MOVE, Panthers and Poets: Malcolm X Commemoration Committee Celebrates Black August In “Little Harlem”

Got this in the transom! Made some minor edits. Glad to post it!

MXCC FREEDOM FIGHTER TRIBUTE BLAZES BLACK AUGUST HOT!
by ‘littleRed

QUEENS, N.Y.–The Malcolm X Commemoration Committee’s Annual Freedom Fighter Dinner Tribute blazed in a powerful Black August afternoon at the Langston Hughes Community Library last Saturday!

A standing-room-only audience saw MXCC join forces the National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party for an afternoon loaded with emotional gravity and historic dimensions.

The historic dimensions are pointed. The Library is in the neighborhood where Malcolm himself lived in those intense times of struggle representing our people’s struggle and from where the unsung but legendary Queens chapter of the Black Panther Party would leap onto the stage of history.

Many may know of the incredible story of the founding chapter of the Party in Oakland in their first skirmishes with the police and city officials over the need a traffic light at a key point that busy West Oakland community. The same is so for the Panthers of Corona, Queens, detailed Panther veterans Yasmeen Sutton, Cyril Innis, and Claudia Williams.

“We did all those other things.

“We got petitions signed.

“We went to council meetings.

“We did all those they said we were supposed, but it wasn’t until we shut down the streets and the traffic that we really made difference,” Williams said.

It goes further. The Black Panther Party, their presence and insistence over a building being demolished in a neighborhood, also fought for the very creation of what became The Langston Hughes branch of the Library.

“They used to call this community ‘little Harlem’ because of this Library, because of the stars and leaders who lived in this community and because of us (referring to the Panthers),” said an insistent Cyril Innis.

The Library, nicknamed “The Schomburg of Queens,” is fully decorated with local and global images of African American History and Art, by the way. The gallery just outside of the auditorium where the event was held was resplendent with an incredible exhibit of Sophia Dawson’s “To Be Free,” her enormous portraits of current U.S.-held political prisoners!

This was also the first time the now-time-honored event was held during Black August, the Panther-launched time for the appreciation of the martyrdoms of George and Jonathan Jackson and hugely important Black revolutionary uprisings and for generating support for Political Prisoners.

“So when we are talking about Nat Turner and Boukman and Dessalines and the mighty ancestors of the Haitian Revolution, the one we won.

“ When we look at the valor of George and Jonathan–I mean, Jonathan, 17 years old, leading a bold military extraction mission–when we look at that, we are looking the fact that there are going to be times when the spirit of our boldest ancestors who took the fight for our freedom into the own hands by any means necessary emerges in the present in that same bold way and we need to push that energy forward among more of us now,” said an impassioned Zayid Muhammad, who stewarded the night for MXCC.

Political Prisoners Mutulu Shakur and Russell “Maroon” Shoatz have Black August birthdays and their families were well represented by their children as was Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Veronza Bowers and Kamau Sadiki. The MOVE Organization and Mumia Abu-Jamal were represented this year not only by Pam Africa, but recently MOVE political prisoners Janet and Janine Africa after 41 years! They survived a bulldozing, water-hosing and shooting by Philadelphia Police back on Aug. 8, 1978, and Janet, Janine were among those MOVE members imprisoned and subsequently dubbed “The MOVE 9.” Only Delbert Africa and Chuckie Africa remain in prison from that ordeal. They are up for Parole Consideration again in September, as is Jalil Muntaqim, who has now been in prison for 48 years!

Incredibly, the gathering, now its 24th year, was also held on the Black August anniversary of beloved N.Y. Panther Safiya Bukhari, who passed on Aug. 24, 2003, at only 53.

Organizers presented the event with a special intensity because most of the political prisoners represented by their families are facing very serious medical challenges. “Maroon” Shoatz and Chuckie Africa are now battling cancer. Kamau Sadiki is facing vascular challenges that almost led to the amputation of his foot. Delbert Africa just survived a kidney failure scare. Imam Jamil Al-Amin, now 75, just survived what is reported to be a minor stroke.

The community was culturally treated to Ngoma, endearingly called “the artistic army of one” in spoken-word circles. His video piece “The Real Panthers Ain’t In Wakanda,” is buzzing on social media. Regtuiniah Reg did a poem dedicated to Black August and Ksisay Sadiki, the daughter of Kamau Sadiki but perhaps better known as an emerging filmmaker, provided everyone with a taste of “First Born,” her one-woman show on her relationship with her courageous father.

©2019

The First Excerpt From My New Book, “Marvel’s Black Panther: A Comic Book Biography, From Stan Lee To Ta-Nehisi Coates” (Diasporic Africa Press)……

 

…..can be found here.

Book Review: Black Power, Explained In “Documentary Comic” Form

Fanon cover Malcolm X CoverCivil Rights coverBPP cover

 

Civil Rights For Beginners (2016).
Paul Von Blum. Illustrations by Frank Reynoso, et. al.
Foreword by Peniel E. Joseph.
Danbury, CT: For Beginners Books.
ISBN-10: 1934389897; ISBN-13: 978-1934389898.
161 pp., $15.95.

Malcolm X For Beginners (1992).
Text and Illustrations by Bernard Aquina Doctor.
Danbury, CT: For Beginners Books.
ISBN-10: 1934389048; ISBN-13: 978-1934389041.
186 pp., $16.99.

