What a wonderful life to share. On December 15, , he marched at the head of two thousand Southern University students seven miles from campus to downtown Baton Rouge to support fellow students jailed for picketing. Baton Rouge police dispersed the peaceful crowd with dogs and tear gas and arrested many participants.
After his ejection, Bailey continued his academic journey north to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where liberal white students had established a scholarship for civil rights activists. Bailey sustained and expanded his activism in the North, and he provides invaluable eyewitness accounts of many major events from the civil rights era, including the protests in Washington D.
He sheds new light on the March on Washington by exploring the political forces that seized the march and changed its direction.
In riveting detail, Bailey recalls several days he spent hosting Malcolm X as a guest speaker at Clark, hanging out with Abbie Hoffman in the early days of the Worsester Student Movement, and personal interactions with other civil rights icons, including the Reverend Will D. Moving, powerful, and intensely personal, The Education of a Black Radical offers an inspirational tale of hope and a courageous stand for social change.
Moreover, it introduces an invigorating role model for a new generation of activists taking up the racial challenges of the twenty-first century. Table of Contents. Cover Download Save. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication pp. Contents pp.
Illustrations pp. Foreword pp. Acknowledgments pp. Introduction pp. Growing Up in Memphis pp. On to Scotlandville pp. Protest Comes to Scotlandville pp. Klieg Lights and Microphones pp.
How to Kill a Protest pp. Encounters of the NSA Kind pp. Singing in the Tear Gas pp. Arrested Development pp. An Offensive Christmas pp. Eye to Eye with the Enemy pp. Left out are black radical critiques of systemic racism. The marginalization of black radicalism has made honest conversations about race difficult to initiate — and erases a key piece of American history.
Racism is a system of power that oppresses people of African descent and other non-European peoples within the United States and around the world. Systemic racism manifests itself in the judicial system, the national and global economies, policing, the education system, religion, popular culture and a war machine that predominantly kills non-European peoples around the world.
The foundation of this system as it exists in the United States was laid down by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in which black African people were stolen from Africa by European colonizers to work as slaves. Slaves worked in mines, rice fields or construction or on plantations. Their labor would be used to produce commodities that were later sold in international markets for profit, which helped create modern global capitalism.
Slavery was protected by robust political and legal systems that designated slaves as property to be bought and sold , rather than human beings. The system curtailed the rights of all African-Americans, including those who were not enslaved.
Slaves were brutally treated with torture, lynchings, whippings, rape and other forms of cruelty inflicted upon them. This created a system of racial hierarchy that put whites on top and blacks — free and slave — on bottom. Slavery transferred wealth from black labor to white property owners because African slaves were not paid for their work.
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For centuries, slavery allowed whites — including those who did not own slaves — to amass wealth for their communities, while blacks were politically and economically oppressed. Redlining the practice of denying or making it difficult for residents in poor, non-white communities to receive financial services like getting a mortgage or insurance or borrowing money , gentrification, discriminatory lending practices, no access to credit, low incomes and the recent recession have all prevented — and continue to prevent — African-Americans from accumulating wealth in their communities.
Moreover, slavery had dismal repercussions for the African continent. A Harvard study by Dr. After slavery ended in the s, racism still persisted through the establishment of Jim Crow laws, a system that legalized racial segregation in the United States. This lasted for about a century.
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Jim Crow has been replaced by a mass incarceration system that disproportionately imprisons black people for nonviolent drug offenses, even though blacks and whites use drugs at roughly the same rates. Oppressive policing reflects similar entrenched racism: Every 28 hours, a black person is extrajudicially killed by a police officer, security guard or self-appointed vigilantes such as Zimmerman. As a political tradition, black radicalism would look at these phenomena and diagnose them as consequences of a racist power structure that oppresses black people.
Reforming, improving or integrating into the racist power system is not enough for a black radical because the system is irredeemably rotten at its core.
That is why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Black radicalism is more of a collective political tradition than a coherent ideology. It encompasses ideologies such as Pan-Africanism, black nationalism, Black Marxism and black internationalism with varying beliefs and goals among them. What unites the black radical tradition is the challenging of systemic racism, the liberation of African peoples, and the goal of achieving fundamental change.
The roots of black radicalism trace back to African resistance against European enslavement. Professor Cedric Robinson, in his book Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition , writes about not just the well-known slave-led Haitian revolution but also slave rebellions in Brazil, the United States and other colonies. Some slaves ran away and formed maroon communities.
Black Radical Traditions in the US South – Project South: We All Count, We Will Not be Erased
Harriet Tubman, the famous African-American abolitionist who escaped slavery, helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom. Even on the plantations, slaves resisted in subtler ways, such as refusing to do work, pretending to be sick, working slow, stealing from their masters or damaging property. While slavery and colonialism worked to rob slaves of their African culture, they still retained parts of it. Slaves told folktales and fables that reflected various African oral traditions, incorporating symbols and themes rooted in African cultures.
Enslaved women made quilts, rugs and baskets with African patterns. In addition, slaves fashioned gourds into musical instruments, such as drums and banjos, similar to those used in parts of Africa. Drumming was also as a secret method of communication for slaves, just as African drumming was used for religious and ceremonial functions, thus becoming a tool of resistance. Retaining bits of their African culture provided a strong sense of collective self that formed the basis of black resistance against their oppression.
Within black radicalism is the tradition of black internationalism. A slave rebellion in one colony inspired slaves elsewhere to follow suit. The successful slave-led Haitian revolution inspired African slaves in the United States. Black internationalism views African-Americans and other members of the African diaspora as a transnational people. Even continental Africans have tribal and ethnic differences, which outside powers have exploited and which have contributed to horrific conflicts.
But they do share obvious racial features, such as dark skin and kinky hair, cultural similarities, particularly in music, African ancestral heritage and shared collective oppression under European slavery, colonialism and racism. People of African descent are acknowledged in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action as a specific victim group who continue to suffer racial discrimination as the historic legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. Even Afro-descendants who are not directly descended from slaves face the racism and racial discrimination that still persist today, generations after the slave trade ended.
Thus, African peoples throughout the diaspora, despite their differences, share not just ancestral heritage and culture but political fates. It is this internationalist impulse that forms the basis of black political ideologies like Pan-Africanism, black opposition to imperialism and black support for Third World struggles.
The end of slavery in the United States was one important victory for African-Americans and abolitionists. One challenge was addressing economic oppression experienced by African-Americans after slavery. Civil rights groups not only challenged legalized racial segregation but also incorporated economic justice in their agendas, as professor Risa L. Workers paid landowners with money made from the crop or a share of it.
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