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The sons and daughters of Africa have paid a heavy price to build

the great capitals of France, England, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, the United States



Books by James Forman

 The Making of Black Revolutionaries; A Personal Account

 High Tide of Black Resistance   / Sammy Younge, Jr.   

*   *   *   *   *

The Political Thought of James Forman

Edited by the Staff of Black Star Publishing


In January, 1969, James Forman published Sammy Younge, Jr.  , a biography of a young black man who was killed in Tuskeege, Alabama on January 3, 1968.  In order to write that book he interviewed many people, including the mother of Sammy Younge.

Applying the same technique of tape recording interviews, Forman went to Martinique and interviewed the family of Frantz Fanon.  While there he also made an extensive study of the social and political realities of Martinique in order to better understand the early formation of Frantz Fanon.

The “Ten Year Plan” is a letter to two friends Donald and Flora Stone describing the emotions he felt as he interviewed the mother of Frantz Fanon, comparing the life of Sammy Younge Jr., to that of Frantz Fanon.

Forman takes the occasion in this letter to review his organization life for the past ten years and to conclude that all efforts in the seventies must be directed to the organizations of black workers, the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle in the United States.

Forman’s Diary

Sunday, December 21, 1969

2:30 P.M.


Today is Sunday in Fort-De-France.  We are living in the center of town and all is quiet.  Today is the one day that the workers have for rest, a respite from the grueling pace of day to day living in the Antilles.  The heat and the humidity are sometimes formidable, but the courage and endurance of my ancestors swells up in me and gives the fortitude to keep on pushing, trying to learn the Martiniquian reality, its history and contemporary status.  

This is just one aspect of the work I am trying to do here, for as you know I have long been working on the biography of Fanon.  The other two aspects is to interview people who knew Fanon and discuss his thought with some important thinkers of Martinique.

Last night I interviewed his mother who is seventy eight years old.  She is still very strong and healthy although her memory is fading.  This is to be expected.  Few of us will live as long as Dr. W.E.B. DuBois and fewer still have the power of retention that he had at ninety years old should it be our fortune to live that long.  As for me, my dear brother and sister, I am not in the least contemplating living that long and I am happy for each year that I am alive.  

I have lived so close to death for so long that I have learned that each year alive in the type of work that we do is a miracle unto itself.  But my interview with Mrs. Fanon impressed once again upon me the absolute need for historical documentation, and record keeping.  Of course I have just finished reading Dr. DuBois’s autobiography written at the age of ninety and that too impressed the same result upon my consciousness.

Sammy Younge & Frantz Fanon

Mrs. Fanon stated that she had a package of letters that she had been keeping from the time her son went into the army until his death.  She wrapped them in a package and gave them to another one of her sons, Felix, who seems to have misplaced them.  A storehouse of information has been lost, information that would have revealed, perhaps, Frantz Fanon’s attitude about the second world war in which he participated as a fighting soldier.  He was wounded three times in that war and one bullet was quite close to his heart.  It was impossible, therefore, to dislodge.  It stayed with him until his death, Lukemia is unknown in its origin and there is yet no cure.  Perhaps that bullet and the wounds he received might have been a cause.

Our interview was conducted in her dining room around the table.  It lasted for an hour and a half.  Her grandchild, Frantz Fanon, the nephew of the great writer and revolutionary helped us to conduct the interview.  He will translate at a later date the French of his grandmother.  As you know I can speak the language, but not well enough to transcribe tapes.  As I recorded her words, a great sense of history swelled up in me, a sense that I was participating in a moment of enormous value, a moment that I wanted to share with you and Flora, with Joyce and Dorie, with all my friends in Atlanta and all my friends around the world.

It was a moment I lived when I interviewed the mother of Sammy Younge, but the moment was different and yet it was the same.  It was the same moment for I was talking to the mother of another dead hero, another dead black hero, another man of Africa who had given his life to humanity, another man who had paid the same price as a Che Guevara, as a Patrice Lumumba, as a Malcolm X, as a Charles Mack Parker, as a Herbert Lee, as thousands of our brothers and sisters have paid over the years that we have been separated from our native continent, that glorious land which the Western imperialists are raping and plundering, robbing and destroying, choking and suffocating, exploiting and oppressing, mining its riches and stealing its profits, bribing its leaders and starving its children, propping up South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, and Ian Smith, while trying to eliminate Guinea, Tanzania, Congo Brazzville, Sekou Toure and Julius Nyerere.

