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Turning the Pages of History: The Nationalist Community in the USA

November 14, 2017 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Four

“Perhaps, the most noteworthy initiative in the area of separation within the United States was that of the Republic of New Africa. This organization was established in Detroit in 1968 by African American Nationalists – many of whom were supporters of Malcolm X. The delegates at the Detroit Convention signed a Declaration of Independence. The organization went on to establish a provisional government, and petition the United States government for land and reparations.

“The five heavily African populated states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina were chosen for the establishment of this African American nation with the understanding that the United States government would not grant the land request until the power to take it was demonstrated. In the meantime, the Republic of New Africa would seek to gain control of the area by economic means (buying land), political means (engaging in the political process of the United States government), and by military means gaining control over the Sheriff’s offices which they considered the state apparatus used to maintain control over the land.

“The Republic of New Africa was only one of many expressions of and quest for political power to permeate the African American community in the decade of the sixties. World War II had brought about great population shifts in the Black community as the United States once again called for abundant labor power to keep its machinery going. This caused a great movement of rural African Americans to the large urban centers of the North.

“Once the war was over, the migration continued, and repression once again was rampant like it was after the first World War. Ex-servicemen, returning from a war which was characterized as a war against racism, had to return home to face the racism against which America has never been willing to fight. This repression led to the Civil Rights Movement which saw masses of African Americans standing up as a group to oppose the enemy.

“The struggle saw Rosa Parks defy the laws of segregation in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 and received the full backing of the African American community. It saw the birth of the Student Non-Violent Coordination Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), with the latter founded by Civil Rights Leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“As African Americans increasingly sought to exercise the right to vote, numerous voter registration drives were mounted especially in the so-called deep South. After many bloody marches, sit-ins, demonstrations, and loss of lives, the Voting Rights Act, barring voting discrimination, was finally passed in the summer of 1965. In 1963, the very legitimacy of the government in Mississippi was challenged with an unofficial election, the Freedom Ballot which saw a turnout of four times the number registered as official voters. This led to the formation of the Freedom Democratic Party which, in the 1964 Democratic Party Convention, challenged the all-white official state representation for their seats. The compromise, which was ultimately reached, led to a walk-out by the Freedom Democratic Party delegation.

“The militancy that was produced by the Civil Rights struggle had diminished the hegemony of the establishment integrationist African American leaders and gave rise to a significantly more nationalistic leadership in the African American community. Black power was now in vogue. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell used the slogan to enunciate his political break from the Johnson administration in 1966, but it was Stokely Carmichael, now Kwame Toure, who popularized it.

“In the book, ‘Black Power,’ by Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton, the concept is described as ‘a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to begin to define their goals, to lead their own organizations and to support those organizations. It is a call to reject the racist institutions and values of this society.’ The concept, of course, was discredited by the establishment – African American leaders who were to eventually re-assert their influence over the masses, but not before Black Power had had a chance to change the direction of the community. Black Power brought to every strata of the African American community a new awareness of self as was revealed by its impact on education, art, music, literature, sports, personal clothing, hair styles, greetings, students, intellectuals, and the working class.”

… to be continued.