War Against the Panthers /
Huey P. Newton Reader /
To Die for the People /
The Genius of Huey P. Newton
In Search of Common Ground /
Insights and Poems /
Essays from the Minister of Defense
* * * *
Colony, Civic Virtue
How Should the Displaced Respond
Ribbons & Organizing the Poor
with Miriam, Jerry, Jeannette
A Post-Katrina Political Discussion
Miriam: Rudy, this may be a
middle-class model, as you've suggested, but it seems to be
catching on. Sandra, my best buddy whom you met with me,
K., and I are planning discussions. A good point:
What questions should lead off the discussions?
Rudy: Miriam, I have no objections in
the least against discussion groups or mentoring programs. There
probably should be more. The topics most apparent are what
happened in New Orleans and how can we prevent it from
ever happening again and how can we be more responsible for
ourselves in light of what happened in New Orleans. That should
keep you all busy for some time. Moreover, that experience was
traumatic. We need some healing, and only we can heal we, in
Miriam: I scrolled down a couple of
pages but couldn't find
Baraka's essay. Is it included or
just E.'s comments about it? I agree in part with
Ethelbert; much of the response is the same-ole-same-ole, but
the times are different so we need a new attitude.
Rudy: It was in 1968 here at a church
in West Baltimore that I was in the company of both Stokely
Baraka. Baraka brought his group down from Jersey and performed
in the church. I had heard Stokely speak within months
before at Morgan's Murphy Auditorium. Two years up from the
countryside, I was stunned to hear such rhetoric from a Negro in
public. It was the same with Baraka's play—the language—body
and verbal, such political insights on race relations. The only
Jews I knew were in the Bible.
All of this was new and consciousness
raising. Rural life lags in hipness. By the time I met Baraka
(rode with him across town to a house party), by that time I had
become a member of Baltimore SNCC (Bob Moore, Director) and
worked with Walter Lively of U-JOIN, a mixed race organization
which dealt primarily with housing problems of the poor in East
Baltimore. That sort of thing, working for political power for
the poor, just ain't done that much anymore. These men were my first guides in political thinking
The kind of political education that happened then, don't now.
I was at the Gary convention and I might
have seen Baraka, there. As I recall Bob and I went over to
Chicago to a Southside blues club. But I saw Baraka more
recently at a performance he gave at Coppin not long after his "Who?"
Blew Up America, which
dealt with the bombing of the Twin Towers. I have always been
impressed by Baraka as an artist, a performer, a humorist. But
I've never thought that he was astute politically, though
certainly he is an ardent political ideologue.
I've never been a member of such ideological
circles, though I know those who have been. I was for Black
Power and black consciousness raising and union organizing. But
these esoteric pursuits that so many so-called black militants
got involved in that was too much over my head. What troubled me
about the post-King period was the movement of ideological
purity, or coolness, or whose rhetoric had the most punch.
Baraka, Karenga, Cleaver were all
of a cloth—guerilla theater, revolutionary heroics, and a
romance with violence, and also I suspect, a derision for black
Southern cultural life. People were fascinated by propaganda and
film (media hype). I do not wish to disparage so much as to
point it out. For all I know that drama of heroics and political
theater was a necessary and required stage in our political
development as a people.
Maybe it was our Fa. In this retrospective
look, we should learn our lessons. Maybe the black youth of that
era indeed has something to teach us in our 21st
century crisis, the displacement of at least 300,000 Negroes,
the murder of a black city.
The fact is that that rhetorical warfare
(with ripples of violence) ripped the fabric and spirit of
cooperation and collaboration. It was elitism, at its worst, for
after awhile it became clear all this rapping was far above and
beyond that which could be reached by the people. It should not
have been about who was the most militant, who had the right
Baraka contributed to this nonsense. It was
reprehensible. And worst still, I've never had the impression
that Baraka's the kind of cat that is apologetic.
With cats like Baraka and Gates, political
discussion becomes a linguistic contest. Who’s the best
rapper, who’s the best trickster—your monkey or your mama.
My best advice to Baraka, whatever his inclinations, is give up
thoughts of political leadership, be the artist that he is. That
is politics sufficient.