Black Panthers For Beginners (1995).
Herb Boyd. Illustrations by Lance Tooks.
Danbury, CT: For Beginners Books.
ISBN-10: 193999439X; ISBN-13: 978-1939994394.
154 pp., $15.95.

Fanon For Beginners (1998).
Text and Illustrations by Deborah Wyrick, Ph.D.
Danbury, CT: For Beginners Books.
ISBN-10: 1934389870; ISBN-13: 978-1934389874
184 pp., $15.95.

 

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party. Although the Black Power movement officially began months earlier, with Stokely Carmichael, stalwart of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, publicly using the term in Alabama, for this writer the Black Power movement started when two brothers met in Oakland and, borrowing a symbol that SNCC was politically organizing with, developed a 10-point program for Black liberation. Under Carmichael, SNCC stood with the Congress of Racial Equality as the Black Power wing of the Freedom Movement, with an emphasis on organizing Black people to see themselves as members of self-determining Black communities, of miniature Black/African nations in the land of the thief, home of the slave.

Providing art and information to The People—like Fannie Lou Hamer, formally uneducated but politically astute—was a priority for the Black Power Movement. Africana Studies, an idea that had just begun to be implemented in American academia, was still being written in the streets in blood, footnoted with broken glass and Molotov cocktails.

The “For Beginners” books series, originally published by Writers and Readers, are books for The People. The company describes what it produces as “documentary comicbooks.” Being a little more precise, what they create, actually, are well-researched introductory books about complex topics and personalities illustrated by drawings that oftentimes mimic comicbook style. These four books listed were chosen to highlight and celebrate the Black Power movement through their collective analysis and unique presentation. (Although, it is known that this idea is far from new: the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a white liberal group, published “Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story” in 1957, and Julian Bond published an anti-Vietnam comicbook targeting the Black community ten years later.)

The publisher allows description and explanation on its authors’ terms. Von Blum’s book, for example, takes the entirety of Black history and describes it through the lens of the Civil Rights Movement, reminding the reader that Ida B. Wells sat down and refused to move on a train before Rosa Parks was even a gleam in one of her parents’ eyes. It mentions unheralded actors such as the Southern Tenants Farmers Union, which held a sit-in in the U.S. agriculture secretary’s office in 1934. Doctor’s book on Malcolm is a wonderful text-collage combo (done in the pre-digital era!) that is not afraid to go for the symbolic image: seeing a tiny Malcolm being held in the palm of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”’s “Sophia” (Bea), his white lover, makes the statement. Doctor provides an impressionistic history of Malcolm—a story of Black ideas that override chronology (and unfortunately, sometimes biographical facts) and ideological complexity.

Out of the four, the two that stand out overall are Boyd’s BPP and Wyrick’s Fanon. Wyrick blasts the complex Fanon into understandable chunks of intellectual peanut brittle, explaining and dissecting, critiquing and footnoting. Her thoughtfulness, care and talent shows through, since her own illustrations do a wonderful job of supplementing and complementing her deceptively simple text. Her closing chapter on Fanon’s multifaceted legacy, and her beautifully crafted first-person epilogue, is alone worth every tree that was sacrificed to make this book. Boyd’s snappy, bouncy prose style is more than equaled by Tooks’ energetic, playful art. (This reviewer wishes that the publisher would have made Von Blum follow the Boyd/Tooks model, instead of providing dry, trying-to-get-tenure academic text punctuated by even drier art by the Civil Rights book’s main artist, Reynoso. Liz Von Notias, sadly a supplementary artist for the text, provides the narrative’s more vibrant, alive drawings.) Boyd quotes from most of the Panther scholarship that existed at the time of publication, creating a mosaic of first-person recollections from Panthers as well as its public enemies and private informants. The sections on sexism within the BPP and the Huey Newton/Eldridge Cleaver split is very strong, as is the tracing of police plant Gene Roberts from Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity to the Panthers.

With the exception of Von Blum’s Civil Rights, which was published this year, the major problem with these books is that they desperately need updating. For example, at least a score of studies, anthologies, memoirs and biographies have been published on the Black Panther Party since Boyd and Tooks, and Boyd himself is the co-editor of “The Diary of Malcolm X,” a 2014 book that, like “Blood Brothers,” the recent Randy Roberts/Johnny Smith narrative history on Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, must be incorporated into Doctor’s almost 25-year-old “For Beginners” text. The books also can be editorially uneven; for example, some titles have indexes and some don’t. That sloppiness should not be tolerated.

In spite of these flaws, these books need to be supported by The People. (With the eight-year White House national experiment with being adjective-less “Americans” almost over, it’s time for Black America to go back to its socio-historio-cultural basics.) They need to be purchased and passed out to the Black masses, of any age, who, like the high school seniors and college freshmen the “For Beginners” series is apparently targeted to, may be intimidated by “serious,” “scholarly” texts. Google Search, Wikipedia and YouTube need not have the first, and last, word when it comes to African/Black leaders and movements. As unlikely as it seems, mass political education of The People might only be a few million “documentary comicbooks” away.

My Root Article On U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) And His “Graphic Memoir”…..

John Lewis

………..is here.