Author: Víctor Fowler
email@example.comJanuary 01 to January 25, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
On December 1, 1955, during a public bus ride in Montgomery City, Alabama, a 42-year-old black seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to give a white man the seat in which she was sitting. The codes of segregated behavior at the time included that Black people (in the southern states) paid their fare by boarding at the front door, where the driver was located, alighted to re-enter the bus now at the rear door, and only then sought accommodation in the back seats. Black people were not even allowed to walk through the aisle of the bus between white passengers to the back of the bus.
If they acted otherwise, for example, by remaining seated (which is what Parks did), the driver – who, in all likelihood, would offend the offender – was to call the police to take them to the station and, later, to try and punish the Black man or woman foolish enough to violate the rules. A little more than ten years earlier, Parks herself had had an altercation when, after paying, she refused to enter through the back door; on that occasion, rather than be arrested, Parks chose to leave the bus.
The above episode is known as one of the main moments, the detonator, of a protest of leaders and, in general, Black demonstrators who – opposed to this segregationist practice – maintained a boycott against the company that extended, heroically, throughout a year and that would draw the attention of the mass media of the entire country to the violence and cruelty of racial discrimination in the South of the American nation. As stated from the very beginning of the volume Civil Rights in America. Racial desegregation of public accommodations. A National Historic Landmarks theme study:
Physical separation of the races in public accommodations was an uncomfortable and degrading practice for those who were denied equal access. Segregation in theaters, restaurants, hotels and buses was a constant irritation in daily life and an insulting nuisance. This resulted in direct confrontations between racial minorities who demanded their right to pay for goods and services in the marketplace, and white business owners who demanded the right to only serve whom they chose.[i] The segregation of theaters, restaurants, hotels, and buses was a constant irritant in daily life and an insulting nuisance.
The roots of the problem extend to the beginning of the 19th century when the northern states of what would become the United States of America virtually abolished slavery thanks to a variety of “constitutional, judicial or legislative” actions (p. 6). At the same time, in the South, the practices of separation between races intensified.
Along with this, the anxiety of contact meant that in the most racist nuclei of the northern elites, efforts to extend spaces differentiated according to skin color also multiplied. An example of this is the introduction of cars for Black people on trains and the numerous cases of protest and refusal to travel in them (even the great black abolitionist Frederick Douglass was removed from his seat on one occasion for refusing to change cars).
An 1857 court case, Scott v. Sandford (where a slave, Dred Scott, tried to prove that – because he had resided in non-slave states – he should be considered a free man), was to have enormous consequences for the struggles that were to take place a hundred years later and that we know today as the Civil Rights Movement. In the Dred Scott case, which Scott lost, the Supreme Court ruled not only that the plaintiff was not a citizen, but that “Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the territories”.
In other words, decisions about slavery (and others in this area involving customs) were left to the states and local governments. Another important decision was Hall v. DeCuir (1877) where it was decided that “the laws of a state are not applicable to interstate ship voyages and that only Congress can regulate interstate commerce”. Finally, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) opened the door for the extension of “segregation of the races, provided the separate facilities were of equal quality.” [ii]
Although protests throughout the century led seven southern states to eliminate laws that favored segregation in the public space, legal decisions such as those mentioned above made possible a reality where supply found its most evident application in Black individuals of high economic capacity .For the same price as their white counterparts, Blacks could travel in a sophisticated train carriage, while in the lower economic strata the difference was perfectly visible in the quality of supply and in the treatment received.
Parks’ arrest was followed by a mobilization on her behalf whose movers and shakers included Edgar Daniel (E. D.) Nixon, leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (with whom Parks had worked in the NAACP); Clifford Durr, a white Montgomery lawyer and strong advocate of interracial democracy with his wife Virginia; Jo Ann Gibson, an English professor at Alabama State College; and – among the clergy who offered support – a young pastor, just 26 years old, named Martin Luther King Jr. The success of the boycott, planned to last one day, was such that the organizers decided to extend it, and so it ended up spanning an entire year; along the way, on January 30, 1956, a bomb exploded in King’s house and on February 21 -along with almost 90 protest leaders- he was arrested and charged with having organized a boycott considered illegal. On November 13, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited racial segregation in interstate as well as intrastate travel, and so, on December 21, 1956, Reverend King “along with several black and white companions boarded a bus for a historic unsegregated ride” (p. 46).
From this point on, the life of Martin Luther King Jr. began to become more risky, complex and to grow into a legend. The son and grandson of Baptist pastors, a pastor himself, MLK developed his political, social, religious and cultural action in the brief period from 1955 to April 4, 1968, the date on which he died in Memphis, assassinated by James Earl Ray, a racist shooter. In this brief period, he became a leading figure in the Montgomery bus boycott (1955-1956); he helped found and was the first president (1957) of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLS); led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, where he delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech, recognized as one of the most important pieces of oratory delivered in the country; was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was a leading figure in securing passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In addition, he was the central figure in two of the greatest battles for civil rights: those that took place in the cities of Birmingham and Selma, both in the state of Alabama, in 1963.