The last coherent statement I heard from
Baraka was in a 1998 Crisis issue From
Parks to Marxism A
Closer to poetic prose, it is not so much a
political analysis as opinionated narrative characterizing what
Baraka views as the history of militant struggle in the last
fifty years, a kind of cataloging of persons and events that
stand out in his imagination and based on the length of the
catalogue, he thinks it’s time for another “political
So, yes, I agree. We need a new attitude. But
I would not throw the baby out with the bathwater. All our work
should not be for nought.
Jeannette: I truly appreciate
your help and involvement. Don't worry. It doesn't bother me
when you start giving ideas, suggestions, directions. I am
open to all ideas. What I realize is, that in this cause, I am a
servant of The Most High (however we label Her/Him/It.) This
purple ribbon cross movement is bigger than me. It's becoming
clearer to me each day.
You know, all those little unexpected
details that show up in the plot.
I just happened a day or so ago to look
through my dream journal. There was an entry for August 12, 2005
in which I had found a huge sewing needle and blue thread on the
ground. This was approximately 2 and a half weeks before
Now I know more of what this dream means for
me. It was a message from my unconscious letting me know on more
than one level what I need to do to deal with pain. Take this
bruise and weave it into a tapestry.
(Real life context—I was still going
through some heartbreak when I had the dream.)
Since now, I am in reality sewing every day
whenever I get a chance, it was also a prophetic dream.
I will definitely send you more crosses.
Today I mailed out 150 which will go to college students. . . .
Jerry: You can go home again. It
would be my first trip into New Orleans since I evacuated myself
on August 28. I did know what to expect. A colleague
from Dillard University, then in Houston, was almost certain
that my house had water damage. Television had supplied a
surplus of dreadful pictures of the Big Easy as the American
Venice and of those citizens who did not leave as well-to-do and
defiant or as poor and stress-stricken. Newspapers, magazines,
and online journals force-fed me what I should believe.
Chakula cha Jua was thoughtful: he sent an
interactive site that allowed me to see aerial views of my house
and neighborhood. Dave Brinks, a brave, purposeful poet, made
a site visit to my house, confirming that I had little damage
that he could see. “Come home,” he said, “as soon as
you can. It is crucial that we begin rebuilding
Raymond Breaux, in a deadpan voice, stirred
all my anxieties when he said New Orleans as we knew it does not
exist. He echoed what Tyrone and Tina Albert said after
their visit a week earlier. I was well prepared to be
The Findings for 1928 Gentilly Blvd., New
Orleans, LA 70119
1) The roof suffered little damage and the
ceilings have no water stains.
2) 3-5 inches of water flooded the house. The
carpets were soaked. The wooded flooring buckled. These must be
removed and replaced. The marble tile must be cleaned and
treated. The detached garage and workshop was flooded; any
books in those areas were destroyed.
3) The 24 windows suffered no damage.
4)Â All rooms in the house must be treated to eradicate
as much mold as possible. Removing mold must take place
immediately to prevent further damage, especially to books.
5) The refrigerator, hot water heater,
washer and dryer must be replaced.
6) Paneling in the kitchen and den
areas, the interior and exterior doors and some furnishings
(dressers, beds in the master bedroom and guest room) must be
7) To ensure that there are no electrical
accidents when the house is inhabited again, it should be
completely rewired; the attic, where most of the wiring is
located was not inspected.
8) The room used as an office sustained
losses that will cause Mr. Ward to be in agony for months. He
will grieve over the loss of his two-volume Oxford English
Many reference books, autographed books,
papers pertaining to the Richard Wright Encyclopedia and the
Cambridge History of African American Literature, Ward’s
manuscripts for Reading Race Reading America, Hollis Watkins: An
Oral Autobiography, and To Shatter the Iris of Innocence
(poetry) are beyond recovery.
The same is true for some videotapes.
The PC and hard drive, 35mm camera, tape recorder, vacuum
cleaner, some photographs and the rare Black Box tapes are
ruined. Manuscript materials from Tom Dent and Lance Jeffers and
Chakula cha Jua were not damaged.
9) Most of Ward’s clothing and shoes
have to be replaced; the mold damage is severe.
10) Ward is luckier by far than 89% of the
residents whose homes suffered wind and water damage.
Tentative conclusion: Yes, Margaret, “A
race of men shall rise and take control.”
