Toward Unity (E12 S3)

Toward Unity (E12 S3)


Just as there are major ideological divides between black nationalists and advocates of civil rights or communist schools of thought, there are also major differences between the various black nationalist organizations that sometimes resulted in conflict. Militant black nationalists such as the Black Panther Party and the cultural nationalist organization, Organization US, were the subject of intense rivalry. In his book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the1960s, Clayborne Carson identified the major ideological divide as”. . . between cultural nationalists who urged blacks to unite around various conceptions of black cultural ideal, and the self proclaimed political revolutionaries who were more likely than cultural nationalists to advocate armed struggle to achieve political or economic goals. Again, what made it appear to be relatively minor differences proved to be a major barrier towards unity as will see the following clip… … In ’65 at most, most of the games segued into political parties, like I mentioned, the Slaussens went into the Black Panther Party but then the other gangs, they kind of identified more with the cultural nationalist group called the US Organization. . . “We have gotten our manhood back by the acts of violence. When a brother throws of brick, or snipes from a building . . . ” These guys had different philosophies. They didn’t really get along with each other’s philosophy. They didn’t believe in what each other were doing. The Panthers were more about confrontation, you know, confronting “the man. ” The US Organization, to my understanding, was a little more abstract about their rage. Well, I’m a little more aggressive. I can fight a little better. I’m a little stronger, so I’ll go with Bunchy, and them. And the guys who couldn’t fight so well– the guys who wanted to be more “jazzy jazzy, ” went with Karenga. The kinds of things that Maulana Karenga was saying in the first speech I heard, clicked with me in terms of black people seizing their own destiny and to express that through political power. To seize political power through a self affirmation of who black people were. Given that both organizations had been recruiting strongly from gang structures, you can see the beginnings of some confrontations. Karenga and all of those people from US Organization were “armchair revolutionaries, “as far as Bunchy was concerned. Bunchy was a Slaussen. A lot of that, again, was being acted out at that point through a politicized environment. Although there were significant differences of opinion the framework for unity did exist and was being forwarded under the banner of pan-Africanism. Pan Africanism– one of the six elements of black nationalism–is the notion that people of color worldwide shared a common anticolonial and anti-imperialist agenda. As we’ve seen in Episode 2: The Significance of Black Studies, often times the experiences of other oppressed groups and the instructive and offer much toward our own understanding of our struggle. In the case of black nationalism the anticolonial movement in Indonesia served as a valuable lesson. The first president of the independent country of Indonesia, President Sukarno, played a key role in bringing together delegations from 29 African and Asian nations in the 1955 Bandung Conference. The conference inspired African nations in their quest for independence from colonial rule. The effort in Asia was duplicated on the African continent by Ghana, which was the first African country to gain independence from European colonization under its first present Kwame Nkrumah in 1957. Ghana became a charter member of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, which sought unity amongst African nations and the anticolonial movement. Malcolm X in his historic 1963 speech, “Message to the Grassroots, “lauded the Bandung Conference as instructive for African Americans in pursuit of building unity stating, “Once you study what happened at the Bandung Conference and the results of the Bandung Conference, it actually serves as a model for the same procedure you and I can use to get our problems solved.” Inspired by both the Bandung Conference and anticolonial struggles on the African continent, Malcolm X founded the organization of Afro-American Unity as a coalition of organizations modeled after the Organization of African Unity. In a statement Malcolm X proclaimed, “We Afro-American people will launch a cultural revolution which will provide the means for restoring our identity that we might rejoin our brothers and sisters on the African continent culturally, psychologically, economically, and share with them the sweet fruits of freedom from oppression and independence from racist governments. Further and another historic speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet, ” on April 3, 1964, Malcolm X established a framework for intergroup cooperation and collaboration that did not demand that organizations become subordinate or merge with one particular group but only required them to adhere to the broad principles of black nationalism and simultaneously remain independent and autonomous. He proclaimed, “If the NAACP is preaching and practicing the gospel of black nationalism, join the NAACP. Join any organization that has a gospel as for the uplift of the black man.” Maulana Karenga was also inspired by Bandung. He used the Indonesian motto, “Unity in Diversity, “to describe his own formula for African American solidarity which he termed, “Operational Unity. “Using the operational unity approach, Karenga formulated a theory that allowed for cooperation between several umbrella organizations and coalitions that he worked to build. So, we can see a theoretical framework for unity was in place but putting it into practice remains a challenge even in the 21st century. That does for this program please join us on our web site www.africanelements.org or join the discussion in our Facebook group, African Elements. This is Darius Spearman. Thank you for watching.

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