Mini-Book Review: Organic Black Feminism Within Traditional Black Community Activism


Lucile H. Bluford and The Kansas City Call: Activist Voice for Social Justice.
Shelia Brooks and Clint C. Wilson II.
Lexington Books. 112 pp., $80.

The story of how Lucile Bluford helped lead Black Kansas City from the late 1960s through the 1980s via her newspaper, The Kansas City Call, is not unusual, as 20th century Black press stories go. And that very normality is what makes this monograph important. When not roadblocked by Black male sexism (and even when they are), Black women seek, and fight, to save, heal and transform the entire Black community–to save it from itself, even if that work results in personal attack and vicious slander. These women, like Bluford, are strategic. And Brooks and Wilson explain that strategic nature, along with that unswerving commitment, in qualitative and quantitative form, showcasing well her roles as local activist, cheerleader and critic. In the Twitter Age, one in which Black feminist perspectives often lead national Black (digital) activist discourse, Bluford’s brand would today hold up as well as her electric typewriter on the book’s cover: she often used a male pseudonym when it was time to talk tough. But that is not the point here, although that historic action of Black press female reporters and editors should be the focus of future 19th and 20th century Black newspaper studies. Happily, there is no attack and slander in Bluford’s story, because she earned the respect of Kansas City as its Black informational leader and independent advocate. Future monographs about 20th century Black press publishers, reporters and editors should explain in further detail the ideological/personal relationships between Black newspaper staffs and Black activists, especially the idea that the Black women who have always driven local Black activism were major portions of these papers’ audiences. But for now, with more books published on Black women journalists in recent years than ever before, academia is now seeing a significant growth in the topic of Black press herstory.

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Why Newark Mayor Ras Baraka Is Getting Re-Elected Tonight

This is a good audio summary from WNYC-FM (New York’s NPR affiliate).  It’s been four years since memory, history and community service collided.

Bashir Akinyele: Why Ras Baraka Is The Only Choice For Newark Mayor

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Bashir Akinyele is one of those veteran revolutionaries that Newark is proud to consistently produce. He is a grassroots activist, a committed public high school history teacher, and a serious thinker.

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He sent the following out this afternoon. It’s about why he thinks Newarkers should re-elect Ras Baraka as mayor.

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The Meaning of Mayor Ras J. Baraka

On May 8, 2018, Black people, Brown people, and Newarkers of all races will go to the polls for the Mayoral election in Newark, NJ.

The two candidates are Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins and incumbent Mayor Ras J. Baraka.

Hands down, Mayor Ras J. Baraka is the most progressive candidate of the two. In fact, he is the most progressive elected official in the state of New Jersey.

Although many of my progressive, revolutionary, pan-Afrikanist, Afrocentric, Black nationalist, and liberal brothers and sister have not come forward on a mass level to give our people a proper analysis of what Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s campaign for re-election in Newark, N.J. means to Black people, oppressed people and for Newarkers, I am not like them, family.

I have been taught and trained better than that in this struggle for self-determination, liberation and power. I understand what a Black leader and a Black elected official is and is not, and the science of electoral politics are in this world.

If you are a progressive, revolutionary, pan-Afrikanist, Afrocentric, Black nationalist, and liberal brother and sister, you still understand that liberation will not come from an elected official or electoral politics! Liberation only comes organically from the masses of the oppressed!

When we have real Black leaders, they lead in the battle to help Black people and oppressed people struggle independently for power. Real Black leaders continuously keep Black elected officials and the system of electoral politics accountable to the people. However, like Malcolm X taught us, we only use Black elected officials and the science of electoral politics as a tool to protect Black and oppressed people’s interests period (e.g., controlling the school board, controlling the police department, controlling city hall, controlling the fire department, etc.)! But Malcolm X also taught us that if we do not have a mass movement to force a Black elected official and the electoral system to support us, then the Black elect official and the electoral system will sell us out whole sale!!! And for the record, many Black officials and the electoral political system have sold Black people and oppressed people out. But Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka has not sold Black and oppressed people out, family!!!!

You see, you must understand something about brother Bashir Muhammad Akinyele: I am a well studied Blackman and Muslim. I have been a community activist for over 30 years. I know that Newark was home to the following: two Black Power conventions, the Black and Puerto Rican Convention, the Congress of Afrikan People, the Committee for a Unified Newark, Black Nia F.O.R.C.E, and the Hip Hop Political Convention. Many of these movements were organized by the Barakas (Daddy, Momma, and sons).

I also know that Mayor Ras J. Baraka has said over and over again, ” Please hold me accountable.” And some people in Newark have done just that, family. But others have gone overboard with their criticisms of the mayor. Why? Because they do not care about the masses. They are not connected to a movement! These people only care about themselves, family! At the same time, I know that some of these people, who are overly critical people, are very misinformed about the issues. On the other hand, others are straight-up informants and government agents!!!

In conclusion, I have met some of the greatest Black and Muslim leaders in the world! I know a sellout from a stand up Blackman or Blackwoman.

Let’s be clear: Mayor Ras J. Baraka is not a Black leader any more, fam. He is an elected official now. However, his ideology and elected office are rooted in helping to provide resources, support, and the protection of our Black and Brown, and Newark’s interests!

Therefore, based on his track record thus far, he has demonstrated that he is not a sellout. He is good for Muslims, Christians, Jews, Black people, Latino people, poor people, gay and lesbian people, poor Whites, working class people, union members, and all Newarkers.

Black Power! All Power to the People! Free the Land! Uhuru! Habari Gani! Hotep! As Salaamu Alaykum!

Bashir Muhammad Akinyele
Educator, Community Activist

Asante Sana, James H. Cone

THANK YOU so much for your work!

I only read one of your books, but I very much enjoyed it and found it very useful!

We are using our liberation intellectuals. Sadly, our current group sees this as just an intellectual pursuit, not a passionate documentation of resistance. Black history is supposed to sting on the page, and people like Cone, Ronald Walters, Lerone Bennett Jr., etc. understood this!