Thursday, 23 August 2007

ROBERT & MABEL WILLIAMS INTERVIEW

Continuing with the special series on Robert F Williams, Sons of Malcolm this interview series in which Robert and Mabel Williams (pictured) recount the history of their struggle. Included in this interview series is a section about the relationship between Malcolm X / Malik El-Hajj Shabazz and the Williams' struggle. Malcolm X was a supporter of the struggle being led by the Williams, support which included raising funds for the NAACP chapter/branch, of which Robert Williams was the leader.Thanks to the Freedom Archives website which is a invaluable resource for those interested in the history fo radical struggle in the USA and around the world.

And thanks to Brother Billy X for publicising this series through the Black Panther Party Alumni website. This website is an excellent website about the tireless work done by former Panthers to keep their legacy alive and to develop further resources to enable people to have a greater understanding into the Panthers.

Robert F. Williams Audio

Credit for use: Freedom Archives

01 Introduction
02 The Williams' Beginnings
03 The American Tradition of Freedom Through Guns
04 Organizing the Naacp Against Segregation in Monroe [1955-1961]
05 Armed Self-Defense as a Right
06 The Rifle Club and the 10-Point Program [1957]
07 The Crusader Newsletter [1959 On]
08 Racism, Blackness, And the 'Kissing' Case [1958-59]
09 The Relationship With Malcolm X [1959-60]
10 The Cuban Revolution [1959 On]
11 The Swimming Pool Desegregation Campaign [1957-1961]
12 The KKK Mobilizes and Attacks Monroe
13 Klan Attempts to Kill Robert
14 The Freedom Riders Come to Monroe

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Dilip Hiro: USA hegemony being challenged

Rising powers have the US in their sights

ASIA TIMES

By Dilip Hiro

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States stood tall - militarily invincible, economically unrivaled, diplomatically uncontestable. and the dominating force on information channels worldwide. The next century was to be the true "American century", with the rest of the world molding itself in the image of the sole superpower.

Yet with not even a decade of this century behind us, we are already witnessing the rise of a multipolar world in which new powers are challenging different aspects of US supremacy - Russia and China in the forefront, with regional powers Venezuela and Iran forming the second rank. These emergent powers are primed to erode US hegemony, not confront it, singly or jointly.

How and why has the world evolved in this way so soon? The George W Bush administration's debacle in Iraq is certainly a major factor in this transformation, a classic example of an imperialist power, brimming with hubris, overextending itself. To the relief of many - in the US and elsewhere - the Iraq fiasco has demonstrated the striking limitations of power for the globe's highest-tech, most destructive military machine. In Iraq, Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to two US presidents, concedes in a recent op-ed, the US is "being wrestled to a draw by opponents who are not even an organized state adversary".

The invasion and subsequent disastrous occupation of Iraq and the mismanaged military campaign in Afghanistan have crippled the credibility of the United States. The scandals at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, along with the widely publicized murders of Iraqi civilians in Haditha, have badly tarnished America's moral self-image. In the latest opinion poll in Turkey, a secular state and member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, only 9% of Turks have a "favorable view" of the US (down from 52% just five years ago).

Yet there are other explanations - unrelated to Washington's glaring misadventures - for the current transformation in international affairs. These include, above all, the tightening market in oil and natural gas, which has enhanced the power of hydrocarbon-rich nations as never before; the rapid economic expansion of the mega-nations China and India; the transformation of China into the globe's leading manufacturing base; and the end of the Anglo-American duopoly in international television news.

Many channels, diverse perceptions

During the 1991 Gulf War, only the Cable News Network and the British Broadcasting Corp had correspondents in Baghdad. So the international TV audience, irrespective of its location, saw the conflict through their lenses. Twelve years later, when the Bush administration, backed by British prime minister Tony Blair, invaded Iraq, Al-Jazeera Arabic broke this duopoly. It relayed images - and facts - that contradicted the Pentagon's presentation. For the first time in history, the world witnessed two versions of an ongoing war in real time. So credible was the Al-Jazeera Arabic version that many television companies outside the Arabic-speaking world - in Europe, Asia and Latin America - showed its clips.

Though, in theory, the growth of cable television worldwide raised the prospect of ending the Anglo-American duopoly in 24-hour television news, not much had happened because of the exorbitant cost of gathering and editing TV news. It was only the arrival of Al-Jazeera English, funded by the hydrocarbon-rich emirate of Qatar - with its declared policy of offering a global perspective from an Arab and Muslim angle - that, last year, finally broke the long-established mold.

Soon France 24 came on the air, broadcasting in English and French from a French viewpoint, followed in mid-2007 by the English-language Press TV, which aimed to provide an Iranian perspective. Russia was next in line for 24-hour TV news in English for the global audience. Meanwhile, spurred by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Telesur, a pan-Latin American TV channel based in Caracas, began competing with CNN in Spanish for a mass audience.

As with Qatar, so with Russia and Venezuela, the funding for these TV news ventures has come from soaring national hydrocarbon incomes - a factor draining US hegemony not just in imagery but in reality.

Russia, an energy superpower Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has more than recovered from the economic chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. After in effect renationalizing the energy industry through state-controlled corporations, he began deploying its economic clout to further Russia's foreign-policy interests.

In 2005, Russia overtook the United States to become the second-largest oil producer in the world. Its oil income now amounts to US$679 million a day. European countries dependent on imported Russian oil now include Hungary, Poland, Germany, and even Britain.

Russia is also the largest producer of natural gas on the planet, with three-fifths of its gas exports going to the 27-member European Union. Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland and Slovakia get 100% of their natural gas from Russia; Turkey 66%; Poland 58%; Germany 41%; and France 25%. Gazprom, the biggest natural-gas enterprise on Earth, has established stakes in 16 EU countries.

In 2006, the Kremlin's foreign reserves stood at US$315 billion, up from a paltry $12 billion in 1999. Little wonder that in July 2006, on the eve of the Group of Eight summit in St Petersburg, Putin rejected an energy charter proposed by the Western leaders.

Soaring foreign-exchange reserves, new ballistic missiles, and closer links with a prospering China - with which it conducted joint military exercises on China's Shandong Peninsula in August 2005 - enabled Putin to deal with his US counterpart, President Bush, as an equal, not mincing his words when appraising US policies.

"One country, the United States, has overstepped its national boundaries in every way," Putin told the 43rd Munich Trans-Atlantic Conference on Security Policy in February. "This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations ... This is very dangerous."

Condemning the concept of a "unipolar world", he added: "However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it describes a scenario in which there is one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making ... It is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And this is pernicious." His views fell on receptive ears in the capitals of most Asian, African and Latin American countries.

The changing relationship between Moscow and Washington was noted, among others, by analysts and policymakers in the hydrocarbon-rich Persian Gulf region. Commenting on the visit that Putin paid to longtime US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar after the Munich conference, Abdel Aziz Sagar, chairman of the Gulf Research Center, wrote in the Doha-based newspaper The Peninsula that Russia and Gulf Arab countries, once rivals from opposite ideological camps, had found a common agenda of oil, anti-terrorism, and arms sales:

The altered focus takes place in a milieu where the Gulf countries are signaling their keenness to keep all geopolitical options open, reviewing the utility of the United States as the sole security guarantor, and contemplating a collective security mechanism that involves a host of international players.

