Statement from Dr. Mutulu Shakur on Malcolm X Festival

Mutulu ShakurMay19th is an important Date in the New Afrikan, Pan-African, Black history of struggle that we must never let slip into oblivion. It is the birthday of OMOWALE MALCOLMX, EL HAIJ MALIK SHABAZZ – Our teacher who taught us to embrace Global Pan-Africanism while at the same time as we evolved into proud New Afrikans.

For the past 20 years, New Afrikan people have honored Malcolm X in Atlanta. By holding this festival, we continue an important tradition – educating future generations about his principles and values.

It is a process that must be maintained in light of the elated feeling among our people with the election of Barack Hussein Obama as president of the United States. In this euphoric state of mind we must never forget our Black prince, Malcolm X, who educated us in the science of political power – nationally and internationally, and for that, weare what we’ve become today.

That said, we must focus this new generation of leadership to understand that for power there are sacrifices. So the question for this new leadership is the addressing of the present reality ofour people. The task to be determined – is there an illusion of real political power? If so, we must transform this illusion into real sustenance that addresses local, national, and international issues.

The awakening and redefining of Pan-Africanism must guide our critical thinking, planning and organizing for the future, not only within these borders but to the continent of Africa and African People wherever we exist.

In this era, this generation will be called upon, like previous generations, to make a difference by pushing for political power with Pan-Africanism as an objective. Just as the Cuban, Irish and Jewish electorate has pushed their people’s agenda for years.

Long ago Brother Malcolm told us the struggle was a question of land and as we’ve matured politically we now recognize that conflict all over the world is the struggle to control land – in pursuit of spiritual, philosophical and economic power. The current conflicts in Gaza, Sri Lanka, India, Sudan, and Pakistan are by definition for control of the land and the resources on it.

As New Afrikans, we should not only personalize the question of land as it relates to small plots, as important as they may be – victory gardens, retreats, camp grounds and all. The land of our people, on the continent of Africa, and the development of its natural resources, and the development of its people, bringing them dignity equal to this nation, must be an objective. As Malcolm taught us, New Afrikan people within the U.S. Empire should work to control the politics and economy ofterritory that we live and particularly where we are in the majority. We must strive for self-determination, self-respect and self-defense.

In the words of Kwame’ Nkrumah (the first post-colonial president of Ghana), many on both sides of the Atlantic assumed power “with no sense of obligation” to our Ancestors and people. He guided the people’s political victory towards the development and the building of the united states of Africa – unifying the economic, political and military resources. Several leaders on the African continent betrayed Nkrumah’s vision and objectives.

On this side of the Atlantic, our (so-called) leaders and elected representatives have supported policy and programs that accelerated the underdevelopment of our people, the loss of land and the diversion of natural resources, wealth and employment from our people. These “negro leaders” have abandoned the vision ofMalcolm that We control our communities and ultimately have self-determination for the New Afrikan nation. They have historically supported a white capitalist agenda. We have been bamboozled allowing the media to disconnect us from the very representatives who held true to our people and human rights worldwide, like Cynthia McKinney and MaxineWaters.

When the New Afrikan community disrespects the information that exposes our oppression we are complicit with our oppressors. We must create a process in place to hold Black elected officials who depend on our vote as political capital to support a human right, self-determination and Pan-African agenda. If not, we have only ourselves to blame. An example of the direction we must go is the campaign and victory of Chokwe Lumumba in Jackson, Mississippi. The Lumumba campaign came from a People’s Assembly in Jackson that created a Peoples platform as the basis of his campaign. The Assembly will be maintained after the election to give thepeople a voice and to hold the candidate and office accountable. The victory of Chokwe Lumumba on Malcolm’s Birthday (May 19th) is the continuation of Malcolm’s vision.

Our crucial error is that we as Black people have failed to critically analyze and redefine our collective objective and to transmit it to the consciousness ofthe masses, as was done during the apartheid (Jim Crow) era. This would be understandable if other subgroups abandoned their Pan-Nationality objectives. But these groups, Cuban Americans, Irish Americans, and Jewish Americans have all used their political capital to influence events and the conditions of their respective homelands. They use the political process to further their predetermined pan-nationalist objectives.