It was more than the same moment.  It was a different moment, for Mrs. Fanon lived in Martinique while Mrs. Younge lived in Tuskeege, Alabama.  Their life experiences were different.  One suffered under the hands of the racist Americans while the other suffered under the hands of the French.  Mrs. Younge had two children.  Mrs. Fanon had seven.  Sammy Younge died at home at the hands of racist and is buried in Tuskegee.  

Frantz Fanon died far away from Fort-De-France, from  Martinique, from an illness that cut short his revolutionary struggle against the racist French who had dominated his life until he took up arms against them.  Sammy Younge only wrote a few articles for the school newspaper wailing against the system around Tuskegee, Fanon wrote three major books and articles which are founded in a fourth wailing against the total system of racism and colonialism.

It was more the same moment.  Yet, it was a different moment only because the life experiences of Sammy Younge and Frantz Fanon were different, but in their essence it was the same moment, for it was a moment of talking to two mothers, both of whom grieved and cried over their sons as they recalled their memories, both of whom had  preserved various papers from the military to show their sons participation in the corrupt armies of their oppressors, both of whom understood their sons belonged to history and who had made a historical contribution to the liberation of man.

Hence, the difference in the life patterns of a Mrs. Younge and a Mrs. Fanon, of both of their sons becomes only a matter of the smallest detail in the broad span of history which the sons and daughters of Africa have written in blood, sweat, slavery, the sugar cane fields of the Antilles, the cotton fields of North America, the heat of a Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Martinique, the chilling cold of Boston, New York, Chicago, and other metropolitan centers of the United States.

It was a moment when I realized once more that all the sons and daughters of Africa have paid a heavy price to build the great capitals of France, England, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, the United States, capitals that flourish now off the backs of all of us who have been dispersed throughout the Western Hemisphere, into the Antilles, North America, from the northern part of Canada to the southern tip of South America.

It was a moment when my insides gripped each other, churned against my stomach, for it was a moment when I had to face once again that the reality of the sons and daughters of Africa is that many of us do not understand our historical relationship to the African continent, do not understand, cannot feel the whip lash of the white bosses over our black mothers and fathers as it sears into their flesh as they swing the machete into the sugar cane or stoop over to grab some cotton from its stalk, the whip lash, searing, bringing forth blood, pain and anguish, muffled groans and loud cries, again, again it comes forth and we do not understand.  

We are colonized.  Slavery was a thing of yesterday, a passing mirage, an accident of history, an unknown, a forgotten quantity, Je suis francais, the Queen of England rules over me, Belgium gave us independence after Livingstone discovered us, I am clean like my Dutch friends, I am an American.

It was a moment of pain when I realized yet another time that the day is still to come when we will shatter the myth of clinging to the allegiance of our colonizers, when we will no longer yell we are French, English, Belgium, Dutch, American, but assert our African allegiance, our black togetherness our desire for Pan African Socialism, an end to racism, colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism.

And the moment of malignant pain endured, lingered on, spreading throughout my body as a cancer when I realized that those of us who lived under the yoke of colonialism were only half of the African experience.  Our brothers and sisters in Africa have forgotten us, the sons and daughters of Africa, their brothers and sisters.  They have a flag, a seat in the United Nations, a capital city, a few French, English or American cars, coca-cola, pepsi-cola, Kodak, First National Bank of New York, Chase Manhattan Bank, Firestone, Goodyear, Kaiser Aluminum, Esso, Standard Oil, United Fruit and all the other trapping of neo-colonialism.

The pain endures, it is malignant because our brothers and sisters have not paid attention to the experiences of those of us who have been wrenched from the shores of Africa.  They have not learned from the catastrophic, the earth shaking dynamics of African history in which more than one hundred million souls of Africans were dispersed throughout the Western world, killed, beaten, brutalized, enslaved with only a few surviving.  

It is not that they have not been told, they have heard many voices crying out at night, wailing at midday, yelling Africa for Africans the world around.  They have heard all of this, they know the definitions of racism, colonialism, capitalism and imperialism.  They have heard but they do not understand.  They too cannot feel the whip lash.  Alas!  They too have been colonialized.  Slavery was a thing of yesterday, a passing mirage, an accident of history, an unknown, a forgotten quantity.