In April, the Kremlin issued a major foreign-policy document. "The myth about the unipolar world fell apart once and for all in Iraq," it stated. "A strong, more self-confident Russia has become an integral part of positive changes in the world."

The Kremlin's increasingly tense relations with Washington were in tune with Russian popular opinion. A poll taken during the run-up to the 2006 G8 summit revealed that 58% of Russians regarded the US as an "unfriendly country". It has proved to be a trend. Last month, for instance, Major-General Alexandr Vladimirov told the mass-circulation newspaper Komsolskya Pravda that war with the United States is a "possibility" in the next 10-15 years.

Chavez rides high Such sentiments resonated with Hugo Chavez. While visiting Moscow in June, he urged Russians to return to the ideas of Vladimir Lenin, especially his anti-imperialism. "The Americans don't want Russia to keep rising," he said. "But Russia has risen again as a center of power, and we, the people of the world, need Russia to become stronger."

Chavez finalized a $1 billion deal to purchase five diesel submarines to defend Venezuela's oil-rich undersea shelf and thwart any possible future economic embargo imposed by Washington. By then, Venezuela had become the second-largest buyer of Russian weaponry. (Algeria topped the list, another indication of a growing multipolarity in world affairs.) Venezuela acquired the distinction of being the first country to receive a license from Russia to manufacture the famed AK-47 assault rifle.

By channeling some of his country's oil money to needy Venezuelans, Chavez broadened his base of support. Much to the chagrin of the Bush White House, he trounced his sole political rival, Manuel Rosales, in a presidential contest last December with 61% of the vote. Equally humiliating to the Bush administration, Venezuela was by then giving more foreign aid to needy Latin American states than the US was.

After his re-election, Chavez vigorously pursued the concept of forming an anti-imperialist alliance in Latin America as well as globally. He strengthened Venezuela's ties not only with such Latin countries as Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and debt-ridden Argentina, but also with Iran and Belarus.

By the time he arrived in Tehran from Moscow (via Minsk) in June, the 180 economic and political accords his government had signed with Tehran were already yielding tangible results. Iranian-designed cars and tractors were coming off assembly lines in Venezuela. The "cooperation of independent countries like Iran and Venezuela has an effective role in defeating the policies of imperialism and saving nations", Chavez declared in Tehran.

Stuck in the quagmire of Iraq and lashed by the gusty winds of rocketing oil prices, the Bush administration finds its area of maneuver woefully limited when dealing with a rising hydrocarbon power. To the insults that Chavez keeps hurling at Bush, the US response has been vapid.

The reason is the crippling dependence of the United States on imported petroleum, which accounts for 60% of the total it consumes. Venezuela is the fourth-largest source of US imported oil after Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia; and some refineries in the US are designed specifically to refine heavy Venezuelan oil.

In Chavez' scheme to undermine the "sole superpower", China has an important role. During a visit last August to Beijing, his fourth in seven years, he announced that Venezuela would triple its oil exports to China to 500,000 barrels per day in three years, a jump that suited both sides. Chavez wants to diversify Venezuela's buyer base to reduce its reliance on exports to the US, and China's leaders are keen to diversify their hydrocarbon imports away from the Middle East, where US influence remains strong.

"The support of China is very important [to us] from the political and moral point of view," Chavez declared. Along with a joint refinery project, China agreed to build 13 oil-drilling platforms, supply 18 oil tankers, and collaborate with the state-owned company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PdVSA), in exploring a new oilfield in the Orinoco Basin.

China on a stratospheric trajectory

So dramatic has been the growth of the state-run company PetroChina that, in mid-2007, it was second only to ExxonMobil in its market value among energy corporations. Indeed, that year three Chinese companies made it on to the list of the world's 10 most highly valued corporations. Only the US had more with five. China's foreign reserves of more than $1.3 trillion have now surpassed Japan's. With its gross domestic product soaring past Germany's, China ranks No 3 in the world economy.

In the diplomatic arena, Chinese leaders broke new ground in 1996 by sponsoring the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, consisting of four adjoining countries: Russia and the three former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The SCO started as a cooperative organization with a focus on countering drug-smuggling and terrorism.

Later, the SCO invited Uzbekistan to join, even though it does not abut China. In 2003, the SCO broadened its scope by including regional economic cooperation in its charter. That, in turn, led it to grant observer status to Pakistan, India and Mongolia - all adjoining China - and Iran, which does not. When the US applied for observer status, it was rejected, an embarrassing setback for Washington, which enjoyed such status at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Early this month, on the eve of an SCO summit in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, the group conducted its first joint military exercises, code-named Peace Mission 2007, in the Russian Ural region of Chelyabinsk. "The SCO is destined to play a vital role in ensuring international security," said Ednan Karabayev, foreign minister of Kyrgyzstan.

Late last year, as the host of a China-Africa Forum in Beijing attended by leaders of 48 of 53 African nations, China left the US woefully behind in the diplomatic race for that continent (and its hydrocarbon and other resources). In return for Africa's oil, iron ore, copper and cotton, China sold low-priced goods to Africans, and assisted African counties in building or improving roads, railways, ports, hydroelectric dams, telecommunications systems and schools. "The Western approach of imposing its values and political system on other countries is not acceptable to China," said Africa specialist Wang Hongyi of the China Institute of International Studies. "We focus on mutual development."

To reduce the cost of transporting petroleum from Africa and the Middle East, China began constructing a trans-Myanmar oil pipeline from the Bay of Bengal to its southern province of Yunnan, thereby shortening the delivery distance now traveled by tankers. This undermined Washington's campaign to isolate Myanmar. (Earlier, Sudan, boycotted by Washington, had emerged as a leading supplier of African oil to China.) In addition, Chinese oil companies were competing fiercely with their Western counterparts in getting access to hydrocarbon reserves in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

"China's oil diplomacy is putting the country on a collision course with the US and Western Europe, which have imposed sanctions on some of the countries where China is doing business," commented William Mellor of Bloomberg News. The sentiment is echoed by the other side. "I see China and the US coming into conflict over energy in the years ahead," said Jin Riguang, an oil-and-gas adviser to the Chinese government and a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Council.

China's industrialization and modernization have spurred the modernization of its military as well. The test-firing of the country's first anti-satellite missile, which successfully destroyed a defunct Chinese weather satellite in January, dramatically demonstrated its growing technological prowess. An alarmed Washington had already noted an 18% increase in China's 2007 defense budget.

Attributing the rise to extra spending on missiles, electronic warfare and other high-tech items, Liao Xilong, commander of the People's Liberation Army's general logistics department, said: "The present-day world is no longer peaceful, and to protect national security, stability and territorial integrity, we must suitably increase spending on military modernization."

