How Afro-Colombians Bear the Brunt of US-backed Violence in Colombia

During the BWFJ’s 31st Annual Martin Luther King Support for Labor Banquet attendees received a powerful message of solidarity from the PCN-Processo de Communidades Negras or Process of Black Communities of Colombia. It was delivered by Sister Margaret Machado. She thanked the organization for their support over the years and linked the struggle of African descendents in the US with those in Colombia. Following is an article that appears on the Uprising Radio site with audio of a interview with Charo Mina-Rojas another PCN leader.

A free trade pact signed by the US with Colombia is being criticized for not including human rights protections. Over the past 3 years more than 70 labor union activists have been killed in the country known as the US’s strongest ally in Latin America.

US ties with Colombia also extend to direct military assistance in the “War on Drugs” under the guise of which thousands were killed, farmlands fumigated, and paramilitary groups flourished. Today Colombia has one of the highest rates of violence in Latin America.

Within Colombia, class, race, and gender divisions exacerbate existing problems, just as in any country. Colombians of African descent, face the brunt of physical and economic violence.

Afro-Colombians are the third largest group of African-descended people outside the continent of Africa, behind Brazil and the US. One point five million Afro-Colombians have reportedly been internally displaced, and women in that community have faced the brunt of sexual and physical violence.

- See more at: http://uprisingradio.org/home/2014/04/14/how-afro-colombians-bear-the-brunt-of-us-backed-violence-in-colombia/#sthash.Xf8DCh9l.dpuf

afro colombia001 A free trade pact signed by the US with Colombia is being criticized for not including human rights protections. Over the past 3 years more than 70 labor union activists have been killed in the country known as the US’s strongest ally in Latin America.

US ties with Colombia also extend to direct military assistance in the “War on Drugs” under the guise of which thousands were killed, farmlands fumigated, and paramilitary groups flourished. Today Colombia has one of the highest rates of violence in Latin America.

Within Colombia, class, race, and gender divisions exacerbate existing problems, just as in any country. Colombians of African descent, face the brunt of physical and economic violence.

Afro-Colombians are the third largest group of African-descended people outside the continent of Africa, behind Brazil and the US. One point five million Afro-Colombians have reportedly been internally displaced, and women in that community have faced the brunt of sexual and physical violence.

- See more at: http://uprisingradio.org/home/2014/04/14/how-afro-colombians-bear-the-brunt-of-us-backed-violence-in-colombia/#sthash.Xf8DCh9l.dpuf

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Chokwe Lumumba Be Like Him: Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

ChokweWe are gathered here in Jackson, Mississippi and throughout the country, as we mourn the transition of our Comrade, brother, friend, and member of our family Comrade Chokwe Lumumba. As we observe his body Laying in State, an honor befitting of a Freedom Fighter, and fighter for human rights, we offer our sincere condolences to the Lumumba family.

Comrade Chokwe was part of the Black liberation movement. It anchored him in the struggles against forces and systems that cause the oppression and suffering of people of African descent in the U.S. and all oppressed and exploited peoples throughout the world.  He was a revolutionary human rights fighter struggling with others to create a better world.

Whatever Chokwe did, whether it was as a father, a basketball coach, a people’s lawyer or the leader of a revolutionary organization, he selflessly put his heart into it.

Comrades jailed and placed in torturous solitary confinement for long periods of time and forced into political exile resulting from their actions in fighting against the forces of oppression, trusted Chokwe to take their cases. They knew that he treated the courts like another battleground in the struggle for liberation.

In 2005, the devastation in the Gulf caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the failure of the federal government to deal with repairing the substandard levees in New Orleans, caused the flooding of over 100,000 homes and businesses. This was compounded by a strategy of ethnic cleaning seeking to eliminate the Black majority.  Comrade Chokwe and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) were instrumental in hosting the National Survivors Assembly in Jackson. Several hundred survivors dispersed to cities across the U.S. attended the National Survivors Assembly to represent the hundred’s in those cities to participate in developing the demands and a program to launch a Reconstruction Movement.

Katrina/Rita Survivor Assemblies were the initial organizing bodies for Survivors in the various cities before and after the National Survivors Assembly.  They connected the Survivors and their allies to the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Movement that engaged in many battles against federal, state and local government and white supremacist attacks on the people.  What we referred to today as the Jackson Peoples Assembly grew out of the Jackson Survivors Assembly of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Movement.