In the first of these, on April 13, 1963, King was arrested and during the three days he was behind bars he wrote his well-known Letter from Birmingham Jail in which he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable tissue of mutuality, bound together in a simple fabric of destiny. Anything that affects one directly affects all indirectly.” In that same document, MLK would explain the essence of nonviolence (the Gandhian-inspired mode of protest that he breathed into the Civil Rights Movement) as follows:
Why direct action, sit-ins, marches and the like? Isn’t negotiation a better way? You are exactly right in your call for negotiation. Indeed, that is the purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the problem. (…) I have worked and preached vigorously against violent tension, but there is a kind of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth.[iii] I have worked and preached vigorously against violent tension, but there is a kind of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth.[iii]
The condition of nonviolence could only find its foundation in the love that cares for the suffering other and that, as part of God’s created works, even embraces the other who oppresses. Because of this, King’s nonviolence opposes both the part of the Black community that accommodates segregation (be it the lower strata or the academic sectors) and those who preach hatred and separation between the races (which, in context, pointed to the Black nationalists of Elijah Muhammad).
Martin Luther King’s social thought reached its greatest radicalism when, in an endeavor that would bring him multiple misunderstandings (even among leaders of the anti-racist struggles) as well as numerous new enemies (both among whites and Blacks), he became one of the most prominent intellectuals and political figures who publicly opposed the Vietnam War. The statement that gained the greatest resonance in this regard was the speech Beyond Vietnam: The Time to Break the Silence, delivered on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church before an audience of about 300 people, exactly one year before his death, whose first sentence was: “Tonight I have come to this magnificent house of worship because my conscience leaves me no other choice”, and where he singled out the United States as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. The finesse of the socio-political analysis that MLK was able to develop shines through in excerpts such as the following:
Repeatedly we have been confronted with the cruel irony of watching black and white youths on television screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. We have seen them in brutal solidarity, burning shacks in a poor village, but we understand that they would never live together on the same block in Detroit. I cannot remain silent in the face of this cruel manipulation of the poor.[iv] Increasingly, by choice or by choice alone, the poor are being manipulated.
Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has played – the role of those who make peaceful revolutions impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and pleasures that come from the immense benefits of investments across the sea.
I am convinced that, if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we need, as a nation, to undergo a radical revolution of values. We need to quickly begin the transformation from a “things-oriented” society to a “people-oriented” society. When property rights and the profit motive are more important than the person, it is impossible to conquer the gigantic trio of racism, materialism and militarism.[v] (Idem)
The other enormous cause to which MLK devoted a great deal of energy was the struggle of American workers for better wages, health care, education for their children, and decent housing. The satisfaction of such demands had to derive, in Luther King’s thinking, from the action of workers integrated into a powerful, organized, highly conscious and nonviolent labor movement; the speech delivered to the Illinois state labor union meeting on October 7, 1965, in Springfield is an illustration of that idea as the following quote shows:
The labor movement was the main force transforming misery and despair into hope and progress. As a result of hard-fought battles, economic and social reforms gave birth to unemployment insurance, age pensions, government assistance for the indigent, and, above all, new standards of living that meant mere survival, if not tolerable living. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they held out until they were overrun.[vi]
For Cornel West, editor of the volume The Radical King, MLK’s growing engagement with progressive guild leaders “is integral to his calling”; according to the well-known scholar, poverty was for King not only “a barbaric form of tyranny to be banished from the Earth,” but that “the greatness of nations or civilizations is measured not by military might, architectural prowess, or the number of multimillionaire citizens; the greatness of who or what we rather consist in how we treat the least of these: the weak, the vulnerable, the orphan, the widow, the widow, the stranger, the poor, the marginal, and the prisoner (West, 2014).
MLK’s last (and unfinished) great battle was the so-called “Poor People’s March” -which sought to repeat the massive demonstration of people in front of the Capitol in Washington, which in 1963 had attracted a quarter of a million people-, but now to demand a fairer redistribution of wealth in the country. In political terms, the most outstanding feature of this new mobilization was that it was intended to convene and represent a multiracial sector which, in addition to Black Americans, was intended to include Native Americans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and poor white Americans. Thus, in a speech delivered in New York on March 10, 1968, he was able to say:
Now, I said poor people, too, and by that I mean all poor people. When we go to Washington we are going to have black people with us because black people are poor, but we are also going to have Puerto Ricans because Puerto Ricans are poor in the United States of America. We are going to have Mexican-Americans because they are mistreated. We are going to have Native Americans because they are mistreated. And for those who don’t let their prejudices lead them to blindly support their oppressors, along with us in Washington we’re going to have Appalachian whites (West, 2014).
MLK’s last public speech was the sermon he delivered in Memphis the night before his assassination. Known as I Have Been to the Mountaintop, this beautiful oratorical piece is inspired by the biblical story of Moses (who, after the Exodus, leads the people of Israel to the very Holy Land, although he dies without entering it) to establish a chilling parallel -in light of what was to happen the next day- between the biblical prophet and Martin Luther King himself. Following several investigations and testimonies about those last weeks, the amount of pitfalls, persecution, threats and misunderstanding around MLK damaged his spirit and health, to the point of causing depression and lack of sleep, among other ailments. Some testimonies even speak of the fact that, after years of threat, MLK began to feel, foresee or expect to meet an early death. The speech begins with a strange proposition that the speaker receives from the Almighty himself: to choose the era in which he prefers to live and this, after a long journey through time, turns out to be the one in which we find ourselves. At the end, after mentioning the possible threats to his life, MLK pronounced the following closing paragraph:
We’re going to have some tough days ahead, but I’m not interested in that right now. Because I’ve been to the top of the mountain. And I don’t worry about it. Like anyone else, I’d like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not worried about it now. I just want to fulfill God’s wishes and He has allowed me to climb the mountain. And I’ve looked around. And I have seen the Promised Land. I may not go in there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I am happy, tonight. I am not worried about anything. I fear no man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord (West, 2014).
