Cornel West-Micheal Moore May 18th Hunter College 68th Street and Lexington Avenue
Tickets here brechtforum.org
Cornel West-Micheal Moore May 18th Hunter College 68th Street and Lexington Avenue
Tickets here brechtforum.org
Ladies First 2012: Our Expansion in Consciousness - A Celebration of Black Female Expression & Ceremony into Freedom Spiritual Dance
Co-Curated/Organized by Casey Johanna, Alexandria Lust
Lehna Huie, Kazembe Balagun and Sophia Dawson
The “Ladies First 2012” art exhibition at the Brecht Forum explores the ideas of the past and present: recognizing the iconic imagery of the Black femininity, while realizing the possibilities through ideas of Afrofuturism. During these trying times socially and economically, we hold the conversation of agency and colonialism when discussing our most recent attempts to “occupy” back our self respect and dignity.
The second annual “Ladies First” art exhibition is a continued celebration of Black female expression, bridging together to collective works of video art, performance, visual arts, workshops, panels, and film screenings. This is a time to acknowledge the Black women’s historical struggles and triumphs, while engaging a critical lens on our withstanding stereotypical visions of womanhood in our society.
Artists and Performances TBA
Baynard Rustin arrested during World War II for refusing to be down with the war machine
Red Tails is a new film (directed by George Lucas) that tells the story of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen and their role in defeating the Axis powers during World War II. The film has gotten rave reviews and support from the Black community and for good reason. It is not often that the story of Black heroes are projected on the big screen. For a people whose image are often maligned by Hollywood, seeing ourselves as strong, active, leaders is important and a good thing.
And it’s even more important to break through the Hollywood mythologies around World War II, specifically around race. Indeed, not enough films detail the Jim Crow racism in the Armed Forces, the internment of thousands of Asian Americans or the vast amount of patriarchy that was promoted during the period after the war.
Under the silver screen (and under the red tails) is a subterranean history of misfits who weren’t down with the program. Here is a sampling of their stories-
Alternative Armies Ethopia and Spanish Campaigns: Long before Pearl Harbor was attacked, African Americans were moblizing against Fascism. In 1935, the Ethiopian World Federation and Pan African Reconstruction Association (P.A.R.A) were formed to defend the only independent African nation against invasion by Mussolini’s Italy.OVer 15,000 African Americans in Boston, Detroit, New York and Philadelphia take a pledge to fight in an international army to defend Ethopia’s sovereignty. That army never panned out, still it’s influence was seen in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade that attracted dozens of Black communists, who later led integrated troops into battle to defend the Spanish Republic from Franco.
1)The Port of Chicago Mutiny- African American servicemen were relegated to the most back breaking positions and the Port of Chicago in California was no exception. Driven by mandatory speed up, Jim Crow social conditions, Black servicemen were largely responsible for loading munitions onto ships destined for the Pacific theater. Despite being told by Navy brass that the munitions were not live, an explosion ripped through the port killing 320 solider, of whom 202 were African American.
On August 8, a general strike was implemented and African American servicemen refused to unload munitions until safety and Jim Crow issues were dealt with. Subsequently 50 African American Navy-men (dubbed the Port of Chicago 50) were court martialed. Despite public pressure, the conviction stands to this day against the Port of Chicago 50, with only one navy man receiving a pardon from President Clinton.
2) Bayard Rustin- Baynard Rustin was the main force behind the 1963 March on Washington (where Dr. Martin Luther King made his “I Have A Dream Speech”.) 20 years before, he was sent to federal prison for refusing the draft. Ironically, this gay man joined Elijah Muhammed as one a handful of African Americans who refused service during World War II as a conscientious objector.
3)The 1941 March on Washington: World War II brought the United States out of the thoes of the Great Depression as thousands of jobs were created in manufacturing to support the war effort. These jobs were largely segregated. African American socialist A. Philip Randolph began to organize the original march on Washington, demanding an end to Jim Crow in wartime production. Under pressure from Randolph (And some say Eleanor Roosevelt) then President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 ending Jim Crow in the war industries, thereby opening thousands of jobs. This bolster the second Great Migration of millions of Black people entered Northern cities to look for work.
Do the Reading!
Contrary to popular belief, occupations are not a new thing. In fact, Black and Brown communites have been in the foreground of taking shit over since the civil war. Here are the highlights.