When Chokwe decided to run for the Jackson City Council, the People’s Assembly became part of the framework for building democratic people’s governance in his City Council district. The People’s Assemblies are consistent with the aims of the unfinished Gulf Coast and South wide Reconstruction Movement and represent a fundamental aspect of the struggle for self-determination to build and exercise democratic people’s power and control over the economic, social and political resources, and to contribute to setting a new direction for struggles throughout the country. The People Shall Decideslogan of Comrade Chokwe’s mayoral campaign epitomizes the democratic principles of the demand for self-determination.

The Jackson-Plan, a basic program and vision that Comrade Chokwe and the MXGM sought to organize the social movements, mass organizations, institutions and the people around, was critical to creating a political climate that would enable the Chokwe administration to push the Jackson city government forward in implementing aspects of the Plan’s transitional program.

The very talk about a people’s solidarity economy, the plans to hold an economic conference in Jackson on worker cooperatives, and supporting the 50th Anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project that will bring many old and new Freedom Fighters back into Mississippi, made clear that the Chokwe administration was not planning on carry out business as usual.

There was great excitement among revolutionary and progressive forces in movements and governments throughout the U.S. and internationally, about the election of Comrade Chokwe. They recognized the importance of the City of Jackson as a new battlefront in Mississippi and the South for the Black liberation movement led program for people’s democratic governance.  With 31% of the US Gross National Product (GNP), the combined Domestic State Products of the South is $3.73 trillion, making it the world’s fourth largest economy following Japan.  It is a strategic region for U.S. and global capitalism and for a major part of the U.S. imperialist military industrial complex.

Comrade Chokwe’s election as Mayor of Jackson occurred in the current period of growing mass resistance developing throughout the South and nationally challenging the corporate financed right-wing takeover of state governments. The attacks on the policies, gains and organizations that provide basic democratic protections against social and political oppression and worker exploitation, is the program of corporate power to place the burden of the economic crisis on the working-class and the poor. The Chokwe administration and the Jackson-Plan were becoming positioned to contribute to the further shaping of this mass resistance that is being promoted by social movements like Moral Mondays.

While the Chokwe administration and the Jackson-Plan would represent part of the defensive struggle, it offered the potential as a battlefront for the beginning of a counter-offensive. This counter offensive can establish a direction of building bases for democratic people’s governance and self-determination toward shaping an alternative to the exploitation, social decay and human suffering of the capitalist system.

The transition of Comrade Chokwe Lumumba, while a great loss for this new battlefront, must also be a clarion call for the redoubling of our efforts to unite the forces of the Black liberation and the people’s movements for human rights and revolutionary change to press forward. We must help to further build and support this new battlefront in carrying forward Comrade Chokwe Lumumba’s vision and spirit of Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

Comrade Chokwe this is not the end, we will be together in the Revolutionary World Win!

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Black Workers For Justice

March 7, 2014

Tens of Thousands in North Carolina Vow ‘Not Now, Not Ever’

Willamor photo croppedExcerpted from http://www.labornotes.org/2014/02/tens-thousands-north-carolina-vow-not-now-not-ever

Tens of thousands of marchers took to the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina, Saturday to show their opposition to the extreme right-wing agenda that has gripped the state since the Tea Party gained control of the legislature and governor’s office.

The march and rally were called a Moral March—in connection with the sustained Moral Monday protests that resulted in nearly 1,000 arrests for civil disobedience during the spring and summer of 2013.

The diverse thousands who descended on the Capitol came from all over North Carolina and 32 other states, and represented a broad array of social justice movements. Labor, environmental, women’s rights, youth, LGBT, health care, and teachers groups joined with civil rights and faith-based organizations to hold what may have been the largest march and rally in the South since the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965.

Youth groups from across the country who were planning events for the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer joined the events and held their own conference.

The Moral March was a continuation of the HKonJ Peoples Assemblies that have grown in size each year, reaching 10,000-15,000 last year on the seventh anniversary of the original event. (HKonJ refers to “hundreds of thousands” on J Street, where the Capitol is located.)

This year’s phenomenal numbers can be attributed to the outrage of North Carolinians in response to, among other things, the governor’s refusal to accept federal money to extend Medicaid for 500,000 uninsured people, cutting extended unemployment benefits for 150,000 workers, and passing an extremely restrictive voter suppression bill.
With attacks on women’s reproductive rights, labor rights, and LGBT families added to the toxic mix, thousands decided to take a stand.

Labor Shows Up

Unions and labor groups joined in with spirited delegations. United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 150, Food and Commercial Workers, Teamsters, and Farm Labor Organizing Committee had the most notable groups.

