You 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.

For 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.

The Dialectics 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.

The 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 themselves.”

This 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.

I 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 left.

What 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.

Other 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.

Dialectics of Liberation 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.

Alkalimat 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.

The Dialectics of Liberation 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.

Aluta continua—the struggle continues!

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle. Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog jamalarogers.com. Contact Ms. Rogers and BC.

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