Fort Monroe- Fort Monroe was a Union garrison located in Virgina. Led by General Butler, Fort Monroe was a site of a major occupation when three Africans Frank Baker, James Townsend and Sheppard Mallory ran from their plantation to Fort Monroe to escape slavery. General Butler declared the three contraband and shielded them from their master who came to “retrieve his property.” Word spread about the men’s brave escape and within a week over 100 families came to Fort Monroe. There they established “contraband camps.”
I Hotel- The International Hotel was one of the last remnants of San Francisco’s Filipino community. As a hub for working class immigrant families, it was targeted for demolition to expand San Francisco’s business district. Activists from “The Red Guards” ( a Asian group inspired by the Young Lords) and the Asian Community Center fought developers and helped rehab the aging hotel. In 1977 activists barricaded t themselves inside, but after two months of struggle, the city of San Francisco gained the upper hand and evicted the tenants from the I Hotel.
Lincoln Hospital-Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx was known as the “butcher shop.” Hundreds of people died there and staff was largely burnout from an uncaring administration. In 1970, members of the Young Lords, Black Panthers and Health Revolution Union Movement took over the public hospital. Based on a 10 point health program, the organizers set up a TB clinic and later established the first acupuncture treatment center for heroin addiction (organized and led by Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member, Dr. Mutulu Shakur.)
City College- Known as “White Rhodesia” the City College of the City University of New York with close to 95% white despite being located in Harlem. Black and Puerto Rican students led a two week long occupation and strike at the school.The result was the establishment of Black Studies and open admission, a program guaranteeing a free college education to any high school graduate in New York City.
Alcatraz- Native American activists occupied the famed prison, once home to Al Capone and abandoned by the federal government. The occupiers demanded the land to establish Native American institutions. During the 19 month occupation, sympathizers sent food and supplies by boat while activists slept in cells. At one point, the leadership offered to sell back Alcatraz to the government for $24, a tongue in cheek reference to Manhattan Island.
Weinstein Hall, NYU- Little know (or recognized) in the Stonewall Rebellion that launched gay liberation, was the role of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Riveria. These two transgender activists were on the leading edge of the rebellion, battling the police, and coining the term “Whose Streets, Our Streets!”.
Johnson and Rivera later lead the takeover of Weinstein Hall at New York University after the campus cancelled gay dancing there. Rivera said “"All we fought for at Weinstein Hall was lost when we left upon the request of the pigs…. You people run if you want to, but we’re tired of running. We intend to fight for our rights until we get them.”
Statue of Liberty- Watch the crown! Puerto Rican activists took over lady liberty, unfurled the national flag and demanded freedom for political prisoners. The action, 1 year after United States bicentennial, renewed focus on the colonial status of Puerto Rico. One year later, Jimmy Carter released five of the main Puerto Rican political prisoners.
Birmingham Bus-Occupation usually means a crowd but on Dec.1 1955, one was all that was needed to set off the civil rights/ Black Power movement. Rosa Parks a tireless organizer refused to give up her seat on a rush hour bus. The action lead to the Birmingham bus boycott and the rest is people’s history…
In 1961, pioneering African American historian, activist and sociologist William Edward Burhardt apllied for membership in the Communist Party.As the letter below reveals the move represented a lifelong curiousity with socialism. More so, Dubois had grown more radical especially during the McCarthy era when he was arrested for anti-nuclear war activities.
After becoming a member of the Communist Party USA, Dubois left the US for Ghana and worked on the Encloypedia Africana until his death in 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington.
In a memorial meeting celebrating Dubois 100th anniversary Martin Luther King said
We cannot talk of Dr. Du Bois without recognizing that he was a radical all of his life. Some people would like to ignore the fact that he was a Communist in his later years. It is worth noting that Abraham Lincoln warmly welcomed the support of Karl Marxduring the Civil War and corresponded with him freely. In contemporary life, the English speaking world has no difficulty with the fact that Sean O’Casey was a literary giant of the twentieth century and a Communist, or that Pablo Neruda is generally considered the greatest living poet though he also served in the Chilean Senate as a Communist. It is time to cease muting the fact that Dr. Du Bois was a genius and chose to be a Communist. Our irrational obsessive anti-communism has led us into too many quagmires to be retained as if it were a mode of scientific thinking. …Dr. Du Bois’ greatest virtue was his committed empathy with all the oppressed and his divine dissatisfaction with all forms of injustice.
