REPARATIONS, AFRICAN LIBERATION DAY AND MALCOLM X

PART I

By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (May 3, 2002)

The Millions For Reparations Rally that will be held in Washington, D. C. on August 17, 2002 will be at the center of our discussions throughout the country, as we celebrate African Liberation Day and Malcolm X’s Birthday during the month of May.

The celebration of African Liberation Day (ALD) in the United States began in May 1972 in Washington, D.C. More than 60,000 people participated in this historic event. Since the untimely assassination of Malcolm in 1965, movement forces throughout the world have consistently commemorated his birthday. Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska.

In Chicago, the National Black United Front (NBUF) is sponsoring an African Liberation Day and Malcolm X Birthday Commemoration, on Friday, May 17, 2002. This celebration will take place at Northeastern Illinois University Center for Inner City Studies, located at 700 East Oakwood Boulevard. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the program will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m.

The keynote speaker at this year’s annual commemoration program will be Sister Ifé Carruthers of the Chicago based Kemetic Institute. Sister Ifé has been a longtime teacher, researcher, and activist in the Pan African / Nationalist Movement for over thirty-years. Her topic for the evening is, "The Life of Malcolm X and His Significance to the Reparations Movement." The program will also feature special tributes to NBUF Ancestors: Charles "Chaka" Gant, Erma James, Essie Threet, and Robin Sewell.

It was on February 21, 1965 that Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, New York by forces that were trying to stop his impact on our movement. They were not successful. He will forever remain our "Shining Black Prince."

Malcolm X is a man that should be studied carefully in our efforts to examine a critical period in our history— the 1960’s. For it was during this period that Malcolm X became an internationally known and respected African in America leader, whose ideas were widely discussed and debated.

From the 1980’s through 1997, NBUF Chicago Chapter sponsored African Liberation Day / ALD on the Westside, where we marched down Madison Street and culminated with a rally and cultural program in Garfield Park. These ALD events have been very successful and we have been honored to sponsor them. In recent years, we have moved the celebration to the Southside of Chicago and have changed the format of our festivities.

African Liberation Day has become an institution throughout the African world. It is a day when all people of African ancestry should come together. Whether you were born in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Jamaica, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Belize, Bahia, Canada, Cuba, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Paris, or Chicago, as long as you are Black, you are an African, with a common heritage, and a common set of conditions.

As we prepare to participate in the upcoming weekend of events and activities, we must always remember the origin and development of African Liberation Day. Our ancestor, Kwame Ture, explained, "ALD was founded by Kwame Nkrumah on the occasion of the First Conference of Independent States held in Accra, Ghana and attended by eight independent states. The 15th of April was declared African Freedom Day to mark each year the onward process of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation."

Further, the AAPRP (All-African People’s Revolutionary Party) points out that, "On the 25th of May 1963, 31 African heads of state convened a summit meeting to found the Organization of African Unity. They proclaimed May 25th as ALD and called for mass demonstrations and manifestations in every corner of Africa and the African Diaspora."

The idea of ALD has its origins in the long history of African people to break free of the yoke of European domination and white supremacy. This is a time in which we emphasize our oneness as a people with a common past, common set of problems, and a common future.

The capturing of millions of African people, who were placed in slavery and introduced into the western hemisphere as property and commodities, is the backdrop upon which we commemorate African Liberation Day.

It was the slave trade industry of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth-centuries involving Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and Germany that served as the foundation for these western powers and provided them the margin of profit in getting the greatest return off of their investment. The western world still seeks to keep Africa and African people worldwide in bondage, so they can continue to maximize the greatest return off of their initial investment.

After chattel slavery was abolished in England and the United States, the slave trade industry began to wind down. The former slave-trading nations found themselves no longer needing slaves, but yet stumbled upon the other natural resources of Africa. They began to fight each other over the gold, diamonds, and other mineral and plant resources they were discovering.

This resulted in the calling of the Berlin Conference in 1884, where the European powers united to divide the continent of Africa among themselves. It has been discussed, historically, that those who control Africa, controls the world. Therefore, the Berlin Conference was a crowning blow in African history. The results of this conference led to the carving up of Africa so that France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and Germany controlled separate territories throughout the continent. This became known as the colonial period in African history. The colonial period in Africa, just as the enslavement of African people captured and brought to North America, had a devastating impact on Africa and African people. It was not until the early 1950’s that the first African country gained political independence in the movement to reclaim Africa. That country was Ghana under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah who led the Ghanaian people in their fight against British colonialism.

I will continue the discussion of the origin and development of African Liberation Day in my next column, as well as the significance of commemorating Malcolm X’s birthday as we prepare for the Millions For Reparations Rally on August 17, 2002 in Washington, D. C. Stay tuned!

 
National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)


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