Archive for John Lewis

Remembering the Heroes of Bloody Sunday

Posted in Bloody Sunday: A Remembrance, Playthell on politics, You Tube Classics with tags , , on March 4, 2019 by playthell
Congressman John Lewis Viciously Beaten as SNCC Leader
A Pivotal Event in the Struggle Against White Supremacy in America

On March 7, 1965, 54 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis of SNCC – now a venerable Democratic Congressman – and other Civil Rights leaders led a March from Selma Alabama to the state capitol of Montgomery to protest the horrible system of white supremacy. Although it was a peaceful march based on the philosophy of “passive resistance, the marchers were viciously attacked by violent white racist!

However the violence of the crazed rednecks back fired because the entire episode was captured on film by the Television networks and broadcast around the world. This was a seminal even in the history of the struggle to dismantle the evil oppressive system of racial caste oppression in the US because it exposed the truth about the bogus claim that America is “the home of the brave and land of the free” where “All men are created equal.”

This was no picayune matter, because the US was locked in an intense ideological struggle with the powerful Soviet Union of Russia to recruit the hundreds of millions of people in the Third World nations of Africa, Asia, South America and the islands of the seas. Most of these millions were living in African and Asian countries that were just throwing of the oppressive yoke of European colonialism in the aftermath of World War II, when European world order had collapsed due to the cost in blood and treasure extracted by the second great war in a generation.  And the US government’s oppression of it’s on citizen’s of color alienated them from America.

There are studies which show the great anxiety of the US government when US Ambassadors, and other diplomats, were accosted by reporters and citizens around the world. For instance, historian Mary L. Dudziak tells us in her path breaking book Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy: “Within this context, racial discrimination, especially when it was broadcast to international audiences, became problematic to the Cold War effort itself.” Representatives of the American government were barraged with questions about the hypocrisy of US claims to being the bastion of freedom and equality, yet keep millions of their citizens in a state of tyrannical oppression that exceeded ANYTHING the US was self-righteously protesting in the communist world!!!

The US government had no answer for this that was not viewed with ridicule, as the masses of African and Asia increasingly either allied themselves with the Communist camp or adopted a non-aligned position that viewed both sides based on how the supported our struggles.  They had no permanent friends or enemies…just permanent interests!

It was this response of the Third world community that served as a major impetus for the US government to act dramatically to eradicate the racial caste system whether by law or or tradition. This march in Alabama 54 years ago was a pivotal event in ending this evil racist system in the United states; 100 years after the end of the Civil War that abolished Afro-American slavery in Alabama and throughout the American south.  It also ended the dominance of The Southern Christian Leadership Conferences’ vision of the Southern struggle.

On the next march – which attracted a vast and diverse gathering and the US government was forced to protect them from violent attacks by white racist terrorists because the eyes of the world were focused like lasers on the march – Stokely Carmichael and H. “Rap” Brown of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, introduced “Black Power”as the slogan,  for their Black Panther political party in Lowndes County / Selma Alabama, where courageous young college students were mobilizing Afro-American citizens to exercise their right to vote.  The introduction of the concept of Black Power and organizing the Black Panther Party qualitatively changed the course of the black liberation movement in the United States.

Watch NBC’s report on the march and hear critical interviews with Dr. King and others who give in-depth analysis of the struggle against racism at the time. This is a priceless, a living archive of the times, whose sense of immediacy is preserved by the miracle of the moving image with sound. Relive this critical event, and feel the tenor of the times at:

https://www.nbcnews.com/video/bloody-sunday-a-flashback-of-the-landmark-selma-to-montgomery-marches-1191243331868

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Playthell G, Benjamin
February 3, 2019
Harlem, New York

Will Wall Street Rebels End Up like Jack the Bear…

Posted in Occupy Wall Street, Playthell on politics with tags , on October 12, 2011 by playthell

Great Passion but little Politics

…..Making tracks but getting nowhere?

In my first commentary on the Wall Street demonstrations I questioned whether this budding movement was revolutionary or anarchistic, and concluded that thus far it was closer to anarchy – which is a synonym for political chaos.  This observation elicited a howl from many of those who support the demonstrators; some even suggested that I opposed them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is because I share their outrage at the Wall Street Robber Barons, and the decadent Plutocracy they serve, that I offer up critical analysis in the hope that it might have some effect on the debate about the direction of this budding movement that has now gone nationwide through the agency of social media.  I want them to succeed in curtailing the power of the Plutocrats, but I know from many years as a participant observer and serious student that all successful mass transformative movements must contain certain factors.

The most important of these factors, after defining the enemy, is to put forth a set of realizable demands around which one can rally and organize the masses.  These demands are defined by what the movement stands for, which is usually determined by ideology.  In the absence of a unifying ideology the movement lacks coherence and thus it becomes unclear what their objectives are and confuses the masses.

The demonstrators say they are patterning their movement after the Mid-East uprisings collectively labeled “The Arab Spring.”  Yet a close look at those social upheavals reveal a world of confusion which could easily end up with the cure being worse than the disease, as governments fall with no organized political formation capable of taking power and governing.

There is no chance of this in the US, because no unorganized rag tag force is going to bring down the American government.  And no highly organized force operating outside of the two party system is going to change the American capitalist system, whether armed or not.  This is the problem I have with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Yesterday I spent considerable time among the demonstrators listening to their vision of the mission they have undertaken.  And I found them as confused as two weeks  before in both their objectives and how to achieve them.  The most common theme in their arguments is that there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans; hence they are above politics!

When John Was their Age 

He was fighting against armed fascist! 

They demonstrators exposed the depth and pervasiveness of this belief by denying Democratic Congressman John Lewis the opportunity to address the demonstrators in Atlanta.  Not only does Lewis share their feelings about the criminal maldistribution of wealth in the US, but when he was their age he was the leader of an organization that played a critical role in a mass movement that qualitatively changed American society for the better.  Here was a staunch ally in Congress who could transform their demands into legislation and put it before the Congress for a vote.

Then the demonstrations would have specific achievable goals to organize their activism around!  They cannot achieve their hopes and dreams by any other method. Yet they turned Congressman Lewis away. If the anti-Wall street rebels do not soon get a grip on political reality –which is to understand how change is actually made in American society – their boisterous demonstrations will be all sound and fury…signifying nothing!  Like Jack the Bear, they will make tracks but get nowhere!

The Beat Goes On! 

Intoxicated by the Afrocentric Polyrhythms

An Aroused citizenry is on the March!

But where are they headed?

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Text and Photos by: Playthell Benjamin

* Picture of John Lewis: Smithsonian Institute

October 10, 2011