This generation of New Afrikans must define and project a 2010 Pan-African agenda that can exercise real power. We must develop slogans recognizable to all Africans, which advance our principles and values: self-reliance, self-determination, economic development, and now military intervention. These concepts are the bases of Malcolm’s doctrine.

In president Obama’s 100 day press conference, he revealed in his response, to aquestion posed by a BET reporter, regarding the disproportionate job lost byAfrican-Americans, his “one for all” position. In a not so subtle response, he made it clear – do not expect any special attention from me. Obama said he’d push policies to “mitigate the pain for all the jobless”and that it’s up to them to use it.

Wemust also recognize that Obama has significant influence but limited power over the Senate and House of Representatives. So how do we exercise our political Capital to impact Black politicians from a Pan-Afrikan perspective? As with Clarence Thomas, we see that “being from us” does not translate into“being for us” – using their power or influence with our best interest at heart. The 800 pound gorilla in the room is – can Pan-Africanism and American patriotism share the same platform? Can a balance be struck? If so, when and how?

Lastly, Brother Malcolm would be livid with our organization and failure to formulate a process that would demand the freedom of our political prisoners. This single failure illustrates the lack of strategic Pan-African focus. The importance of people, no matter who they are, who are willing to invest/give their lives, is the foundation for which the progress of a people is realized.

A prime example – Barack Obama by his own admission found his political voice while organizing students to fight for the freedom of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid in South Africa. Now I ask – did not many become Pan-Africanists fighting for the freedom of Nelson Mandela as the focus point. Now tell me, did we not fight a struggle similar to apartheid for the freedoms we have today? For over 400 years?

Our political prisoners languish in prisons for decades because our so-called leadership fails to pass policies that would give our struggle “apartheid like”recognition. And they are afraid to use any of their political capital or clout for their own historical resistance struggle.

The newly installed Black elected officials who won their seats because of the mobilizing and involvement of the hip-hop and x-generation voters must understand that along with domestic issues, they must also champion the causeof our political prisoners and a Pan-African objective. If not, who will forward this agenda? We represent their power base and they are accountable to us. This point should be obvious but it is not.

At The Tavis Smiley yearly forum of the “state of the Black Union” and the Urban League’s “yearly report” events, major New Afrikan political and elected leadership are in attendance. Following hours of analysis, not one mention of a program to address the freedom of any of our political prisoners, prisoners of war, or prisoners-in-exile was in any of the presentations.

I applaud the Congressional Black Caucus’ recent trip to Cuba in an effort to normalize relations and discuss the Cuban exiled political prisoners. Publicly nothing has been mentioned regarding our political prisoners of the cointelpro war on the Black Liberation Army.

By contrast, an ally of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), congresswomen Herman of California, was overheard on wire tapes by the F.B.I. intervening to get indictments dropped against two AIPAC operatives for spying against the United States for Israel. With AIPAC promising to get her a chairmanship on the intelligence committee, the indictments were subsequently dropped.

It’s a damn shame that our own political prisoners who have dedicated their lives and sacrificed everything for the betterment of New Afrikan and African people end up in prisons for over 40 years. It represents a complete failure of our movement to redefine Pan-African thinking.

It is so important to continue to honor El Hajj Malik Shabazz, Brother Omowale Malcolm X. He reminds us all of who we should aspire to be. This new generation that is rightfully proud of the election of Barack Obama must balance the conflicting contradiction that exist between this perceived new reality and how it impacts the lives of the sisters and brothers of the Diaspora – and the responsibility to make the change that is more than just an image.

It is imperative that they act because one quarter of the world’s population and about 200 New Afrikan Political Prisoners are depending on them.

Aim high and go all out….

Long live the teachings of Brother Malcolm X ……

Stiff resistance……

Dr. Mutulu shakur

5/2009)