During the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., following the wishes of his widow, Coretta, excerpts from the sermon entitled The major drum, King delivered on February 4, 1968, at his Ebenezer Church in Atlanta, Georgia, were heard. May these words serve as a farewell:
If any of you are around when it’s my turn to find my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you have someone to say the eulogy, tell them not to talk too much. (…)
Tell him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, for that is not important.
Tell him not to mention that I have been awarded three or four hundred other recognitions, because this is not important.
Tell them not to mention where I went to school.
But I would like someone to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life in service to others.
I would like someone to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love someone.
I want you to say that I tried to take the right stand on the issue of war. I want you to be able to say that day that I tried to feed the hungry.
And I want you to be able to say that in my life I tried to clothe the naked.
I want you to be able to say that day that I tried to visit those who were in prison.
I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, say – if you wish – that I was a drum major; say that I was a drum major for justice.
Say I was a drum major for peace.
I was a drum major for honesty and all the other superficial things won’t matter.
I had no money to leave behind me.
I didn’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind me.
But I do want to leave a life of commitment and this is all I want to say.
If I can help someone as I pass.
If I can celebrate someone with a word or song.
If I can show someone that their journey is wrong,
then my life will not have been in vain.
If I can do my duty as a Christian,
If I can bring salvation to this world once built,
If I can spread the message as the master taught,
then my life will not have been in vain.
Yes, Jesus, I want to be at your right hand and at your left, But not for any selfish reason.
I want to be on your right and on your left, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition, but I want to be right there in love and justice, in truth and commitment to others, so that it will make this old world a new world. (Idem)
[i] Cianci Salvatore, Susan. Civil Rights in America. Racial desegregation of public accommodations. A National Historic Landmarks theme study. Washington, D. C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2009.
[ii] Schultz, David (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court. New York: Facts of File, 2005.
[iii] West, Cornel (ed.) The radical King. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.
[vi] King, Jr., Martin Luther. All labor has dignity. Boston: Beacon Press, 2011.
July 15, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
This is not the first time that Viola Davis has publicly rejected her role as Aibileen Clark in the drama THE HELP, which this time she has described, in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, as a film that maintains “the narrative of the white savior” and that did not give enough prominence to the black maids, reports the DPA agency.
The actress, who was nominated for an Oscar for best lead actor for her appearance in that film in 2012, has once again shown her regret, now within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. Already in 2018, Davis showed h displeasure with the film directed by Tate Taylor in 2011.
“There’s no one who hasn’t enjoyed THE HELP, but there’s a part of me that feels I betrayed myself and my people,” Davis explains in an interview for the magazine she’s the cover of. “I was in a movie that wasn’t programmed [to tell the whole truth],” she adds, denouncing that the film is made “with the filter and the sewers of systematic racism.
Davis also denounces the lack of Black voices in the creative process in Hollywood. “There are not a lot of narratives that are involved in our humanity [referring to the African-American community],” she explains. She adds that the writers, directors and producers “try to delve into the idea of what it means to be Black, but thinking essentially about a white audience.
She added that in Hollywood “there are not enough opportunities for an unknown Black actress” to “get ahead” in the industry. In this way, Davis, who had already been nominated for an Oscar before THE HELP for her role in THE DOUBT, justifies her participation in the film that also starred Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer, who won the Oscar for this film. “I was that actress who was trying to get into [the industry],” she says.
Not only Viola
Just a few weeks ago, Bryce Dallas Howard also disowned the film and recommended that the public not see THE HELP as a reference for fighting racism. The singer also added that she “would not” have participated in the film if it had been shot today.
It was in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that the Jurassic World actress spoke about the need to give voice to Black creators and for them to be the ones to address the African-American reality.
“I wouldn’t appear in the film again [if it had been made today]. I’ll tell you why: I’ve realized that now people have the courage to say, ‘With all due respect, I love this project, but I don’t think you should be the one to direct it. That’s a very powerful thing, to be able to say it,” the actress explained.
“In this transformation that’s happening, a new freedom of expression is emerging,” Howard added, emphasizing the importance of black voices in the industry, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement.
A CubaNews translation by Ana Portela.
Edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
PROLOGUE TO THE CUBAN EDITION
“I don’t expect to live long enough to read my book…”, he said one day and it proved to be true because he was killed before his autobiography was published. It became a dramatic reality, on the afternoon of February 21, 1965, when he began to address an audience of about 400 Blacks and half a dozen whites.
Two men, taking advantage of a confusion caused by their accomplices, jumped from the first row of the Audubon Ballroom and fired at Malcolm X who kept standing in the face of the assassin’s bullets and then he fell to the floor – mortally wounded – while one of the killers emptied his gun into his body.
Betty Shabazz, the wife of Malcolm X and his four little children were present in the Audubon . Betty ran towards the lectern screaming: “They have killed my husband! They are killing my husband!”
At 3:45 in the afternoon, in the Columbian Presbyterian Medical Center, the following report was made: “The gentleman you know as Malcolm X is dead.”
The reaction of the whites, headed by the press, was to identify the assassins and the reason for the assassination as an act of vengeance by other Blacks, the Black Muslims, belonging to the organization Malcolm X had left during the early part of 1964.
However, the reaction in the Black ghettoes and among the closest followers of Malcolm X, his killing had a very different reason. Gradually it became known that powerful forces had their hands in it: the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were involved in the assassination because they were alarmed by the growing impact of Malcolm X and, primarily, because of his intent to internationalize the racial discrimination existing in the United States, trying to take it to the UN Human Rights Commission, through diplomats of African countries.