I am far luckier, thank God, than 89% of my
fellow New Orleanians. I have been blessed by the prayers of my
relatives and friends. My fortunate circumstances
strengthen my resolve to return permanently, to restore my
house, to help to restore Dillard University and other
educational institutions, to join Dave Brinks and others in
grassroots efforts to prevent the NEW New Orleans from becoming
a “corporate colony” with a minimal non-white population
that is controlled by wealthy and extreme neo-conservatives. I
must encourage more people to return.
The natural disasters that are now elements
of a national tragedy persuade me to fight a repetition of the
Reconstruction era and the nadir of African American
experiences, to speak loudly against a replay of the Great
Migration. Commitments must gradually erase the depression and
periods of near-insanity that have afflicted me since August 29
2005. I must devote myself to the practice of civic virtue
in New Orleans.
Miriam: By the way, K. Brisbane, who
has entered into the discussion, taught in the AFAM Dept. at
UMBC, and that's where I met her. She's an attorney by
training, who used to do a lot of pro bono work for the poor and
elderly. She now lives in Tobago.
Rodney, I've been off line for a couple of
days, so can't remember whether or not I responded to your
comments, which were very informative.
In this post-Katrina period, we have to come
up with ways to reconnect across class, gender, race, and
political persuasion. I think that these on-line dialogues
have been very informative and energizing, and I just hope that
they will translate into positive actions that will help to
solve some of the problems. Apparently, the idea of
discussion groups has caught on, and so some of us are planning
and plotting to bring that idea into fruition.
Maybe you can get something going in
Baltimore or at UMBC. Do you know Christel Temple in the
AFAM Dept.? She is a former student of mine, who is now on
the faculty there. She is a very dynamic and committed
young woman, who would be very helpful in organizing a
discussion at the University. Then, there is Rudy at
ChickenBones, Herbert at the Pratt, and Floyd Hayes at
Hopkins—all of whom would be helpful to you in any type of
I understand from Herbert that Kalamu ya Salaam
will be at the Pratt on Nov. 4th. He is a dynamic writer
and cultural activist from New Orleans, who has joined the ranks
of the evacuated. Take care and keep up the good work. A luta
posted 7 October 2005
* * * *
A Huey P. Newton Story 2001 /
What We Want, What We Believe The Black Panther Party Library
The Spook Who Sat By the Door /
Passin' It On; The Black Panthers' Search for Justice
* * *
* * *
The Persistence of the Color Line
Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency
By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about
The Persistence of the Color Line
is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the
positions about Mr. Obama staked out by
black commentators on the left and
right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel
West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley.
He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr.
Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism
regarding whether blacks should back
Obama” . . .
finest chapter in
The Persistence of the Color Line
is so resonant, and so personal, it
could nearly be the basis for a book of
its own. That chapter is titled
“Reverend Wright and My Father:
Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”
Recalling some of the criticisms of
America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s
former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with
feeling about his own father, who put
each of his three of his children
through Princeton but who “never forgave
American society for its racist
mistreatment of him and those whom he
most loved.” His father distrusted
the police, who had frequently called
him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr.
Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad
Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never
called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places
his father, and Mr. Wright, in
sympathetic historical light.
* * *
The Price of Civilization
Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity
Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Price of Civilization is a book
that is essential reading for every
American. In a forceful, impassioned, and
personal voice, he offers not only a searing
and incisive diagnosis of our country’s
economic ills but also an urgent call for
Americans to restore the virtues of
fairness, honesty, and foresight as the
foundations of national prosperity. Sachs
finds that both political parties—and many
leading economists—have missed the big
picture, offering shortsighted solutions
such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to
address complex economic problems that
require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that
we have profoundly underestimated
globalization’s long-term effects on our
country, which create deep and largely unmet
challenges with regard to jobs, incomes,
poverty, and the environment. America’s
single biggest economic failure, Sachs
argues, is its inability to come to grips
with the new global economic realities.
Sachs describes a political system that has
lost its ethical moorings, in which
ever-rising campaign contributions and
lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the
citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn
the crisis around. He argues persuasively
that the problem is not America’s abiding
values, which remain generous and pragmatic,
but the ease with which political spin and
consumerism run circles around those values.
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 20 April 2010