An as Mrs. Fanon speaks of her son, Frantz Fanon, a ray of delicious experiences enters my being like the coolness of rain on a hot tropical day, reminding me of how my grandmother in the heat of a Mississippi day would tickle her toes under the flow of the same cool rain.  My face lights up, my heart is less heavy.  She smiles as she talks of his concern for others, the same trait that led him to Algeria and that drove him to fight with arms against the French.  It is the same moment I experienced with Mrs. Younge who wanted to talk of her son and to tell of his humanity to others.

It was the same moment, two mothers proud of their sons.  Yet it was different for Frantz Fanon spoke to the total African experience and Sammy Younge had been murdered when he was young and have lived enough to record his thoughts on all humanity.  Frantz Fanon spoke to the African experience in the West Indies and Africa and Sammy Younge spoke to the Black experience in the United States.

But the moment was different only in time and place and circumstances of life of both mothers and sons.  But the experience of both sons, Sammy Younge and Frantz Fanon was again the same essence, for both were sons of Africa, proud black men whose voices cried out against racism and exploitation and whose lives were cut short before the world knew what might have been their final contribution to the liberation of man.

Brother Stone and Sister Flora, I have tried to share with you that moment of last night when I began to interview Mrs. Fanon, you who are the second set of grandparents for my son, James Lumumba along with Bobby and Mathew Jones, Donald asked me the last time we met in New York if I would write a piece for the magazine he is going to edit.  He asked if I would delineate from my experience certain concepts that might be useful and point to a direction for struggle in the decade of the seventies.

The Black Vanguard & !970s Repression

I have given much thought to his request.  At the time he made it, I told him much of what I had written should be reproduced but that I wouldn’t write anything unless I felt that I had something fresh to say, some new construction of ideas.  I suggest you print this letter in its entirely, for it is written not only for you but all of my friends.

I am convinced that the decade of the seventies will be one of serious repression for us, black people in the United States.  Although we are black and will suffer the most from repression we must not fail to understand that the racist United States government is going to try to kill all forms of dissent.  The trial of the Conspiracy Eight in Chicago is only the latest example of the repression which will come down on those who are white who are struggling to died with the effects of racism and exploitation upon themselves.

In order to deal with this repression we will have to develop new forms of struggle, not the least of which will be a conspiratorial method of fighting the United States.  All black people are already a conspiracy against the United States.  Since our arrival here we have been treated as if we were permanent conspirators.  We will have to adopt our form of struggle to meet the realities of our lives.

More important than the form of struggle or just as important is the question of our ideology with whom we work.  For years as you know I have been waging a fight against racism, colonialism, capitalism and against imperialism.  I have been vilified throughout the United States for my ideological positions, sometimes by people who were very close to us at one time.  

This has not bothered me, for the ideological struggle is one that must be pursued without any mitigations especially if one thinks he has a correct position and I am absolutely convinced without a doubt, without the least shade of doubt at that, that black people in the United States must see their fight and our struggle as one clearly against racism, colonialism, capitalism and imperialism.  We must not hedge on that.  We must not waver, but we must try to win recruits to our viewpoint.

It is not enough for revolutionary to be against something.  He must fight and be willing to die for something.  Many years ago I came to the conclusion that only socialism will solve the problem of black people and of all humanity and I will not engage in polemics about the various forms of socialism which might exist.  I am talking about the form of socialism which all the wealth of the United States rests with the state for the benefit of all mankind, a form of socialism controlled by the workers, the poor families, and all the other wretched of the American earth.

The type of government I am talking about will have to be created by a ruling party dedicated to socialism and the end of exploitation of man by man.  However, in the reality of the United States which suffers from economic exploitation and racism, the vanguard force of revolutionary change will be black people and my definition of black people are all nonwhites, including Indians, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, people of the Orient.  

You might call them third world, but I think that is a mistake, for they are black people and suffer from the same essence of racism and exploitation by white America that all the African people suffer from.  It would be the mistake of the highest order for those of us who are black and who are from African to fail to consider in our perspective that Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Indians and Orientals are not black.  They certainly are not white.