Using fraudulent declarations from bogus or bought witnesses, a trial was fabricated against two members of the Black nationalist organization, the Black Muslims [the Nation of Islam]; they intended to demonstrate that the assassination had been a question “among Blacks” and the investigations which should have been made of the events were not performed.
Because, in truth, it became evident that the Muslims could not have carried out the actions that were ongoing occurrences against Malcolm X: intervention and wire-tapping of all his telephone calls, following him on his trips to Europe, Africa and the Middle East; and these are just a few.
Proof revealed later demonstrates that the assassins were acting under orders of the United States government. Gene Roberts, one of the men who should have protected the life of Malcolm X, was a member of BOSS (Bureau of Special Services) an organization of highly secret police agents. [BOSS was, in fact, a covert arm of the New York Police Department.] In 1964 he had infiltrated the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), the organization founded by Malcolm X.
Malcolm X was killed when Gene Roberts was supposed to protect him. And the majority of the OAAU members are now imprisoned or dead. Gene Roberts later infiltrated another black nationalist organization, the Revolutionary Action Movement [RAM] and a group known as the Mau Mau. He culminated his activities against the most radical Black organizations, the Harlem Branch of the Black Panther Party. His testimony and provocations served to jail 21 Black Panthers in New York who were in danger of being sentenced to long prison terms, accused of conspiring to blow up stores of the great city. Gene Roberts was, at last, exposed in 1970.
One day we will learn the precise role he played in the assassination of Malcolm X.
The events of 1965 demonstrated that Malcolm X was right when he told his wife Betty that the United States establishment was after his life.
For this reason the New York Times wrote, in December of 1965: “Most admirers of Malcolm are beginning to believe that he was assassinated by order of the United States government.”
But who was this man considered to be a danger to the government of the United States, to the powers that be?
Malcolm Little, because that was the surname he received from his father on May 19, 1925, was born in Omaha, Nebraska. In the great cities of the North, in the ghettoes where he lived most of his life, from the age of 15, he was a thief, drug addict, professional gambler and pimp. Simply, he touched bottom of human conditions to become, later, the dynamic leader of the Black revolution in the United States. His example was devastating, consequently his dangerousness.
“I have dedicated all the time available to this book because I believe and hope that my honest and factual account will serve an objective reader and find some social value in this testimony.
“I hope and expect that an objective leader, reading about my life – the life of a Black leader formed in the ghetto – acquires an image and clearer account of the Black ghettoes that are modeling the lives of twenty-two million Blacks who live in the United States”.
Now, Malcolm X is known in the entire world by the surname he took when he left the Charlestown prison in 1952 and became a Black Muslim. In this Black Nationalist movement he was revealed as a genius in oratory winning thousands of converts. But, at the same time, he became a symbol of freedom and independence for ghetto Blacks. Continuing the process, he became politically aware. That was what led him to the religion of the Black Muslims. Malcolm X studied the oppression and discrimination of his Black brothers and, in 1963, began to have doubts about the religion he supported. Clear political differences caused him to break from the organization, on March 22, 1964.
In his autobiography, dictated to the Black journalist, Alex Haley, he reveals a stereotypical image of the Black assimilated to white culture until, in jail and through the doctrine of Islam, he became a sensitive being, proud of his black skin, of his frizzed hair; he identified with his African origin and with the pain of his people. He is politicized and he assumes the ideology of a revolutionary, he becomes a MAN.
“It would probably be impossible to find a Black man, in any part of the United States, who had sunken so low in human society, as me; or a Negro who has been more ignorant or a Negro who has suffered so much anguish in life than I. But it is only after the deepest darkness when the greatest joy can rise up; only after slavery and prison can he accept the sweet acknowledgement of freedom.”
To understand the crisis of identity, alienation, hostility, discrimination, and loneliness of the United States Negro and the reason for his struggle, the autobiography, writings and speeches of Malcolm X should be read.
“I gritted my teeth and tried to pull the sides of the kitchen table together. The comb felt as if it was raking my skin off … and so stupid that I was in rapture because my hair was like that of the whites … This was my first really big step towards self-degradation … I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are inferior – and white people “superior” – that they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies …|
“I am not going to sit at your table with an empty plate to see you eat and say that I am a diner. If I do not eat what is on that plate, sitting at the table doesn’t make me a diner. Being in the United States does not make me an American. Having been born here does not make us Americans.”
These statements he made were, perhaps, not pleasant to the ears of many whites and some Negroes, but it was the truth of the situation of his people.
A controversial figure in life, activists of the fight for freedom of the Black people now study his writings, his speeches, his autobiography because the current active militancy in the United States has to be found in him. Then, each interprets him in their own way; but there they are, unmoving and, at the same time, with the flexibility of a constant dialectic development of a revolutionary, taken on, put into practice, enriched.
He aroused laughter and applause because he not only told the Black masses what they wanted to hear for a long time, but because he said it as one of the most eloquent and brilliant political orators of his time.
“I don’t see any American dream. I see an American nightmare.” The bitterness, hostility, animosity of white American racial intolerance is there in his autobiography and in his speeches. They are also present in his later political ideas, as the basis of the action program of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, the organization he founded and those ideas are what led to his assassination.
Internationalization is proposed as the struggle for the US Negro people: “And if the twenty two million US Negroes see that our problem is the same as the problem of the peoples who are being oppressed in South Viet Nam, the Congo and Latin America, then – because the oppressed of the world are a majority and not a minority –, we must confront our problems as a majority who can demand and not as a minority who must beg.”
