Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quick Note on the Civil Rights Movement

by Joaquin Cienfuegos

"In A Real ain't holding hands and singing...because you're too busy swinging"
- Malcolm X

I feel it's necessary to dispel some of the myths out there today about the Civil Rights Movement, I am not an expert on this topic but want to challenge some basic historical revisionism. One: the Civil Rights Movement won. Two: the Civil Rights Movement won victories just through: non-violent civil disobedience, boycotts and marches.

The Civil Rights Movement was a popular movement that included different organizations, different tactics and strategies, and people from all walks of life and sectors of society. It was a threat to the social order, so much that it assassinated some of the most dynamic organizers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King when he started taking an anti-capitalist position.

It was a powerful popular movement. It was made up of different organizations and individuals who had different approaches to organizing, not just those who were promoted by the mainstream media. Organizations and individuals who were less popular for their positions on self-defense of the community were Malcolm X, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Deacons for Defense and Justice, Robert F. Williams, and later the Black Panther Party, Young Lords Party, the American Indian Movement, and others.

The power structure feared a revolution so it had to grant concessions to the movement, mainly because in 1968, most of the cities in the Empire were in flames. Not to say the marches, boycotts, and other actions weren't repressed, or successful; they were also part of the movement. In this movement, there were differences in approach, there were many who said that they would not turn the other cheek anymore, they would fight back. Overall, the concessions given to the movement were for the purpose of quieting the resistance, it worked for a while, then as we saw recently the system is even taking those away today.

Today there is similar racism, in a "post-race era." The Empire might have a Black president in office, but white supremacy is stronger than ever, and fascism continues to grow here. The police state is in tact. My position is that we need a diversity of tactics. I support anybody who resists, as long as they respect whichever way I choose to fight to defend myself, my family, my community, and my people. Lets struggle with a clear vision and a basic understanding of history's victories and failures.

Lets keep fighting until we win!

For further reading check out:

Negroes with Guns by Robert F. Williams
Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power by Timothy B. Tyson
Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision by Barbara Ransby
Malcolm X Speaks and the Autobiography of Malcolm X
To Die for the People by Huey P. Newton
Ready for the Revolution: The Life Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)

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