The black vanguard force which is the cutting edge and real dynamism of the revolutionary movement in the United States must not give up its right to leadership of the revolutionary struggle; otherwise there will be no real consciousness of the effects of racism and concrete efforts to change the racist nature of the United States.  This point must be clearly understood by all black revolutionaries.  This is not a racist position and I do not feel compelled to defend it but I am only delineating its dynamics and interrelationship.  This is absolutely necessary for we must know the type of world in which we wish to live.

Naturally a revolution for socialism cannot end racism in the United States overnight once state power has been acquired and won by armed struggle.  But racism cannot e ever be eliminated unless one has power to control the means of production.  As you know there are some leading personalities in the black movement who think our problem is only one of racism.  These people have not yet acquired sufficient understanding of the economics of the world or either their class positions and material rewards resulting from the advocacy of this position makes them unable to understand that we have both a class and a racial fight and that it is not simply a question of race.

Quite often the dynamics of racism in the United States makes it difficult for some black intellectuals to understand the question of class.  They are perplexed about what to do about white people.  This is a legitimate question and must be understood from the point of view that we have suffered at the hands of white people and it is impossible to ever imagine that there will be white people who will fight imperialism in the United States.  The record does not bear out this conclusion and the recent bombings in New York which may have been committed by some whites stands as proof against this argument.  

Then, too, it is necessary to realize that our revolution is indeed many years off and it is my contention based upon certain experiences that there are and will be whites who will clearly understand the theoretical implications of the theory of the black vanguard leading the fight for world socialism in the United States.  Indeed we will have a material and ideological struggle, but that is all a part of the revolutionary process.

In the final analysis the distribution of power in the United States is yet to be decided an it will not be our generation which will decide that although we have a responsibility to state our position, clearly and without reservation.  As you know I do not run from the ideological struggle and my ideas are out there for the world to judge.

Struggle for World Socialism

Brother Stone and Sister Flora, I am in Martinique precisely because I believe that the ideological struggle is most important and that Frantz Fanon has much to say to those of us who are colonized in the United States.  More than that, if we do not arm ourselves with sound theoretical concepts we will not survive the severe period of repression which is upon us.  

We all know of too many people and leading personalities who have abdicated the struggle inside the United States for various reasons, but one of them comes from not understanding the long term nature of our struggle and a sound theoretical position that our fight is against racism, colonialism, capitalism and imperialism and that world socialism is the only permanent answer to our economic and political exploitation.

Personally, while I believe that ultimately the fight is for world socialism, I am not opposed to short term objectives.  For instance, the issue of Pan Africanism is going to hit the stage inside the United States.  This will be an advancement over many concepts, but it will not be enough if it does not speak to the economic framework of that Pan Africanism.  

For inside Africa today there are many bourgeois nationalists running African governments and exploiting the people in the name of Pan Africanism.  We have the right to at least demand that people regress from Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois who in his later years was pleading for Pan African Socialism.  I am for Pan African socialism if it means taking all the wealth of Africa away from the imperialists and using it for the disposition of all oppressed people.

Our ideological positions must lead us to the position that it is the poor, the working class among black people who must have power.  During the sixties we concentrated too much on the middle class.  Most of the gains except the long range political consciousness have resulted in the middle class of the black community entrenching itself further.  

Our failure to actively work with black workers is a serious indictment of our movement as well as the abdication of our bases in the rural South. 

We made a great mistake when we did not understand the long range importance of holding the power we had acquired in the rural south and using those as revolutionary bases which they were. I cannot stress too much the importance of our working with poor unorganized urban black workers.  Many of them will be employed and most of them will be off and on jobs.

As you know I willingly worked for the Black Panthers because I saw in them an extension of Frantz Fanon’s concept of the lumpen proletariat as being the most revolutionary force in a colonized situation, but since most of the black workers face employment off and on and many are unemployed I think it much better to talk in terms of organizing black workers, but keeping the accent on the youth.

In 1960 I felt that the greatest contradiction inside the United States rested in the deep south where black people were denied voting and public accommodations rights.  I felt that a struggle could be waged there which could develop in time into a very revolutionary struggle once the contradictions inside the United States became popular issues.  The support we are getting from revolutionaries around the world proves that was a correct decision and analysis.  But I must repeat that we made a serious tactical mistake in abandoning those bases of support that we had won through struggle in the deep south.