China's declared budget of $45 billion was a tiny fraction of the Pentagon's $459 billion one. Yet in May, a Pentagon report noted China's "rapid rise as a regional and economic power with global aspirations" and claimed that it was planning to project military further afield, from the Taiwan Strait into the Asia-Pacific region, in preparation for possible conflicts over territory or resources.

The sole superpower in the sweep of history

This disparate challenge to US global primacy stems as much from sharpening conflicts over natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas, as from ideological differences over democracy, US-style, or human rights, as conceived and promoted by Western policymakers. Perceptions about national (and imperial) identity and history are at stake as well.

It is noteworthy that Russian officials applauding the swift rise of post-Soviet Russia refer fondly to the pre-Bolshevik Revolution era when, according to them, czarist Russia was a great power. Equally, Chinese leaders remain proud of their country's long imperial past as unique among nations.

When viewed globally and in the great stretch of history, the notion of US exceptionalism that drove the neo-conservatives to proclaim the Project for the New American Century in the late 20th century - adopted so wholeheartedly by the Bush administration in this one - is nothing new. Other superpowers have been there before, and they too have witnessed the loss of their prime position to rising powers.

No superpower in modern times has maintained its supremacy for more than several generations. And however exceptional its leaders may have thought themselves, the United States, already clearly past its zenith, has no chance of becoming an exception to this age-old pattern of history.

Dilip Hiro is the author of Secrets and Lies: Operation Iraqi Freedom and, most recently, Blood of the Earth: The Battle for the World's Vanishing Oil Resources, both published by Nation Books.

(Copyright 2007 Dilip Hiro.)

Thursday, 9 August 2007

British Prisons as Islamist Universities

Blowback from Draconian Anti-Terror Laws

Counterpunch

By SUKANT CHANDAN

In the last month alone Britain has seen 16 Muslims convicted of terror related crimes. Politicians and the media have used these convictions and the attacks in London and Glasgow to heighten Islamophobia and scaremongering amongst the British public. British premier Gordon Brown and the head of the Police Officers Association have taken this opportunity to raise the prospect of internment, detention without trial most notoriously and ineffectually used by the British state against the Irish Republican Movement.

There are already one hundred Muslim terror suspects in British jails waiting trial, and internment, compounded with the probable increase in conflicts in the Middle East, will lead to hundreds more being detained in prisons. Filling Britain’s already critically overpopulated jails with Muslims will bolster the ranks of alienated and radical Islamist youth both inside and outside of the prisons. This like so many of Britain’s foolish policies, will rebound against their security and foreign policy interests.

Not a day goes by without headline news of another individual or group of Muslims being convicted of terrorist-related offences. Although there are many other secular and left-wing movements on the list of proscribed foreign terrorist organisations, the message is that Muslims are the main enemy, and the main subject of the Islamophobic racist offensive by the West. This strategy is successful in criminalising Muslims and Islam in the minds of the majority of British people, and also in humiliating and incensing Muslims and progressive minded people.

These convictions are significant for two main reasons: they set precedents for convictions, not for having been involved or in the planning of terrorist acts, but for distributing material on the internet or being in possession of terrorist-related reading material, and they create a favourable political climate for pushing through further draconian emergency legislation, with internment being the most important and controversial.

The convictions of three people who were in total given 24 years between them were the first ever in Britain against those involved in incitement to commit terrorist acts through the internet. Referring to convicted 23-year old Moroccan Younis Tsouli, Judge Openshaw said "He came no closer to a bomb or a firearm than a computer keyboard" and recommended that Tsouli should be deported back to Morocco after serving his 10-year sentence.

28-year old Yassin Nassari was given three and half years for possession of terrorist-related material given to him on an external hard dive by a friend in Syria while he was there studying Arabic.

The jury failed to convict him on the greater charge of involvement in terrorism, a charge made on the sole basis of an email from his wife while in he was in Syria. Again, as in the case of Tsouli, Nassari was not found to have been involved in any planning or act of terrorism, and if being in possession of these files were so dangerous, why has the British right-wing Telegraph website re-printed the blueprints of how to make al-Qassem rockets that were found on Nassari? In the case of Nassari it seems what is important about his conviction is not the prevention of possible terrorist attacks, as there is no evidence that he was connected to any, but setting a precedent to convict other people for being in possession of the ambiguous ‘terrorist-related’ materials.

The jury's verdict meant that anyone who downloaded such material, whatever their intentions, was at real risk of being convicted under Britain's terrorism laws, and the judge at Nassari's trial said "the sooner that is understood, the better."

When it comes to the Muslims and the conflicts in the Middle East, the official media and British state discourse remains Blairite. The softer, more ‘reasoned’ tone of Brown attempts to win back those voters the Labour Party has alienated. It seems that on an executive level, all that has changed is a slight re-arranging of the deck chairs, as a string of security swoops is taking place against non-Islamic groups in Britain which remains unreported, while terror-related convictions of Muslims are the context in which Brown is seeking ‘cross-party’ consensus on further emergency legislation. Scotland Yard, Britain’s police headquarters has supported the head of the Association of Police Officers proposal of internment with no definite time limit to replace the upper time limit of 28 days that exists at present, a period which Brown has already said he wants to extend. In all likelihood the government will succeed in getting internment through in the absence of any serious and effective opposition to it inside or outside parliament.

Recent history in the British military occupation of Northern Ireland has already shown the counter-productiveness of internment which contributed to turning British prisons in Ireland into hotbeds of radical Irish Republicanism, so much so that Britain’s most notorious maximum security prison in Northern Ireland Long Kesh or ‘The Maze’, was dubbed the ‘Republican University’ by the Republican Movement.

There are already warning signs as to what internment would mean for British security. Mukhtar Said Ibrahim, who was the ringleader of the 21/7 attempted London bombing, spent time in Feltham and Aylesbury Young Offenders Institutes, and is alleged to have been radicalized by Imams there, as it is alleged was the ‘shoe-bomber’ Richard Reid during his time at Feltham.

More recently the Islamist prisoners being held in Belmarsh, many of them awaiting trial for many months, are already creating headaches for the prison authorities. Tariq al-Daour, one of the first convicted in Britain to be imprisoned for inciting terrorism over the internet, was caught allegedly making a website which encouraged armed struggle. A prison riot ensued between prison officers and Muslim prisoners when al-Daour refused to hand over his laptop. If this is the situation with a handful of Islamist prisoners in Belmarsh, one can predict the crisis that will occur when Britain has to deal with hundreds of radical Islamist prisoners organising from and recruiting inside British jails. The Vice Chair of the Prison Officers Association Steve Gough has warned that in five years terrorist and suspected terrorist prisoners will increase by a thousand and these highly politicised and often charismatic prisoners could influence produce a new wave of radicals among other inmates.

Throughout much of the prison populations in the West, as well as outside of them, Islam holds a special attraction. Most famously, it was Malcolm X / Malik el-Hajj Shabazz that undertook the transformation from street-hustler through a path of redemption to Islam and soon became US’s greatest radical Black leader. From being known as ‘Satan’ by his fellows, he turned to Islam after befriending a fellow prisoner who was a member of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X’s auto-biography continues to be the most requested book by prisoners in the West.

In British jails Islam is the fastest growing religion amongst inmates. Wandsworth prison in London, Europe’s largest, sees more Muslims attending prayers than all the other faiths combined across London’s prison system. Gough himself states that the majority of the prison population is comprised of angry young men, disenfranchised from society, “It doesn't matter if they're English, Afro-Caribbean or whatever. These types of people are ripe for radicalisation.”

Few British people from the inner cities do not know of fellow students at college or university who turned away from a life of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity and disrespect towards the opposite sex, towards Islam as a route out towards a life of moral uprightness and knowledge. After 9/11 many of these youths were incensed by the oppression of their co-religionists in Somalia, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq. These young people who try to make sense out of the tragedies and challenges that are befalling the Ummah are further disturbed by what they see as the decadence of the West which takes place alongside war and occupation.

Those who are imprisoned for terror-related crimes and who are awaiting trial are not, unlike the Irish Republican prisoners until the late 1990s, part of a mass radical social and armed struggle in Britain. They are prisoners who are mostly isolated from the Muslim community in Britain, and as such constitute convenient targets for the British government to justify the introduction of further draconian measures.

Ironically, it may well be the introduction of these measures that will swell the ranks of radical Islamist prisoners in British jails, which will in turn in the near future increase the recruitment of radical Islamist youth both inside British prisons and in the communities. The British state security response to this might be to introduce even further measures such as isolation cells and sensory-deprivation techniques that are used in other parts of Europe.

It must be borne in mind however that these measures will not stop plenty of other Islamist prisoners amongst the prison populations, whose charisma, message of rejection of Western decadent society and hypocritical concepts of democracy and human rights will find receptive ears and recruits from some of the most alienated and disenfranchised youth in British society who maybe looking for retribution for their perceived injustices that they and their co-religionists have faced.

COUNTERPUNCH

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Negroes with Guns, Chapter THREE - Williams showdown with NAACP leadership

Sons of Malcolm continues with its special series on Robert F Williams in serialising his seminal Black Power treatise Negroes with Guns. In this the third chapter of the book, Williams outlines the struggle between his militant leadership of the civil rights struggle with that of the reformist and ‘turn the other cheek’ leadership-style of the NAACP of which Williams was the Monroe branch/chapter leader. This chapter gives a rare insight into the struggle that was taking place inside the NAACP between these two very different approaches to the Black Liberation struggle and as shown in Timothy B Tyson’s biographical work on Williams, William’s militant leadership had deep roots in the oppressed Black communities of the ‘South’.

[picture: Front covers of Mabel and Robert William's newsletter 'The Crusader'. One showing Williams making a speech as Mao tse tung looks on and the other showing the retribution on part of the Black masses against racism in torching US cities]

Chapter 3

The Struggle for Militancy in the NAACP

Until my statement hit the national newspapers the national office of the NAACP had paid little attention to us. We had received little help from them in our struggles and our hour of need. Now they lost no time. The very next morning I received a long distance telephone call from the national office wanting to know if I had been quoted correctly. I told them that I had. They said the NAACP was not an organization of violence. I explained that I knew that it was not an organization of violence. They said that I had made violent statements. I replied that I made these statements as Robert Williams, not as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. They said that because I was an official of the organization anything that I said would be considered NAACP policy, that we were too close together. I asked them why if we were so close together they hadn’t come to my rescue all this time when I had been the unemployed victim of the Klan’s economic pressure and when I had had all of my insurance canceled as a poor insurance risk. I asked them why they didn’t then consider our closeness.

Suspension, Distortion and Re-election

In the next few hours Roy Wilkins of the NAACP suspended me from office. I didn’t learn about it from the national office. I first heard of it when Southern radio stations announced and kept repeating every thirty minutes that the NACCP had suspended me for advocating violence because this was not a means for the solution of the race problem and that the NAACP? was against Negroes using violence as a means of self-defense.

Our Union County NACCP was one of the few interracial branches in the South. We had some white pacifist members, and when I was suspended they sent a telegram to the national office stating that they were white Southerners and that they were pacifists, but they protested my suspension on the ground that they understood the problems in the community and that the national office did not. This telegram was never made public by the NACCP. And not a single paper ever printed the fact that ours was an interracial branch and that even Southern white pacifists supported my position.

Nevertheless, this all developed into a national debate. We found out that there was no provision in the NACCP constitution to justify or authorize this hypocritical action by Roy Wilkins. I demanded some sort of hearing. Wilkins turned the matter over to the NAAWs paternalistic Committee on Branches, and in New York City on June 3, 1959, they conducted what turned out to be a trial where I fought the suspension. The committee ruled that I was to be suspended for six months’ time, after which I would automatically be reinstated.

I didn’t think of doing anything more about the suspension; there was a more important matter at hand. As a result of the trial I was more convinced than ever that one of our greatest and most immediate needs was better communication within the race. The real Afro-American struggle was merely a disjointed network of pockets of resistance and the shameful thing about it was that Negroes were relying upon the white man’s inaccurate reports as their sources of information about these isolated struggles. I went home and concentrated all of my efforts into developing a newsletter that would in accurate and no uncertain terms inform both Negroes and whites of Afro-American liberation struggles taking place in the United States and about the particular struggle we were constantly fighting in Monroe. The first Issue of The Crusader came off the mimeograph machine June 26, 1959.

Then at the last minute I decided to appeal the committee’s decision to the NAACP’s 50th National Convention which was meeting in New York that July. The national office found it necessary to issue a special convention pamphlet attacking me. This pamphlet tried to confuse my demand that Negroes meet violence with violence as a means of selfdefense with the advocacy of lynch law. In its own way the national office contributed to the erroneous impression played up by the racist press that 1 was agitating for race war and the indiscriminate slaughter of white people.

My suspension was upheld by the convention delegates, many of whom either felt or were pressured into seeing the vote as a question of publicly supporting or disavowing the NAACP national leadership. But on the real issue at hand, delegate sentiment forced the national leadership to support the concept of self-defense. The preamble to

the resolutions passed by that convention read we do not deny but reaffirm the right of an individual and collective self-defense against unlawful assaults.”

While I was suspended, the people in my branch voted to make my wife president to serve in my place. And at the end of the six months, instead of going back into office automatically, I held an election because I didn’t want the NAACP national office to think that they were doing me any special favor. We had the election and I was re-elected unanimously.

The national office of the NAACP was determined to keep within the good graces of a lot of the influential Northern whites who were disturbed by our militancy. They maintained an indifferent attitude to our branch. We had a charter and that was all. We were unable to secure assistance from them in any of our school integration cases and our sit-in cases.

In 1960 we started a sit-in campaign. We became the thirteenth town in North Carolina to start sit-in demonstrations. Though the NAACP wasn’t taking notice, our sit-ins proved that self-defense and non-violence could be success fully combined. There was less violence in the Monroe sit-ins than in any other sit-ins in the South. In other communities there were Negroes who had their skulls fractured, but not a single demonstrator was even spat upon during our sit-ins. We had less violence because we had shown the willingness and readiness to fight and defend ourselves. We didn’t appear on the streets of Monroe as beggars depending upon the charity and generosity of white supremacists. We appeared as people with strength, and it was to the mutual advantage of all parties concerned that peaceful relations be maintained.

While the demonstrations were taking place I was arrested and finally sentenced to serve thirty days on the chain gang. The NAACP was supposed to handle my case. They handled it up to the State Supreme Court, but then they dropped my case from appeal without telling me and with only a few days left in which to file an appeal. I discovered this through the newspapers because my case had been consolidated with that of seven students from Chapel Hill, N.C. The newspapers listed the names of the defendants whose NAACP lawyers had filed appeals and I was the only one in the group whose name did not appear. I appealed to the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. They took my case up and filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“A Letter from De Boss”

All this did not mean that the NAACP? national office was short on advice. While they did not feel responsible enough to take the appeal to higher courts, they did feel responsible enough to send me a letter upon my return from Cuba in the summer of 1960. I subsequently made two trips to Cuba.

My experiences in Monroe and with the NAACP? which had resulted in launching The Crusader were also sharpening my awareness of the struggles of Negroes in every part of the world, how they were treated, their victories and their defeats. It was clear from the first days that Afro-Cubans were part of the Cuban revolution on a basis of complete equality and my trips confirmed this fact. A Negro, for example, was head of the Cuban armed forces and no one could hide that fact from us here in America. To me this revolution was a real thing, not one of those phony South American palace revolutions. There was a real drive to bring social justice to all the Cubans, including the black ones. Beginning late in 1959 1 had begun to run factual articles about Cuba in The Crusader, pointing up the racial equality that existed there. The articles seem to have stirred up the national office for they sent me a letter which included statements such as these:

“… I wonder, however, whether you are fully aware of the dangers and disadvantages of the course of action you seem to favor. 1 have followed closely the events in Cuba in recent months and in particular, Dr. Castro’s visit to the United Nations this fall. Regardless of the merits of the Cuban cause 1 was greatly disturbed by the frequent show of insincerity which, 1 believe, should give you food for thought before you find yourself used as just another pawn in the present unfortunate feud between Cuba and our country.

“… It is a callous interference in a native American problem and should be recognized as such by anyone in a responsible position of leadership in the American Negro movement.

“. . . the present Cuban attempts to endear themselves to American Negroes are obviously caused by ulterior motives. (Let me just ask you how the American Negro tourist would feel in Cuba at the constant chant of ‘Cuba si, Yanqui no!’)

“… Are you willing to forsake the important support of that section of the people who are equally opposed to suppression of Negro rights in our country?

“… Does not the unfortunate example of the great American Negro singer Paul Robeson show you the dangers and mistakes of the road which you seem to be choosing? What has Paul Robeson with all his greatness done for the American Negro in his present struggle for equality: The answer, regrettable as it is, must be: Nothing.”

These excerpts were reprinted in The Crusader and replied to in this way:

“Only a fool or a mercenary hypocrite could muster the gall to call a nation and its great leader insincere in dealing with the captive blacks of North America when in the course of their daily lives they display the greatest measure of racial equality and social justice in the world today. It is certainly a first magnitude truism that social justice starts at home and spreads abroad. In past months I have twice been to Cuba and there is nothing insincere about my being made to feel that I was a member of the human race for the first time in my life. If this is America’s idea of insincerity, then heaven help this nation to become insincere like Fidel Castro and Free Cuba in granting persons of African descent entrance into the human race.

“As for my being ‘used as a pawn in the struggle of Cuba’ against imperialist and racist North America, I prefer to be on the side of right than on the side of Jim Crow and oppression. I prefer to be used as an instrument to convey the truth of a people who respect the rights of man, rather than to be used as an Uncle Tom whitewasher of black oppression and injustice and an apologist for America’s hypocrisy. Cuba’s aversion for America’s inhumanity to man is not an interference in a ‘native American problem.’ It is common knowledge that the master race of the ‘free world’ is out to export North American manufactured racism. Racism in the U.S.A. is as much a world problem as was Nazism. If the U.S.A. is to be the only nation exempt from the Human Rights Charter of the United Nations, then that august body is a party to the great transgressions against America’s captive people. I, for one, refuse to remain silent and cooperate with the very force that is seeking after my destruction.

“The racists in America are the most brutal people on earth. It is foolhardy for an oppressed Afro-American to take the attitude that we should keep this life-death struggle a family affair. We are the oppressed, it is only natural for us to air our grievances at home and abroad. This race fight in the U.S.A. is no more a fight to be fought just by Americans than is the fight for black liberation to be conducted by colored only. Any struggle for freedom in the world today affects the stability of the whole society of man. Why would you make our struggle an exception?

“I am not afraid of alienating white friends of our liberation movement. If they really believe in freedom they will not resent deviation from the old worn path that has led us in fruitless circles. If they are insincere they are no more than Trojan horses infiltrating our ranks to strike us a treacherous, nefarious blow on behalf of those and that which they pretend to detest. For if they resent our becoming truly liberated, they will detest us for not following their misguidance and skillfull subterfuge designed to prevent our arrival to the promised land. They speak much of tolerance, but they display unlimited intolerance toward those Afro-Americans who refuse to become their puppets and yes-man Uncle Toms.

“It is strange that 1 am asked how a ‘Negro’ American tourist would feel in Cuba hearing the constant chant of ‘Cuba Si, Yanqui NJ No one has bothered to ask how it feels to constantly face ‘White Only’ signs. These signs mean ‘White yes, Colored no!’ No one has asked me how it feels to be marched under guard with felons along a public street to jail for sitting on a ‘white only’ stool. On hearing ‘Cuba Si, Yanqui No’ and having lived all of my life under American oppression, I was emotionally moved to join the liberation chorus. I knew it didn’t apply to me because the white Christians of the ‘free world’ have excluded me from everything ‘yanqui.’

“You make a cardinal mistake when you fail to give the great Paul Robeson credit for making a great contribution to the American ‘Negro’ struggle. Paul Robeson is living proof that the Afro-American need not look upon the United States as ‘Nigger heaven’ and the last stop for us on this earth. Paul is living proof that other civilized societies honor and respect black people for the things that ‘Free America’ curses, oppresses and starves for. Paul has proven that all black men are not for sale for thirty pieces of silver. He has lit a candle that many of the new generation will follow.

“Yes, wherever there is oppression in the world today, it is the concern of the entire race. My cause is the same as the Asians against the imperialist. It is the same as the African against the white savage. It is the same as Cuba against the white supremacist imperialist. When I become a part of the mainstream of American life, based on universal justice, then and then only can I see a possible mutual cause for unity against outside interference.”

I don’t want to leave the impression that I am against the NAACP; on the contrary I think it’s an important weapon in the freedom struggle and I want to strengthen it. I don’t think they should be worrying about Cuba when there is plenty to worry about in our country. They know, as I know, the extent to which the state governments and the Federal government ignored our appeals for help and protection.

Hypocrisy and Run-around

After we closed the pool, as I’ve already described, the racists in Monroe went wild. On that same day, after we had gone home, a mob dragged a colored man from his car and took him out into the woods where they beat him, stood him up against a tree and threatened to shoot him. I had called the Associated Press and the UPI and reported that this man had been kidnapped and I also called the Justice Department.

Apparently just when this man’s attackers were getting ready to shoot him, the chief of police came out and rescued him. How did the chief of police know where to find him in the woods? Later on this Negro was unable to indict anyone who had attacked him even though he recognized some of the members of the would-be lynch mob. The FBI refused to demand any indictments for kidnapping.

The racists would come through the colored community at night and fire guns and we had an exchange of gunfire on a number of occasions. One night an armed attack was led on my house by a sergeant of the State National Guard. He was recognized, but no action was taken against him. And the chief of police denied that an attack had taken place. We kept appealing to the Federal government. It was necessary to keep a guard of about twenty volunteers going every night-men who volunteered to sleep at my house and to walk guard. This was the only way that we could ward off attacks by the racists. The telephone would ring around the clock, sometimes every fifteen minutes, with threatening calls.

Then through my newsletter, The Crusader, I started appealing to readers everywhere to protest to the U.S. government, to the U.S. Justice Department; to protest the fact that the 14th Amendment did not exist in Monroe and that the city officials, the local bureau of the FBI in Charlotte, and the Governor of the state of North Carolina were in a conspiracy to deny Monroe Negroes their Constitutional rights.

One of the readers of The Crusader wrote to Congressman Kowalski of Connecticut, who in turn wrote a letter to the Attorney General, Robert Kennedy. He said that he had been appalled to learn about the lawlessness in Monroe, and how this was damaging to our country at a time when the United States was claiming to be a champion of democracy in the world. The Congressman asked for an investigation. But despite all those letters and telegrams to the U.S. Justice Department, no investigation was made. The only investigation they made was to ask our chief of police if these things were true. The chief of police assured them that they were not.

Finally I went to the Charlotte bureau of the FBI and filed a long report calling for a Federal indictment of the chief of police for denying citizens their rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. This report was filed, but I never heard from the FBI. Later a newspaperman told me that he had heard from the Justice Department and that they claimed they could find no evidence of any violation of the 14th Amendment in Monroe. They never did bother to answer me.

Yet it was at this time that I received a letter from the United States Department of State. In this letter they denied my family and me the right to travel to Cuba, where we had been invited for the 26th of July celebration. The grounds for their refusal were: “because of the break in diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, the government of the United States cannot extend normal protective services to its citizens visiting Cuba.”

This false pretense of being interested in protecting me was a farce of the first magnitude and classic hypocrisy. Numerous threats and four attempts of murder had been made on my life in the preceding three weeks and the would-be assassins, aided and abetted by local officials, were offered immunity from law by the deliberate silence of Federal officials to whom I had continuously appealed for “normal protective services.” The Federal government couldn’t possibly have been interested in protection for me and my family, for they passed up many opportunities to protect us here at home.

This all happened a month before I was forced to leave Monroe.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Sinn Fein Youth / Ogra Shinn Fein's new website

From Sinn Fein's weekly An Phoblacht

Ógra Shinn Féin launch new National Website

The republican youth movement Ógra Shinn Féin have launched a new national website. The website is in addition to the growing number of platforms that Ógra have opened up in the past year, including their blogspot, local websites, Glor na nÓg and Spark.

As well as keeping activists and supporters updated of daily republican youth news and views, the website will be used to recruit new members, and inform people of upcoming events.

National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Barry McColgan said, "Rollo May once wrote, 'Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.' and through the new website and the increased communication it will bring, we wish to create a tighter sense of community between Ógra activists and supporters.

"Ógra Shinn Féin has opened up this new website due to the increased use of the blogspot which now has hundreds of visitors everyday viewing the daily updated news, opinion pieces and events notices.

"The internet is the future of communication and we wish to use the website to ensure improved cohesion in Ógra Shinn Féin, and to promote the uncensored voice of republican youth."

You can view the website at http://www.osf.ie/

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

NEGROES WITH GUNS, ChaptherTWO

'Sons of Malcolm' special Robert F Williams series presents the seminal Black Power treatise, 'Negroes with Guns' by Robert F Williams, taken from the 1998 reprint:

[left: cartoon from William's magazine 'The Crusader', illustrating the concept expressed also by Malcolm X / Malik El-Hajj Shabazz that Black people in the US should see themselves, not as a minority but as the majority of anti-imperialist masses across the world struggling for their rights ]

Chapter 2

An NAACP Chapter Is Reborn in Militancy

My home town is Monroe, North Carolina. It has a population of 11,000, about a quarter of which is Negro. It is a county seat (Union County) and is 14 miles from the South Carolina border. Its spirit is closer to that of South Carolina than to the liberal atmosphere of Chapel Hill which people tend to associate with North Carolina. There are no trade unions in our county and the southeastern regional headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan is in Monroe.

There was also, at the time of my return from the Marines, a small and dwindling chapter of the NAACI‘. The Union County NAACP was a typical Southern branch-small, not very active, dominated by and largely composed of the upper crust of the black community-professionals, businessmen and white-collar workers.

Before the Supreme Court desegregation decision of 1954, the NAACP was not a primary target of segregationists. In many places in the South, including Monroe, racists were not too concerned with the small local chapters. But the Supreme Court Decision drastically altered this casual attitude. The Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Councils made it their business to locate any NAACP chapter in their vicinity and to find out who its officers and members were. Threats of violence and economic sanctions were applied to make people withdraw their membership. Chapters, already small, dwindled rapidly.

A Veteran Returns Home

When I got out of the Marine Corps, I knew I wanted to go home and join the NAACP In the Marines I had got a taste of discrimination and had some run-ins that got me into the guardhouse. When I joined the local chapter of the NAACP it was going down in membership, and when it was down to six, the leadership proposed dissolving it. When I objected, I was elected president and they withdrew, except for Dr. Albert E. Perry. Dr. Perry was a newcomer who had settled in Monroe and built up a very successful practice. He became our vice-president. I tried to get former members back without success and finally I realized that I would have to work without the social leaders of the community.

At this time I was inexperienced. Before going into the Marines I had left Monroe for a time and worked in an aircraft factory in New Jersey and an auto factory in Detroit. Without knowing it, I had picked up some ideas of organizing from the activities around me, but I had never served in a union local and I lacked organizing experience. But I am an active person and I hated to give up on something as important as the NAACP.

So one day I walked into a Negro poolroom in our town, interrupted a game by putting NAACP literature on the table and made a pitch. I recruited half of those present. This got our chapter off to a new start. We began a recruiting drive among laborers, farmers, domestic workers, the unemployed and any and all Negro people in the area. We ended up with a chapter that was unique in the whole NAACP because of working class composition and a leadership that was not middle class. Most important, we had a strong representation of returned veterans who were very militant and who didn’t scare easy. We started a struggle in Monroe and Union County to integrate public facilities and we had the support of a Unitarian group of white people. In 1957, with out any friction at all, we integrated the public library. It shocked us that in other Southern states, particularly Virginia, Negroes encountered such violence in trying to integrate libraries.

We moved on to win better rights for Negroes: economic rights, the right of education and the right of equal protection under the law. We rapidly got the reputation of being the most militant branch of the NAACP Obviously we couldn’t get this reputation without antagonizing the racists who are trying to prevent Afro-Americans from enjoying their inalienable human rights as Americans. Specifically, we aroused the wrath of the Ku Klux Klan and a showdown developed over the integration of the swimming pool.

The Ku Klux Klan Swings into Action

As I explained in the last chapter, the swimming pool had been built with Federal funds under the WPA system and was supported by municipal taxation. Yet Negroes could not use it. Neither the Federal government nor the local officials had provided any swimming facilities for Negroes. Over a period of years several of our children had drowned while swimming in unsupervised swimming holes. When we lost another child in 1956 we started a drive to obtain swimming facilities for Negroes, especially for our children.

First, we asked the city officials to build a pool in the Negro community. This would have been a segregated pool, but we asked for this because we were merely interested in safe facilities for the children. The city officials said they couldn’t comply with this request because it would be too expensive and they didn’t have the money. Then, in a compromise move, we asked that they set aside one or two days out of each week when the segregated pool would be reserved for Negro children. They said that this too would be too expensive. Why would it be too expensive, we asked. Because, they said, each time the colored people used the pool they would have to drain the water and refill it.

They said they would eventually build us a pool when they got the funds. We asked them when we could expect it. One year? They said “No.” Five years? They said “No,” they couldn’t be sure. Ten years? They said that they couldn’t be sure. Finally we asked if we could expect it within fifteen years and they said that they couldn’t give us any definite promise.

There was a white Catholic priest in the community who owned a station wagon. He would transport the colored youth to Charlotte, N.C., which was twenty-five miles away, so they could swim there in the Negro pool. Some of the city officials of Charlotte saw this priest swimming in the Negro pool and they wanted to know who he was. The Negro supervisor explained that he was a priest. The city officials replied they didn’t care whether he was a priest or not, that he was white and they had segregation of the races in Charlotte. So they barred the priest from the colored pool.

Again the children didn’t have any safe place to swim at all-so we decided to take legal action against the Monroe pool.

First, we started a campaign of stand-ins of short duration. We would go stand for a few minutes and ask to be admitted and never get admitted. While we were preparing the groundwork for possible court proceedings, the Ku Klux Klan came out in the open. The press started to carry articles about the Klan activities. In the beginning they mentioned that a few hundred people would gather in open fields and have their Klan rallies. Then the numbers kept going up. The numbers went up to 3,000, 4,000, 5,000. Finally the Monroe Enquirer estimated that 7,500 Klansmen had gathered in a field to discuss dealing with the integrationists, described by the Klan as the “Communist-Inspired-National-Association-for-the-Advancement-of-Colored-People.” They started a campaign to get rid of us, to drive us out of the community, directed primarily at Dr. Albert E. Perry, our vice-president, and myself.

The Klan started by circulating a petition. To gather signatures they set up a table in the county courthouse square in Monroe. The petition stated that Dr. Perry and I should be permanently driven out of Union County because we were members and officials of the Communist-NAACP. The Klan claimed 3,000 signatures in the first week. In the following week they claimed 3,000 more. They had no basis for any legal action, but they had hoped to frighten us out of town by virtue of sheer numbers.

In the history of the South in days past, it was enough to know that so many people wanted to get rid of a Negro to make him take off by himself. One must remember that in this community where the press estimated that there were 7,500 Klan supporters, the population of the town was only about 12,000 people. Actually, many of the Klan people came in from South Carolina, Monroe being only fourteen miles from the state border.

When they discovered that this could not intimidate us, they decided to take direct action. After their rallies they would drive through our community in motorcades and honk their horns and fire pistols from the car windows. On one occasion, they caught a colored woman on an isolated street corner and made her dance at pistol point.

At this outbreak of violence against our Negro community, a group of pacifist ministers went to the city officials and asked that the Klan be prohibited from forming these motorcades to parade through Monroe. The officials of the county and the city rejected their request on the grounds that the Klan was a legal organization having as much constitutional right to organize as the NAACP.

Self-Defense Is Born of Our Plight

Since the city officials wouldn’t stop the Klan, we decided to stop the Klan ourselves. We started this action out of the need for defense because law and order had completely vanished; because there was no such thing as a 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution in Monroe, N.C. The Local officials refused to enforce law and order and when we turned to Federal and state officials to enforce law and order they either refused or ignored our appeals.

Luther Hodges, who is now Secretary of Commerce, was the Governor of North Carolina at that time. We first appealed to him. He took sides with the Klan; they had not broken any laws, they were not disorderly, he said. Then we appealed to President Eisenhower but we never received a reply to our telegrams. There was no response at all from Washington.

So we started arming ourselves. I wrote to the National Rifle Association in Washington which encourages veterans to keep in shape to defend their native land and asked for a charter, which we got. In a year we had sixty members. We had bought some guns too, in stores, and later a church in the North raised money and got us better rifles. The Klan discovered we were arming and guarding our community. In the summer of 1957 they made one big attempt to stop us. An armed motorcade attacked Dr. Perry’s house, which is situated on the outskirts of the colored community. We shot it out with the Klan and repelled their attack and the Klan didn’t have any more stomach for this type of fight. They stopped raiding our community. After this clash the same city officials who said the Klan had a constitutional right to organize met in an emergency session and passed a city ordinance banning the Klan from Monroe without a special permit from the police chief.

At the time of our clash with the Klan only three Negro publications-the Afro-American, the Norfolk Journal and Guide, and Jet Magazine-reported the fight. Jet carried some pictures of the self-defense guard. Our fight occurred two weeks before the famous clash between the Indians and the Klan. We had driven the Klan out of our county into the Indian territory. The national press played up the Indian Klan fight because they didn’t consider this a great threat the Indians are a tiny minority and people could laugh at the incident as a sentimental joke-but no one wanted Negroes to get the impression that this was an accepted way to deal with the Klan. So the white press maintained a complete blackout about the Monroe fight.

After the Klan learned that violence wouldn’t serve their purpose they started to use the racist courts. Dr. Perry, our vice-president, was indicted on a trumped-up charge of abortion. He is a Catholic physician, and one of the doctors who had been head of the county medical department drove forty miles to testify in Dr. Perry’s behalf, declaring that when Dr. Perry had worked in the hospital he had refused to file sterilization permits for the County Welfare Department on the ground that this was contrary to his religious beliefs. But he was convicted, sentenced to five years in prison, and the loss of his medical license.

The Kissing Case

In October, 1958, two local colored boys, David Simpson, aged 7, and Hanover Thompson, aged 9, were arrested on the charge of rape which is punishable in North Carolina by death.

This was the famous “Kissing Case.” What had happened was that David and Hanover got into a game of “cowboys and Indians” with some white children one afternoon. After a while, the white girls in the group suggested they play “house.” One of the little white girls, Sissy Sutton, sat on Hanover’s lap and suddenly recognized Hanover as her old playmate. Hanover’s mother worked for Sissy’s mother and until Hanover reached school age his mother had taken him with her when she went to work at the Sutton house.

When this little girl discovered that Hanover was her old playmate she kissed him on the cheek. Later on in the afternoon she ran home and told her mother how she had seen Hanover and how she was so happy to see him again that she had kissed him.

Sissy’s mother got hysterical when she heard this and called the police. Before the two boys had even gotten home they were arrested and thrown into the county jail. If a person is arrested for rape in North Carolina he is not permitted to see anyone for a period of time while the police investigate. Therefore the police didn’t notify the boys’ parents.

A few days later when we finally found out what had happened and where the two missing boys were, we tried to get help. But the national office of the NAACP wouldn’t have anything to do with the case because it was a “sex case.” A seven-year-old white girl had kissed a nine-year-old Negro boy on the cheek and the national office didn’t want any part of it.

The children were sent to the reformatory soon after they were arrested. I called the civil rights lawyer, Conrad Lynn, and he carne down from New York. First thing, he went to talk with Judge Hampton Price, who had passed sentence.

The Judge said to Lynn that he had held a “separate but equal hearing.” Lynn asked him what he meant by a “separate but equal hearing.” And the Judge told him how on the morning of the trial he had called in Mrs. Sutton and her daughter, and Mrs. Sutton had made a statement, and they were sent home. Then in the afternoon the two Negro mothers were summoned to the Judge, and their boys were brought in. Then the Judge said to Lynn, I told them what Mrs. Sutton had told me and then since they were guilty- I sent them up for fourteen years at the reformatory.”

The NAACP national office still wasn’t doing anything about the case but an English reporter who was a friend of Lynn’s visited the reformatory and sneaked out a photograph of the boys, which appeared along with a story on the front page of the Dec. 15,1958, London News Chronicle. Then all of Europe got wind of the case and there were protest demonstrations in London, Rotterdam, Rome, and Paris. Only then did many American newspapers begin to express “concern” about the ‘Kissing Case.”

At the end of December, 1958, Dr, Perry, Conrad Lynn, and I were called to New York by Roy Wilkins and he offered me a job in Detroit if I’d leave Monroe. I flatly refused his offer.

By now so much pressure was building up abroad and even in the U.S.A. that the NAACP national office entered the case-this case that had until now involved such dreadful sexual implications. In late January there was a hearing, but the children were sent back to the reformatory. Meanwhile, world pressure was mounting. An example is that of the petition signed by the 15,000 students and faculty at a Rotterdam, Holland, high school named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The petition called for the release of the children and it was sent to Mrs. Roosevelt.

Somebody said something, finally, to President Eisenhower, and finally he said something to our then Governor Hodges, and on Feb. 13, 1959, the children were released.

“We Will Meet Violence with Violence”

In 1969 Mrs. Georgia White, a Negro mother of five children who worked in a Monroe hotel as a maid, was kicked down a flight of stairs into the lobby of the hotel by a white guest. He said he kicked Mrs. White down a flight of stairs because she had been making too much noise while working in the corridor and had disturbed his sleep. When we asked for an indictment, the chief of police, A. A. Mauney, refused our request. Finally when we threatened to take legal action by bringing in NAACP lawyers, he relented and placed this man under a $75 bond. Even though this white defendant subsequently failed to appear in court for his trial, he was not convicted.

That same day there was another colored woman in court, Mrs. Mary Ruth Reid. Mrs. Reid was eight months pregnant. She was the victim of an attempted rape by a white man who came to her house, drove her from her house, and then beat her. He caught her while she was trying to escape down the main highway and knocked her to the ground. Mrs. Reid’s six-year-old boy was running along the side and when the white rapist beat his mother the boy picked up a stick and started hitting the man over the head with it while his mother escaped. She went to a neighbor’s house and her neighbor called the police and gave her aid. The neighbor was a white woman and she came to court that day with Mrs. Reid. She came and testified that she had seen the defendant chasing Mrs. Reid and that Mrs. Reid had come to her house in an excited and hysterical state, without shoes, and with her clothes torn from her. This testimony required considerable courage on the part of Mrs. Reid’s white neighbor.

During the trial the defense attorney arranged for the defendant’s wife to sit at his side as if she were also involved in the case. Then the defense attorney appealed to the jury. He said, “Judge, Your Honor, and ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you see this man. This is his wife. This woman, this white woman is the pure flower of life. She is one of God’s lovely creatures, a pure flower. And do you think this man would have left this pure flower for that?” And he made it appear as if the colored woman was actually on trial. Then the defense ended by saying, “It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re going to believe this woman or this white man. Judge, Your Honor, this man is not guilty of any crime. He was just drinking and having a little fun.” The man was acquitted.

Mrs. Reid had several brothers who had wanted to kill her white attacker before the trial began. But I persuaded them not to do anything. I said that this was a matter that would be handled legally, that we would get a lawyer-which we did. We brought a lawyer all the way from New York who wasn’t even allowed to take the floor in court. So I was responsible for this would-be rapist not being punished.

The courtroom was full of colored women and when this man was acquitted they turned to me and said, “Now what are you going to do? You have opened the floodgates on us. Now these people know that they can do anything that they want to us and there is no prospect of punishment under law and it means that we have been exposed to these people and you’re responsible for it. Now what are you going to say?” I told them that in a civilized society the law is a deterrent against the strong who would take advantage of the weak, but the South is not a civilized society; the South is a social jungle. So in cases like this we have to revert to the law of the jungle; it had become necessary for us to create our own deterrent. I said that in the future we would defend our women and children, our homes and ourselves with our arms. That we would meet violence with violence.

My statement was reprinted all over the United States. What I had said was, “This demonstration today shows that the Negro in the South cannot expect justice in the courts. He must convict his attackers on the spot. He must meet violence with violence, lynching with lynching.”

The next day in an interview with the Carolina Times I again pointed to the lack of protection from the courts. I said, “These court decisions open the way to violence. I do not mean that Negroes should go out and attempt to get revenge for mistreatments or injustices.” I made this statement again on the same day over a Cincinnati radio station. Later that evening in a telecast interview in Charlotte I again made clear that I was speaking of self-defense when the courts fail to protect us.

Since the principle is so obvious, I couldn’t understand the commotion my statement aroused or why it should receive so much national publicity. Two years previously, when we had shot up the Ku Klux Klan in self-defense, not a single white newspaper in America reported the incident. We were only serving notice that we would do more of the same, that Negro self-defense was here to stay in Monroe. So I didn’t feel we were doing anything new. I realize now that we were establishing a principle, born out of our experience, which could, and would, set an example to others.

Looking back, it is clear that racists made a big error in publicizing our stand. Even though it has caused me and my family a great deal of suffering, the result has been to force a debate on the issue. It also shook up the NAACP considerably out of its timid attitudes and forced an official reaffirmation from the NAACP of the right of Negroes to selfdefense against racist violence.