Many have wanted to classify Malcolm X a Black racist because he spoke of Negro nationalism. When Malcolm X speaks of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America he sometimes calls then Negroes. With this term he symbolized the exploited peoples but his position is not reverse racism: “It is wrong to classify the unrest of the Negroes simply as racial conflict of the Blacks against the whites or as a purely American problem. What we see today is, in fact, a worldwide rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressors … the revolution of the Negroes is not a racial revolution.”
To explain his belief that discrimination is a product of a system of social exploitation, he points out: “…all countries that rise up against the claws of colonialism are turning to socialism. I do not think that this is accidental. The majority of the countries that were colonial powers were capitalist countries and, today, the last bulwark of capitalism is the United States. It cannot be believed that a white person can believe in capitalism and not believe in racism. There cannot be capitalism without racism.”
The idea of rethinking the Negro as a man, as a human being, in the highest meaning of this word, and his internationalist concept of the struggle of the American people, makes him hated by imperialism; also his opposition and charges against the war of aggression in Viet Nam, Yankee invasion of Santo Domingo and the sending of mercenary troops to the Congo. But he is even more dangerous because he understood the importance of violence and, with this concept; he opened the eyes of the young American youths. He demonstrated, exhaustively, what revolutionary violence could do in China, in Algeria, in Cuba and is achieving in Viet Nam. He foresaw, at the time, the violence that would shake the Negro ghettoes in the United States and defended it as the necessary means to achieve freedom.
This publication of his autobiography and fragments of his speeches by the Cuban Book Institute informs us that the fight of the American Negro people was symbolized in one of the leaders of most clarity, who, with a direct, simple, plain, incisive and compelling language – because it will be a page-turner. Probably we will have to reread the book – as a piece of history, a history that is still being written with the blood and sweat of the Blacks and exploited of the United States
I am what is considered in Cuba a white person although there is a saying that he who hasn’t Congo blood has Carabali (two Black tribal groups that were slaves during colonial times). Also, if you proclaim pure Spanish heritage suffice it to remember that the Moors occupied Spain for five hundred years.
Now, what is the reason for this explanation? I want to express my opinion about Malcolm X that is a difficult task for a “white” person. I was young when Malcolm X held up the banner of Black liberation. (About 5 years older than him) and I followed his teachings at every opportunity I could find. He was a truly electrifying orator. But most important of all, I realized that I was seeing a new young leader who would be a force to consider in the near future.
I was greatly impressed by his thinking and became completely convinced when he left Elijah Muhammad to stand on his own, in defense of the exploited of the world. His trips to the many countries of the world opened his eyes to widespread exploitation and the ills of imperialism but also made him a world leader in his own right.
This was something that the “establishment” could not and would not allow and consequently, the US government and its agencies plotted his assassination.
Like Che, Malcolm became a martyr of the class struggle and a symbol of freedom. As a person politically developed during the sixties, I believe that both were necessary in life: Che to the Cuban people, Malcolm to the oppressed Blacks and both to the exploited of the world.
We have lost two champions but their seeds are sown and are beginning to bear fruit.
So with strong conviction I can say:
Power to the Blacks and exploited of this world!
Socialismo o Muerte!
Wednesday, July 18, 2018.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
From the blog of Cuban photographer Juvenal Balán.
The prisoner with the number 46664 and the first black president of South Africa, who spent most of those 27 years confined in a damp cell barely 2.4 metres high by 2.1 metres wide, who showed gallantry and who was not, nor could anyone break his fighting spirit that led him to become the world’s oldest political captive and an icon of the universal struggle against the hated apartheid segregationist regime that existed in his country, would now be 100 years old.
A man of universal stature who is remembered today by all because, as Fidel said in a reflection following his death: “No present or past event that I remember or have heard of, such as Mandela’s death, had such an impact on world public opinion, not because of his wealth, but because of the human quality and nobility of his feelings and ideas”.
Granma’s photojournalists had the good fortune and joy of immortalizing him with their photos. Arnaldo Santos while attending the inauguration of the new government in Namibia on March 24, 1990, where Nelson Mandela exchanged with the Cuban delegation led by Revolution Commander Juan Almeida Bosque and Jorge Risquet Valdés.
Then Liborio Noval when Mandela first visited Cuba — a year after his release from prison, met Fidel Castro personally and began a close friendship — and was present at the July 26, 1991 ceremony in Matanzas, where Fidel was decorated with the José Martí Order. It was an intimate friendship sealed in the common struggle, and it remained undisturbed, for the admiration between the two was mutual.
Fidel visited South Africa again in September 1998 – the first time was in 1994 – and I had the opportunity to immortalize these two greats of history who treated each other like brothers.
Fidel said about Mandela: “Old and prestigious friend, how pleased I am to see you converted and recognized by all the political institutions of the world as a symbol of freedom, justice and human dignity.
Mandela, on Fidel’s first visit to his homeland, said: “I am a loyal man and I will never forget that in the darkest moments of our homeland, in the struggle against apartheid, Fidel Castro was at our side.
And this relationship between the two great men, both symbols of the moral strength of principles and dignity, lasted until Mandela’s death on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95.
August 16, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Aretha Franklin won 44 nominations, 18 Grammys and 75 million records sold
The diva from Memphis had been fighting cancer for years.
Franklin still had time to make one last record, A Brand New Me.
She went on to replace Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammy Awards.
There are few black voices left of the old guard. One of the most imposing ones has departed. Perhaps the most recognizable, the one that became immense by singing Respect and that had the pleasure of finishing off the work with other unforgettable melodies such as Natural Woman, I Say a Little Prayer or Chain of Fools, a church voice that made the leap into the commercial arena and that, after 44 nominations, 18 Grammys and 75 million records sold all over the world, became the first woman to access the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a year before The Beatles. The queen of soul, the eternal Aretha Franklin, has passed away. She was 76 years old.