In 1969 the greatest contradictions are found in the urban ghetto.  Black workers are essential to those ghettoes, which really should be called urban black communities.  This is not suggest that we must go back into the rural south.  We must, but we must concentrate on the urban black communities, especially those cities where black workers are strategically situated near the centers of mass production of the essentials of any industrialized society, steel, coal, automobiles and oil.  We must carry with us the dynamism that we took into the deep South, coupled with our analysis of racism, colonialism, capitalism and imperialism.  

We must learn from the Black Workers and they must become the leaders of the revolutionary movement.  There are some of us who are already and have been working class in our viewpoint with the poorest class of Africans in the United States, the tenant farmer and the sharecropper and the workers of cities in the deep south.  Our abdication of leadership and shift to the urban North left a vacuum that is now being exploited by certain middle class elements.

Hence, my own activity in the seventies will concentrate upon waging the ideological struggle and creating bases in urban black communities centered near the essential means of production.  I shall try to get people back into the rural South and I shall try to forge new unity between workers, farmers, students and street brothers.  

My own ideological thinking has developed tremendously in the last ten years and much of this is due to the writings of Frantz Fanon.  As a people we must try to make him and his ideas a popular hero to black people in the United States and the world around.

One may correctly ask what were the weakness and strengths of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  I am in the process of writing my autobiography in which I deal extensively with this question.  As you know I have finished one half of it and now I am in the process of writing the second half.  

But it is essential to state in this public letter that with all its strength of organizing the rural South and generating a revolutionary thrust around the concept of Black Power, further internationalizing the struggle of black people in the United States, one of the essential weakness was that it kept the poor people, the working class people removed from the center of decision making in its own ranks.  

It never made the shift from a cadre organization to a representative mass movement, although there were several opportunities to do that.  It is my contention that this is rooted in the class nature of the organizers especially after its frontal assault on the racism and exploitation of the Democratic Party in 1964.  The power in the organizing ranks of the cadre shifted from a rural base to an urban middle class orientation and this introduced all the conflicts around power and method of operation.

The problem of the class nature of the organization which I treat extensively in my autobiography is not just a problem isolated to us in the United States.  It is the fundamental plague upon the houses of all revolutionary movements in the colonial world, for most of them have been started by the Western educated elite who have failed to understand that any revolutionary movement cannot succeed if the power of that movement is not in the hands of the poor.  

The class composition of most of the African governments is middle class or petit bourgeois as well as liberation movements in colonized situations.  Until this is changed one will not see much of revolution in colonial territories.  Therefore the problems I raise with regard to SNCC have their relevance the world around, I am convinced.

Basically, the class nature of the organization made it impossible to organize street brothers and carry forth the implications of its raising the Black Panther as a symbol of the political process that black people should carry forth.  That is why it was left to others who understand the streets of the urban ghettoes or urban black communities to organize the Black Panther Party, although the role of certain members of SNCC in that process cannot be minimized.

Armed with a correct ideology—the fight against racism, colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism and for the world socialism—and rooting all efforts to make sure black workers and poor farmers have power and lead the revolutionary struggle, trying to develop all forms of popular struggle and building a network of unknown revolutionaries, preparing for the long range armed struggle inside the United States and uniting workers, students, farmers, and street brothers into a disciplined, centralized, mass political party or workers organization—there can be no doubt that our struggle will advance in the seventies.  

We will be carrying on the work of the late Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Sammy Younge and all the other sons and daughters who have died from the whip lash of racism, colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism.

In brotherhood

Remember Lumumba

*   *   *   *   *

“Naturally a revolution for socialism cannot end racism in the United States overnight once state power has been acquired and won by armed struggle.  But racism can never be eliminated unless one has the power to control the means of production.  As you know, there are some who think our problem is only one of racism.  There people have not yet acquired sufficient understanding of the economics of the world, or either there class positions and materials rewards resulting from the advocacy of this position make them unable to understand that we have both a class and a racial fight.  It is not simply a question of race.” James Forman

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James Forman was born in Chicago in 1928, and grew up in a working-class neighborhood on the city’s South Side.  Upon graduation from high school he entered the Air Force, serving four years there.  A veteran of the Korean War, he continued his formal education during the fifties.

