary Tyler well after the BPM.
8. The Detroit Rebellion resulted in forty-three dead, more than one thousand injured, over seven thousand arrests, and over two thousand buildings destroyed (Sugrue, 1996).
9. None of the white Detroit policemen (Ronald August, Robert Paille, David Senak) or the white Michigan National Guardsmen (Mortimer J. LeBlanc) were convicted of these killings—even those who admitted killing their black victim(s).
10. Georgakas (2002) notes that “[w]ith one exception, the first Dodge wildcat strike was not reported nationally. The exception was the Wall Street Journal.”
11. Some LRBW members maintain that if the ELRUM strike had lasted another day that it would have shut down Chrysler’s car production, since Eldon was its only axle plant in the United States.
12. The League initially published a newsletter, The Spear, but ICV became its official newspaper.
13. Cockrel remained widely popular after the League folded; he was elected to the city council and was the heir apparent to Mayor Coleman Young before his untimely death in 1989.
14. For example, after CBS reporter Joe Weaver refused to leave Watson’s office after being denied an interview, he claimed he’d been accosted. His bogus charges were thrown out of court (Georgakas & Surkin, 1975).
15. One might argue that intellectuals are more likely to be petite bourgeoisie and workers proletarian, but this is still a procrustean fit to the reality of black Detroiters during the BPM.
16. The key is full-time work because managers colluded with the white unions to schedule the hiring and firing of black workers so that they would not secure the benefits of full-time employment.
17. Conversations with the author.
18. Conversations with the author.
19. James and Grace Lee Boggs’s (1974) analysis of twentieth-century revolutions provided the kind of accessible intellectual presentation and synthesis that was often missing from BPM discourse.
20. The LRBW would need to suppress the atheism of Marxism to organize Southern blacks.
21. Since the Vietnam War had undermined popular support for the U.S. military, even the aging Eisenhower might not have been able to play such a role; regardless, he died in March 1969.
22. Operation Dixie was the failed CIO campaign to unionize the South from 1946 to 1953, which targeted twelve Southern states, focusing mainly on the textile industry; but after outlays of one million dollars and the deployment of more than two hundred organizers, it could not overcome the racism of Southern white workers, even though unionization promised to increase their wages, or that of white business owners and law enforcement, who were committed to the maintenance of Jim Crow and the cheap labor supply that it ensured. The passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, competition from the AFL, red baiting, and the rise of the Dixiecrats also contributed to its defeat (see Griffith, 1988).
Chapter 8. CAP, Shrine of the Black Madonna/Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church
1. Cruse discusses BARTS in Crisis. For another perspective, see Goose (2004), especially his discussion of Yuri Kochiyama’s notes from Cruse’s course in “Cultural Philosophy” at the school.
2. Baraka (1984, 255) drew on Cabral to explain: “Cabral . . . said that the African petty bourgeoisie, because they were too often exposed only to the master’s culture and history, when they become radicalized want to identify with things African as much as possible. This was . . . my problem and Karenga’s US was a perfect vehicle for working out the guilt of the overintegrated” (p. 255).
3. Woodard (1999) suggests that in addressing these issues that Baraka “modernized” black nationalism, but this is misleading. Baraka was institutionalizing aspects of Malcolm’s Charter of the OAAU.
4. The presidential election of 1964 was a realigning election which saw a majority of blacks vote Democratic, following Johnson’s support of civil rights legislation, while more Southern whites voted Republican, following the white supremacist Goldwater, who opposed major civil rights legislation. Nixon would successfully appeal to the latter in his Southern strategy of 1968—made difficult by Wallace’s third party candidacy—and even more so in 1972.
5. These represented the Congressional BEOs—except Senator Edward Brooke (R-Mass.), who did not join the CBC—the number of BEOs at the state, county, and municipal levels was about 1,500 at the CBC’s founding. No less influential were black mayors of major cities, such as Cleveland’s Carl Stokes, Detroit’s Coleman Young, Atlanta’s Maynard Jackson, and Los Angeles’s Tom Bradley.
6. The language of both proposals would be changed by the steering committee, but the “compromise language” received less press attention than the initial language (Smith, 1996, pp. 49–50).
7. Even issues such as women’s reproductive rights found splits among blacks who viewed it not only in terms of women’s rights but as promoting reductions in black births. During the NBPA, Smith (1996, p. 302) notes that “Yvonne Day, Chair of Gary’s Committee on the Status of Women sought to have the convention go on record in favor of legalization of abortion. It never came to [a] vote” because “the male leadership (including Jesse Jackson)” “roundly condemned” it “as genocide.”
8. Smith (1996: pp. 70–71) casts greater blame on Baraka for the failure of the NBPA:
To the extent that this project had any chance to beat the historical odds and endure it was destroyed by the leadership role of Baraka. His authoritarian style of leadership, his taste for rhetorical excess and bombast and his proclivity for ideological oscillation doomed the project from the outset. How could it survive the adoption, by the principal proponent of unity without uniformity, a rigidly exclusive and dogmatic ideology such as scientific socialism. . . . This thoroughly utopian ideology predictably would foreclose any possibility of unity with the black establishment but also with large parts of the nationalist community as well. And the very abruptness of this ideological flip-flop suggests a utopian mind-set manifestly unsuited for leadership of all but the most sectarian groups.
9. In 1968, Mao stated that “[t]he Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for”; and that “[r]acial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction.”
10. Given its controversial positions on the issue of black self-determination in the aftermath of black urbanization, as well as its rightist position on the busing crisis in Boston (RU argued that the issue in the crisis was busing not racism), the radical group had been charged with varying degrees of “white chauvinism” and racism by other leftists (see Elbaum, 2002, pp. 186–189). The group became the Revolutionary Communist Party, which split in 1978, and its leader, Bob Avakian, went into exile.
11. If black power could be labeled conservative given Nixon’s advocacy or cooptation of black power as black capitalism, as some Marxists argued, then what did it say about Maoism that Mao sought and achieved an accommodation with Nixon? Just as troubling was Mao’s relationship with Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko who was not only a puppet of the United States, France, and Belgium, but was complicit in the assassination of Lumumba and friendly with the apartheid regime of South Africa. Mao supported the FNLA, which was supported by Mobutu, and UNITA, which was supported by apartheid South Africa and the United States.
12. In poetic irony, forty years later, after winning the Newark mayor’s race in 2014, Baraka’s son mayor-elect Ras Baraka appointed former mayor Kenneth Gibson to his transition team.
13. In a broadside to Oklahoma State Representative Hanna Atkins, who resigned her post as treasurer in the NBPA citing the undesirability of serving in a leadership position with a “scientific socialist,” Baraka replied: “I ask why Hanna Atkins can be in the Democratic Party with [Alabama] Governor Wallace and she can’t be here with me” (Smith, 1996, p. 306). Baraka contended that his turn to Marxism did not preclude the feasibility of the united front approach of the NBPA, insisting that
[o]nly ignorant persons, tools or representatives of imperialism would seek to limit that front or try to put people out of the Assembly for the reason that they were communists or socialists as some petit bourgeois black elected officials had tried to do (to me). The absurdity of this, of course, was that these questionable patriots belong to political parties that feature George Wallace and James Eastland on one hand or Ronald Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller on the other. . . . Black elected officials are not resigning from these parties because of those fascists. (pp. 69–70)
14. Cleage’s approach had matured since the time he advocated “an organized and deliberate strategy of chaos,” which was “a deliberately conceived plan to tear up those things from which we are excluded in these United States—it either accepts us in it, or we’ll do everything possible to tear it up” (Dillard, 2007, p. 279).
15. Arguably the most widely celebrated holiday in the United States, Thanksgiving, is a harvest festival.
16. This is similar to Du Bois’s (1969, p. 12) discussion of slave revolts in Black Reconstruction.
17. That King’s children held their mother Coretta Scott King’s funeral in such a church—even as their daughter and pastor Rev. Bernice King heaped praised on the church’s pastor as one in her father’s tradition—demonstrates how a personal narrative, even one as profound as King’s can be manipulated in a way that is antithetical to the original intent of the narrative’s author.
18. Cleage’s Black Slate was influential in the election of Detroit city council members, two U.S. Congresswomen, and a subsequent, albeit disgraced, Detroit mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, who was forced to resign amid scandal and is serving a lengthy prison sentence for federal corruption charges.
1. Among black elected officials, this discourse became subsumed and redirected into a call for full employment, as in the Humphrey-Hawkins Act. The essential aspects of the act were substantially watered down when passed by the Carter administration (Smith, 1996).
2. #BlackLivesMatter is the most famous of the hashtag (#) activism prevalent in the era of social media; and although focused mainly on police killings of unarmed blacks, was created by three African American women, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrice Cullors, in the aftermath of the acquittal of a white Latino civilian, George Zimmerman, in his fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
3. Beyond the NFL protests, two of the most prominent examples of hashtag activism are #MeToo begun by African American activist Tarana Burke, and #SayHerName initiated after the controversial alleged suicide of black motorist Sandra Bland in police custody. The former emerged to mobilize against rapists, sexual assaulters, and sexual harassers and to support survivors; and the latter is a response to the privileging of male victims of police terrorism on social media and among protest organizations, and focused on the women and girls killed by racist, classist, homophobic and/or transphobic police forces, “hate groups,” and individual civilians. Both are also aimed at supporting survivors and their families and “self-care” for activists themselves.
4. On the UPJM, see Upchurch (1996); also see Henderson & Leng, 1999; Taylor, 1990.