Aretha Franklin’s representative confirmed to the Associated Press that the queen of soul had died Tuesday at her home in Detroit. On Sunday, information began to circulate about the singer’s admission to a hospital in Detroit, the city where she lived. It was said that she was in an extremely serious condition and that she was surrounded by her closest family and friends, as a clear sign of her impending end.
The Memphis diva had been struggling with cancer for years – even though she had never officially recognized it – and last year announced that she was retiring from show business for good. “This will be my last year. I’ll be recording, but this will be my last year of concerts. That’s all,” she said in an interview in 2017
“I feel very enriched and satisfied with where my career comes from and where it is.
All this after she was forced to cancel a series of concerts during the summer and could not be at a jazz festival in New Orleans. “Aretha Franklin has been ordered by her doctor to stay off the road (because of the music tours) and rest completely for the next two months,” the singer’s team announced in a statement in March.
Elton John will be able to brag about getting her on stage one last time. She was in November in New York to raise funds for the fight against AIDS. And former President Barack Obama was able to count on the strength of her voice at the 2009 presidential inauguration, in one of her most notable and remembered public events in her homeland. She did the same with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, as well as singing at Martin Luther King’s funeral.
Despite her health problems – for decades she had to deal with obesity and alcoholism – Franklin still had time to record one last album, A Brand New Me, a compilation of her most important songs, although this time with the collaboration of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London and the voice of a much more mature Franklin.
“Having the opportunity to work with that voice on this project has been the greatest honor and hearing a symphony orchestra involve these performances is impressive,” said producer Nick Patrick after releasing the album in November last year.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Spike Lee expects Trump to see “BlacKkklansman”, his film about the Ku Klux Klan, a passionate film, with moments of tension and comedy about race relations in the United States over the decades.
“BlacKkkKlansman,” based on the true story of an African-American police detective in the 1970s who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, hits theaters on Friday.
Lee said the film’s release is specifically scheduled to commemorate the anniversary of last year’s violent clashes between white nationalists and anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a woman was killed.
Trump was heavily criticized last year for blaming both sides for the violence, and images of the protests are included in the film.
“I want the man in the White House to see it too. I’m not saying his name,” Lee told Reuters Television Wednesday at the film’s Beverly Hills premiere.
“When I saw the horrific act of national and American terrorism, I knew right away that I wanted to do this,” Lee said of what happened in Charlottesville.
Topher Grace, who plays David Duke – leader of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1970s – said the cast and crew were impressed by the film’s contemporary relevance during shooting.
“It becomes more timely with each passing second, unfortunately. This film should not be more timely now than it was when the events occurred, but unfortunately it is,” Grace said.
(With information from Reuters)
Leaders from around the world expressed their condolences after the death of the anti-apartheid fighter on Monday.
Author: International Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
April 3, 2018 20:04:36
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
PRETORIA: Leaders from around the world expressed their condolences after the death on Monday of Winnie Mandela, a woman whom the current South African president described as “the voice of challenge and resistance in the face of exploitation and repression by the apartheid regime”.
In a message released yesterday in Pretoria, the head of state and government, Cyril Ramaphosas, further noted that “Winnie was a champion of justice and equality and that throughout her life she contributed to the struggle through sacrifice and persistent determination”.
The news of the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 81, on Monday, April 2, at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, was reported by family spokesman Victor Dlamini. He said that “we want to communicate with deep sadness that she has passed away,” he said.
The African Union (AU), in the words of its Commission Chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, also expressed shock and sadness at the death of Nelson Mandela’s second wife, reported Prensa Latina.
Also joining in the condolences was Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Yavad Zarif, who addressed his condolences to the South African people in general and to the supporters and all those who follow the thought and beliefs of the anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
Alluding to the four long decades of struggle against apartheid alongside Mandela, he noted that Winnie’s death had caused South Africa and the world pain.
From a closer latitude, Evo Morales, president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, expressed his solidarity with the South Africans for the loss of the one considered by many “mother of the nation” of South Africa.
Morales’ message on Twitter states that the second wife of South African leader Nelson Mandela “was and will be a symbol of the struggle for freedom and equality.
In 1994, after the first democratic elections, Madikizela-Mandela was appointed deputy and vice-minister of Art and Culture. Since then, she had been a member of parliament and remained a leading figure in the African National Congress (ANC), the governing body in South Africa since the first democratic elections after the end of apartheid, in which she won together with Mandela’s victory in 1994.
The South African government announced yesterday that on April 14 Winnie Mandela will be sent off by her people with state funerals, after President Cyril Ramaphosa visited her family in Soweto to express his condolences and support directly to them.
By Marylín Luis Grillo
Posted: Wednesday 04 April 2018 | 09:35:06 PM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
It was a single shot from a Remington-Peters rifle. Martin Luther King Jr. had fallen in Memphis, Tennessee.
Hours earlier, in a sermon, as if in anticipation of the bullet that tried to quell his throat, he had said to the congregation of the city: “We have difficult days ahead of us […] Like everyone else, I would like to have a long life. […] But that doesn’t worry me now. I just want to do God’s will. And he has allowed me to climb to the top of the mountain. And from there I saw the promised land. I may not get to her with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will reach the Promised Land. And I’m happy about it. Nothing worries me.
Luther King, who at the age of 39 had won the Nobel Peace Prize, had led a non-violent struggle for the civil rights of the African-American community, which had become the banner of hope… King did not die, because dreams do not die, they only come true.
The results of their struggle are not yet complete. Fifty years after his murder, the United States is still convulsed by inequality. The latest statistics illustrate that African-Americans suffer three times as many expulsions and school dropouts, their average household income is half that of white families, and with only 13 percent of the population, El País reported, they account for 40 percent of drug arrests.
A study by the Inequality of Opportunity Project also concluded that racial income disparities are one of the most persistent issues in American society, and that the racial identity to which one belongs marks the opportunities for study, work, salary levels, and social advancement from generation to generation.
Black people are also three times more likely than whites to be victims of police in the United States, and in 2015 alone, for example, with Barack Obama in the White House, law enforcement officers killed more unarmed blacks than armed whites. Faced with an Afro-descendant, the trigger is pulled without much attention.
Police repression, increasing inequality, debates in society about the role of identity groups, and Trump’s racist rhetoric are some of the factors that have led to the resurgence of movements like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the birth of others like Black Lives Matter.
“No Justice, No Peace” said one of the posters that flooded the streets of Sacramento a week ago protesting the death of another black man by police, 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who was shot down in the Californian capital on suspicion of breaking car windows and running around with a cell phone in his hand, which officers said they mistook for a gun.
Police opened fire up to 20 times on Clark and eight bullets hit him, seven from behind. The video of the arrest hardly shows whether the young man was approaching the officers or not. They do not order him to freez, or to lie on the ground, after the first order to show his hands, they immediately shout “gun” and shoot. The city has been shaken up again, but it is not enough.
This is a good time to remember Luther King. Less than two weeks ago, her nine-year-old granddaughter, Yolanda Renee, was repeating the mythical words “I have a dream. She called for “a world without weapons”. His father, Martin Luther King III, son of the pastor, announced Friday the launch of a global initiative to encourage young people to focus on non-violence to resolve their conflicts.
The struggle continues, but it must be carried to its end; “from the mountain of despair, a stone of hope,” Dr. King would say. He was the same one who never stopped spreading faith because he had died: no bullet can kill dreams.
By Juana Carrasco Martin
Published August 37, 2013 21:39:36 CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2017 | 10:25:08 PM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
It was a blast, revalidating the struggle of many, raising the awareness of others and forming ranks in a social movement involving blacks and whites because it was for the civil rights of all. It also awakened those who were still lethargic after hundreds of years of outrage and submission.
On August 28, 1963, the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation for black people in the United States, the end of slavery, was observed when a crowd, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King and other leaders of the black people’s struggle and social and labor movements, marched on Washington and gathered at the National Mall at the foot of the imposing statue of Abraham Lincoln.
“I have a dream,” he said in his speech to what he called the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the nation, and he called out with utter crudeness that a century later “we must face the tragic fact that the black man is not yet free. He was chained by segregation and discrimination, “living on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity,” he was “an exile in his own land.
The dream? that the words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence will apply to each and every American as a guarantee of the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These were denied to “citizens of color” who had been given a bounced check from a bankrupt justice. But this marginalized, humiliated, separated people, who were denied every opportunity, even the most basic, knew of their right to open the doors of justice, to cast aside racial injustice and to build “the solid rock of brotherhood.”
The time was urgent, warned Martin Luther King, and also alerted his people and the rest of the United States: “1963 is not the end, but the beginning” (…) “There will be no rest or tranquility in America until the black man establishes his citizens’ rights. The winds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
Three national television networks, for the first time, covered the march for jobs and freedom in together. The message reached the entire nation that a melting pot was being said, the pot that had mixed all the peoples who had come to its shores and built a powerful country, but that was one of the great lies. The Black ingredient, even the original peoples, the “red skins”, had been taken out of society. That media coverage was proof that it was time for change.
There Joan Baez and Bob Dylan sang, as did the gospel performer, Mahalia Jackson, who carried the feeling of the crowd with I’ve Been ‘Buked and I’ve Been Scorned. Many spoke, including Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, recalling his years as a rabbi in Berlin under Hitler, who said – according to The Guardian – that his great people, who had created a great civilization, had then become a nation of silent spectators to hatred, brutality and mass crimes and cried out: “America cannot become a nation of spectators. America must not remain silent.”
On August 28, 1963, and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, a door was opened. It was hardly mentioned in the 64,000 pages of debate and congressional hearings that gave way to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which put on paper what it should be and yet was not; but it was a touch of the target.
Enemies took it into account. Cointelpro, the program of espionage and infiltration into the social movements of the time, made him its target. William Sullivan, the FBI’s assistant director of domestic intelligence, recommended: “We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous black man in the future of the nation.”
Hot summers came and their street uprisings, many more marches and actions, unity with the anti-war movement, and rejection of the Vietnam War, which they also used as their favorite cannon fodder for blacks and Latinos. Martin Luther King was in that fight for all.
Little by little there were achievements, even a middle class of “coloured” men and women emerged, their numbers increased in universities, they became professionals, their faces already appeared as leading figures in Hollywood films, they showed, even more, their value in the sports world, where the image of a black fist is vivid as a symbol of Black Power, the power of black people.
Blood flowed – that of Martin Luther King himself in April 1968, that of Malcolm X, that of George Jackson, that of many others – Mumia Abu Jamal is still in prison and those who chose more radical methods of struggle are being persecuted. Other leaders in an ongoing struggle were highlighted, as the Lincoln Memorial speaker said as the summer of 1963 ended: it was only the beginning…
And 50 years later, what?