Labor delegations from out of state included 1199 (health care workers) from New York City, the Carolina Alliance for Fair Employment from South Carolina, and individuals from New Jersey, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, and other states.

A large teachers delegation from the North Carolina Association of Educators wore red as part of their campaign calling on teachers not to sign individual employment contracts that would require them to give up tenure in exchange for five yearly bonuses.

Fast food workers formed another of the more exciting delegations, wearing red knit caps with the slogan “Raise Up.” Dozens came from North and South Carolina and Georgia. They conducted strikes in August and December last year, and have had a constant presence in the Moral Monday movement.

“I felt awesome about the march and being a part of a movement for justice, fighting the man, and it was like we were back in the 1960s,” said Morgan Greene, a Taco Bell worker from Charlotte. “It was amazing to see so many causes out there—like women’s rights, civil rights, equality, and more… We gotta keep on pushing. We’re having an impact: Obama raising the minimum wage to $10.10 [for federal contract workers] shows we’re being heard and gotta keep pushing forward for $15.”

North Carolina AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan opted for a poem rather than a traditional speech. The last three stanzas reflect the emphasis the national federation promises to put on Southern organizing:

The bosses want their workers cheap,
Meek and docile like sheep.
They move their companies South,
Hoping we won’t give them any mouth.

Well, imagine their surprise
As they watch the South arise.
From the mountains to the sea,
Black, white, and brown agree.

Now is the time to take a stand
For justice throughout this land.
That’s why we’ll organize every workplace, every town,
And there’ll be no stopping us, no backing down.

Civil Disobedience Next

UE 150 Vice President Larsene Taylor said Governor Pat McCrory’s effort to enshrine the Jim Crow-era ban on public employee collective bargaining (via a constitutional amendment) would “strip away the already weak rights of unions and the working class.

“We need a Workers’ Bill of Rights made into law that supports and guarantees basic human rights for all workers,” she said.

The Southern Workers Assembly, a new regional rank-and-file alliance, marched with a casket signifying the number of deaths— 2,840—that are predicted as a result of the failure to extend Medicaid coverage.

They also demanded that charges be dropped against all those arrested during the Moral Monday protests. Many have been found guilty of some or all charges against them, and are appealing. SWA and the U.S. Human Rights Network say the charges criminalized protest and represented a violation of human rights protected by international conventions.DSC_0344

Rev. William Barber, North Carolina NAACP president, laid out the movement’s current demands, which put labor and economic justice at the top of the agenda:

Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability
Provide well-funded, quality public education for all
Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice across all the state’s communities
Address the continuing inequalities in the criminal justice system and ensure equality under the law for every person, regardless of race, class, creed, documentation, or sexual preference
Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly, and students, to safeguard fair democratic representation.
The crowd responded with cheers and shouts when Rev. Barber said the march and rally were the start of a new season of mobilization that will include civil disobedience, voter registration, and legal action.

Outside Agitators

When the Moral Monday protests launched last year, the governor and the Republicans contended that the participants and arrestees were “outside agitators,” a return to the white supremacist mantra used during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s.

The charge was false, but in response the NAACP invited others to join the movement. Many have answered the call, both out of solidarity and out of an understanding that North Carolina is ground zero for the anti-worker, anti-women, and racist legislative agenda being promoted by the Koch Brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Moral Movements have sprung up in Georgia and South Carolina. Activist groups in many other states are considering taking up the same approach in response to austerity budgets and attacks on the poor.

In his keynote address, Barber described the attacks on the quality of life in North Carolina as “low.” The crowd responded “that’s low” after each one. He intoned that the people will not accept these policies—“not now, not ever.” He ended with a call for the movement to push the state and the nation to seek “higher ground.”

It’s hard to imagine that we can go any lower in terms of workers’ rights and economic justice in North Carolina and the rest of the country. But it is indeed possible—and probable—without a rigorous response like that emerging in North Carolina.

Ajamu Dillahunt is a retired Raleigh Area Local Postal Workers president, a member of the Black Workers for Justice Coordinating Committee, and a former Labor Notes Policy Committee member.

Go here and here to see videos of the crowds who marched and danced through Raleigh’s streets February 8.

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Moral Mondays: the Emergence and Dynamics of a Growing Mass Human Rights Movement

This article  by Saladin Muhammad is in response to a post on Black Agenda Report  regarding the Moral Monday Movement http://goo.gl/JcwZg9 Introduction  The Moral Mondays Campaign in North Carolina that is mobilizing thousands to speak out against the legislative attacks on … Continue reading

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