The emerging Civil Rights struggle in the latter fifties—and the Southern student movement in particular—had a stirring effect upon him.  On assignment as a reporter for the Chicago Defender in 1958, Forman traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, to, gather information concerning the aftermath of the school desegregation crisis.  Not content with mere reportage, however, 1960 saw him involved as an activists in Fayette County, Tenn. where he came into contact with the then recently formed Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  

Forman was elected Executive Secretary of SNCC in 1961, a post which he held until 1966, when he resigned.  In 1967, as International Affairs Director of SNCC, Forman traveled extensively throughout the African continent, representing SNCC at the UN International Seminar On Apartheid in Lusaka, Zambia.  In winter of the same year he spoke before the Fourth Committee at the UN.

Seeing in the Black Panthers an “extension of Frantz Fanon’s concept of the lumpenproletariat as … mass revolutionary force in a colonized situation,” Forman assumed the role of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Panthers in February, 1968—a post he resigned the July.  From here he began work on the "Black Manifesto, 1969.A member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit, Forman has recently become Executive Secretary of the International Black Workers’ Congress.

In addition to his daily political activities, Forman is committed to the recording of his experiences on paper—what many other dedicated black revolutionaries in the U.S., unfortunately, have failed to do.  A most important work in his political autobiography, The Making of A Black Revolutionary (Macmillan), to appear in Fall ’71.  More than just a personal analysis, this book delves into the essence of the black struggle as it passed through the forties, fifties, and sixties, with great emphasis placed upon the entire SNCC experience.  Also in progress is a work centered around the life of Frantz Fanon.

Source: The Political Thought of James Forman. Edited by the Staff of Black Star Publishing. Detroit, Michigan, 1970.

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Sammy Younge, Jr. The First Black College Student

to Die in the Black Liberation Movement

By James Forman

Tuskegee native Samuel Younge Jr. (1944-1966) began attending Tuskegee Institute in Macon County in 1965 and advocated for civil rights as a member of the Tuskegee Institute Advancement League. Younge campaigned for racial equality across Alabama and in neighboring Mississippi before his shooting death in Macon County in 1966.

Four months later, Younge was again working a voter-registration drive in Macon County. On January 3, 1966, after he tried to use the whites-only bathroom at a Standard Oil gas station, Younge was shot and killed by attendant Marvin Segrest. He was the first African American student activist killed during the civil rights movement. In the days following his death, thousands marched through the streets of Tuskegee in outrage over the treatment of blacks within the city.

His shooting death at a Macon County service station became a rallying point for opponents of racial inequality during the late 1960s. Despite the demonstrations, Segrest was not indicted for Younge's murder until November 1966 and was found innocent by an all-white jury the following month. Younge's death also spurred action from SNCC, which called a press conference on January 6, 1966, to declare its opposition to the war in Vietnam, the first statement of its kind by a civil rights organization. Younge's death was highlighted at the press conference as an example of the hypocrisy of fighting for freedom abroad while rights were denied in the United States and was used as a call for people to refuse the draft and work for freedom at home instead.Encyclopedia of Alabama

*   *   *   *   *

The Making of Black Revolutionaries

By James Forman

This eloquent and provocative autobiography, originally published in 1972, records a day by day, sometimes hour by hour, compassionate account of the events that took place in the streets, meetings, churches, jails, and in people's hearts and minds in the 1960s civil rights movement.

James Forman's The Making of Black Revolutionaries is a classic, a personal, no holds barred inside look at the civil rights movement. Written by an insider, it offers an invaluable look at the politics and the personalities that shaped the movement and continue to shape American life.—Julian Bond

The Making of Black Revolutionaries was the most ambitious, politically astute, and emotionally engrossing memoir to emerge from the 1960s. Anyone interested in understanding the present state of Black politics should read this outstanding example of engaged historical analysis.—Clayborne Carson, Stanford University

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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Southern Freedom Movement Web Links   /  Movement Bibliography

Movement Veterans Home Page  /  Museums, Academic Centers, History Projects & Government Sites

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On YouTube

James Forman Talking about George Wallace  / James Forman: Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee

 James Forman: Discussion with Martin Luther King, Jr.  /  James Forman: Becoming an Honor Student

James Forman: Albany, Georgia Movement  /  James Forman: Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee

James Forman: The Black Panthers  /  James Forman: Response to Reparations

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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 Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music)





update 24 September 2012




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Related files: The Political Thought of James Forman  Control, Conflict, and Change    Forty Years of Determined Struggle  

Big Tom the Red  Benjamin J. Davis Bio  William Paterson Bio  I Tried to Be a Communist  Communism as Russian Imperialism