Present at the rally at the National Mall on Saturday, August 24, 2013, which brought together no less than 100,000 Americans of all colors, generations and ideologies to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s oratory piece, were the parents of Trayvon Martin. He was the 17-year-old boy shot dead in the chest by a white vigilante in Florida on February 26, 2012. It took protest marches in many American cities and a lot of work to have the perpetrator arrested and put on trial, and almost now, in July, a jury of five white women and a Latina declared him “Innocent.” Not a few posters in front of Lincoln’s statue again called for justice for what is perceived as a hate crime.
Police in New York and other U.S. cities are accused of practicing stopping and frisking bystanders, most of whom are black or Latino, and preferably young, for no reason. They are stopped because of racial profiling. African-Americans make up seven times more than whites among the prison population, which is already the highest in the world. In the United States, it is known and recognized that they invest more in prisons than in schools….
Only 21 percent of their youth reach high school or college, compared to 37 percent of whites. Budget cuts in major cities declared bankrupt and in federal spending itself, that of the entire nation, affect the public school system and, of course, scholarships or university credits. It goes without saying that communities and neighborhoods where poor or low-income minorities live are among the hardest hit by teacher layoffs. During Barack Obama’s tenure alone, more than 300,000 school jobs have been lost – with a high proportion of these being African-American teachers and staff. Public education will be of even poorer quality, which means that there is no future sown there.
The unemployment rate in 2012 was 13.6 percent for the African-American work force, while the white unemployed made up 8.1 percent. Of the 45 million Americans who receive food aid because they are poor, more than 25 percent are black.
Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States will speak today, August 28, in honor of Martin Luther King. But it is well-known that the president is only an image in a House that is still white and protective of the interests of the powerful 1% against the 99% who – without distinction of race – have declared themselves in struggle and have also begun a path to close the gaps of class inequality, as the Occupy [Wall Street movement] which has been marginalized.
Now, in the southern states, even in other regions, electoral districts are being reconfigured and the black population is once again segregated from the vote, even having to pay to register. It also is the population with the lowest income, thereby discouraging voting. There is only one black senator among the top 100 in Congress, and 43 representatives in the House of Representatives, among 435…
Therefore, the validity of the thought of the civil and pacifist leader: “I have a dream: that one day this nation will rise up and live the true meaning of its creed. We hold this truth to be self-evident: All men are created equal.
Martin Luther King will continue: “Even though we face difficulties today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”
Author: Gabriela Ávila Gómez | email@example.com
20 March 2018 21:03:48
Place of birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of birth: 27 July 1979
Date of Death: March 14, 2018
Occupation at the time of her death: Sociologist and councillor in Rio de Janeiro
Political affiliation: Socialism and Freedom Party
Alma Mater: Catholic University PUC and Federal University Fluminense (master’s degree)
Photo: Taken from TN.COM
“Another murder of a young person who may enter the Military Police account. Matheus Melo was leaving the church. How many more will it take for this to end?” That was the last message on the social networking site Twitter from Rio de Janeiro city councilor Marielle Franco, who paradoxically became the next victim just 24 hours later.
Criticizing the military intervention ordered a month ago by the de facto president, Michel Temer, the activist had emerged from an act of defense for black women and was riding in a car when the shooting began.
According to the Brazilian daily O Globo, the goal was to reach the councilor, who was shot five times. The driver also died in the accident and only one of the advisors who accompanied her survived.
The event caused a stir in Brazil, as she was a woman respected and admired by Brazilians for being a fervent advocate for social causes. There have been several marches and mobilizations called by political parties and social movements under the slogans “Luto e luta” (Mourning becomes fighting), “Murdering police, they will not silence us” or “Warrior woman who died for the people”. Demonstrations were also held in Argentina.
Marielle Franco was a woman, young, black, a favela woman, but she managed to make all these elements – still discriminatory for many – her driving force in the struggle, and from every possible platform she dedicated herself to raising her voice against racism, machismo and the abuses committed by the police in Rio de Janeiro.
The activist was born and raised in La Maré, one of the most violent slum complexes in Rio. At the age of 18 she became pregnant and dropped out of school, but later she attended night classes. Thanks to a scholarship, she obtained a degree in Sociology from the Catholic University PUC, one of the most prestigious in the country. She also held a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Federal University of Fluminense.
One of the events that marked her in her youth and that defined her later line of work was the death of her best friend due to a stray bullet in the Maré; this led her to work on the denunciation of violence within the favelas.
In 2006, she became parliamentary assistant to Marcelo Freixo, He was an emblematic deputy who fought terror unfounded by militias in the favelas. Years later, Franco headed the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro.
At the time of her death, Franco was a member of the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), and on this political platform she became the fifth most votes for municipal legislator in 2016.
Both the councilor and the PSOL were among the biggest critics of the military intervention ordered by Temer.
In this context, Franco became the rapporteur of a commission set up in the Rio municipal chamber to report on possible abuses committed by the military in this intervention.
She gained respect and admiration for the ideas she promoted: that of a greater presence of women, especially black women, in politics, the defence of human rights and her denunciations of the abuses committed under the pretext of stopping the violence in Rio.
In the palace of the Municipal Chamber, where the activist’s remains were veiled, the steps were covered with flowers and banners.
Many organizations and personalities around the world have called on the Brazilian authorities to explain this brutal act, which they describe as a “political assassination”.
In the midst of the investigation, based on the hypothesis of premeditated murder, it emerged that the ammunition that ended Marielle Franco’s life was part of lots sold to the Federal Police of Brasilia in 2006. This fact that opens another discussion and raises the question: was it the activist murdered by the police?
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator