can tell things were popping in the late sixties and early seventies
by all the anniversaries we’ve been celebrating over the last
couple of years.
example, there was the 50th anniversary of the Congress of African
People and the 40th of the National Black United Front in 2020.
There’s the 50th anniversary of the National Black Political
Convention in Gary and the big 5-0 for the African Liberation Support
Committee this year. Next year we’ll be celebrating the 160th
anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 60th anniversary
of the March on Washington. And then there are numerous local events
that will be recognized which impacted our movement for racial
justice and equity.
of Liberation: African Liberation Support Committee
(ALSC) is written in the spirit of Sankofa, the mythical African bird
which has its feet planted firmly forward while its head is turned
backward. This means that wisdom is drawn from the past and should
never be forgotten. Abdul Alkalimat’s goal in authoring the book is
to advance a critical examination of the ALSC in the context of the
revolutionary period that gave birth to it. The book documents the
important relationships that those of African descent in the U.S. had
with Africa and our uncompromising support of the liberation
struggles being waged at that time.
demise of the ALSC is a controversial one. There are many observers
who believe that it was the Marxists Leninists aka the Black Left
(like Abdul Alkalimat) who wreaked havoc inside the ALSC, resulting
in its short lifespan. As the author says in his book, “the best of
the 1960s generation turned to the left and then turned on
is an insightful point that needs deeper reflection. In the early
seventies, many of us were influenced by the African liberation
struggles of FRELIMO, UNITA, PAIGC, ZANU-ZAPO. They were embracing
the ideological tenets of Marx and Lenin and applying them to
revolutionary action. Many Black nationalist organizations were also
ripe for new ways of thinking and organizing.
was member cadre of the Congress of African People at the time and we
were very active in the building of ALSC chapters across the country,
essentially wherever our CAP chapters were located. Our St. Louis rep
to the national ALSC leadership was Jeledi Kalimu Endesha, mistakenly
listed in the book as being from South Bend, Indiana. CAP was also
making its departure from nationalist Kawaida and leaning into
socialism. On the way to becoming the Revolutionary Communist League
(M-L-M), CAP died an unnatural death. Some former CAP-RCL members
(myself included) believe it was a political error to dissolve CAP.
It could have continued as a Black mass organization while RCL stood
its ground as a cadre organization fighting for socialism. That
action still remains a source of bad feelings for some CAP members,
just as there was resentment by those who felt pushed out by the
ideological struggles that were rapidly propelling the ALSC to the
most people will remember about ALSC—past the establishment of
African Liberation Day—was that it was a hotbed for the national
debate between nationalism and Marxism. The dialectics of how this
occurred is a central theme in the book. Alkalimat defines it as
opposites battling it out and in the transformative process, creating
something new. One could argue as to whether these tendencies are
truly opposite and if not, why they were set up to be in total
opposition to one another.
prevailing questions are, did the ALSC take on too much too quickly?
How did patriarchy impact the internal dynamics? How did class
privilege play out in the ideological debates? Wh1at role did the
State play? There is still much to discuss and the book invites us to
open up the door to all of these rooms.
should be seen as a historical contribution to the development of the
anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement in the U.S. For that
period of time, the eyes of the world were on Africa and Africans in
America as we threw off the shackles of oppression—one with the gun
and the other with direct actions. Incredible strides were made and
African Liberation Day lives on.
lays out ten key lessons to inform current movement strategy and
tactics. If you’ve been reading my writings for the last few years,
you will know that his #3 is my #1: The Black Liberation Movement
needs a Black Left. The other lessons are equally important, ranging
from the need of African Americans to support African liberation to
movement activists making space for respect and healing.
has undoubtedly opened up some old wounds of the past but it has also
provided valuable lessons on how to effectively struggle for greater
unity in a new period.
continua—the struggle continues!