by Karima Amin
As Black History Month begins to draw to a close, I am compelled to review the kinds of presentations that I have delivered and witnessed which referenced the African’s desire for freedom. From the time that African people were kidnapped from their homes and transported to the Western Hemisphere, they fought to be free, died to be free, and struggled to rid themselves of the shackles that held their bodies, the opinions that chained their progress, and the laws that limited their successful strivings.
On the slave ship “Amistad,” in 1839, a 25-year-old enslaved African known as “Cinque,” broke out of his shackles, released the other 52 Africans and led a revolt. Though the rebellion was unsuccessful, it highlighted the African’s determination to be free. There are more than 300 documented slave ship rebellions. As a result of these rebellions, fifteen to twenty percent of the slave ships, which left Africa, never made it to the so-called “new world.” In my work, I sometimes refer to famous uprisings on American soil, and the men who led them. These serve as powerful examples of a people yearning to be free: Gabriel Prosser (1800), Denmark Vesey (1822), and Nat Turner (1831). Some enslaved Africans simply walked away or ran away from plantations where their lives were made miserable by torture, abuse, and dehumanization. Harriet Tubman’s story is well known as the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. After freeing herself, she organized nineteen more trips to liberate others.
Any study of the Prison Industrial Complex, draws similarities between it and the Plantation System as well as the Convict Leasing System that followed. Most Africans in America came involuntarily and endured decades of pain and intimidation. But the desire to be free did not stop the struggle. Organizing for liberation has continued as a way of life.
As we move forward into more modern times, the Black Liberation Movement became front-page news in the 1960’s. After Rosa Parks said, “No” in Montgomery, Alabama and Emmett Till was lynched in Money, Mississippi, both in 1955, the modern-day Civil Rights Movement was in full-swing and in 1966 the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was born. Originating in Oakland, California, its founders were Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The Black Panthers stressed racial dignity and self-reliance.
At the next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too, Inc., on Monday, February 27, from 7:00-9:00 at the Pratt Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo, we will screen the movie “Panther” (1995). A discussion about organizing will follow. This movie is rated R for strong violence and language.
More information: Karima Amin, firstname.lastname@example.org; 716-834-8438.
“God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.” (Anonymous)