Communist Party of the USA
New York, New York
On this first day of October 1961, I am applying for admission to membership in the Communist Party of the United States. I have been long and slow in coming to this conclusion, but at last my mind is settled.
In college I heard the name of Karl Marx, but read none of his works, nor heard them explained. At the University of Berlin, I heard much of those thinkers who had definitely answered the theories of Marx, but again we did not study what Marx himself had said. Nevertheless, I attended meetings of the Socialist Party and considered myself a Socialist.
On my return to America, I taught and studies for sixteen years. I explored the theory of socialism and studied the organized social life of American Negroes; but still I neither read nor heard much of Marxism. Then I came to New York as an official of the new NAACP and editor of The Crisis magazine. The NAACP was capitalist-oriented and expected support from rich philanthropists.
But it had a strong socialist element in its leadership in persons like Mary Ovington, William English Walling and Charles Edward Russell. Following their advice, I joined the Socialist Party in 1911. I knew nothing of practical socialist politics and in the campaign on 1912 I found myself unwilling to vote for the Socialist ticket, but advised Negroes to vote for Wilson. This was contrary to Socialist Party rules and consequently I resigned from the Socialist Party.
For the next twenty years I tried to develop a political way of life for myself and my people. I attacked the Democrats and Republicans for monopoly and disenfranchisement of Negroes; I attacked the Socialists for trying to segregate Southern Negro members; I praised the racial attitudes of the Communists, but opposed their tactics in the case of the Scottsboro Boys and their advocacy of a Negro state. At the same time, I began the stud Karl Marx and the Communists; I read Das Kapital and other Communist literature; I hailed the Russian Revolution of 1917, but was puzzled by the contradictory news from Russia.
Finally in 1926, I began a new effort; I visited the Communist lands. I went to the Soviet Union in 1926, 1936, 1949 and 1959; I saw the nation develop. I visited East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland. I spent ten weeks in China, traveling all over the land. Then this summer, I rested a month in Rumania.
I was early convinced that socialism was an excellent way of life, but I thought it might be reached by various methods. For Russia, I was convinced she had chosen the only way open to her at the time. I saw Scandinavia choosing a different method, halfway between socialism and capitalism. In he United States, I saw Consumers Cooperation as a path from capitalism to socialism, while in England, France and Germany developed in the same direction in their own way. After the Depression and the Second World War, I was disillusioned. The progressive movement in the United States failed. The Cold War started. Capitalism called communism a crime.
Today I have reached my conclusion:
Capitalism cannot reform itself; it is doomed to self-destruction. No universal selfishness can bring social good to all.
Communismthe effort to give all men what they need and to ask of each the best they can contributethis is the only way of human life. It is a difficult and hard end to reachit has and will make mistakes, but today it marches triumphantly on in education and science, in home and food, with increased freedom of thought and deliverance from dogma. In the end communism will triumph. I want to help bring that day.
The path of the American Communist Party is clear: It will provide the United States with a real third party and thus restore democracy to this land. It will call for:
Public ownership of natural resources and of all capital.
Public control of transportation and communications.
Abolition of poverty and limitation of personal income.
No exploitation of labor.
Social medicine, with hospitalization and care for the old.
Free education for all.
Training for jobs and jobs for all.
Discipline for growth and reform.
Freedom under law.
No dogmatic religion.
These aims are not crimes. They are practiced increasingly over the world. No nation can call itself free which does not allow its citizens to work for these ends.
“The Roots of a Tree”- Malcolm X
This is a mash-up I made of a powerful excerpt from Brother Malcolm’s “The Roots of a Tree” speech and the greatest Hip Hop crew ever known to man…the Legendary Wu-Tang Clan.
Shabazz Palace- “Bronny on a Breakaway” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJdiUNDoYZw&feature=player_embedded Bones Track, Daytrotter Session
Johnny Hodges, Oliver Nelson & Leon Thomas- Echoes of Harlem, 3 Shades of Blue (Flying Dutchman Records, 1970)
Elvin Jones(featuring Dollar Brand), Midnight Walk, Midnight Walk (Atlantic Records 1967)
Blowdyn Pig, Modern Alchemist, Beat Club, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCNScUU3qJk
Amy Winehouse “Tears Dry on Their Own”, Back to Black (Island Records) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojdbDYahiCQ