Boggs Center Living For Change – News Letter August 23rd, 2017

Technological man/woman developed because human beings had to discover how to keep warm, how to make fire, how to grow food, how to build dams, how to dig wells. Therefore human beings were compelled to manifest their humanity in their technological capacity, to discover the power within them to invent tools and techniques which would extend their material powers. We have concentrated our powers on making things to the point that we have intensified our greed for more things, and lost the understanding of why this productivity was originally pursued. The result is that the mind of man/woman is now totally out of balance, totally out of proportion. That is what production for the sake of production has done to modern man/woman. That is the basic contradiction confronting everyone who has lived and developed inside the United States. That is the contradiction which neither the U.S. government nor any social force in the United States up to now has been willing to face, because the underlying philosophy of this country, from top to bottom, remains the philosophy that economic development can and will resolve all political and social problems.
Revolution and Evolution – CH 6 Dialectics and Revolution

 Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.

Living for Change News
August 23rd, 2017

20690093_1452532254814922_5802810215017451539_o

Thinking for Ourselves

Greensboro Lessons
Shea Howell

While outrage, anger, and the acknowledgement of the moral vacuum of the White House dominated the media this week, another story of Nazis, the Klan and killing emerged in Greensboro, North Carolina. There, after nearly 40 years, the Greensboro City Council voted to apologize for the murder of 5 people gathered to peacefully protest the Klan and Nazi in 1979. Joyce Johnson of the Beloved Community Center who has worked for truth and reconciliation over these long years said, “In the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville and after years of organizing by survivors and supporters, the Greensboro City Council finally voted to issue an apology for the November 3, 1979 Greensboro Massacre. Council members also agreed to study the full Final Report of the Greensboro TRC.”She said, “I’m shedding tears of joy tonight for this small victory, even as we strengthen our resolve to continue our quest for truth, justice, reconciliation, and healing in Greensboro and throughout our country. Let’s turn these tragedies into triumphs!”  

There are many lessons from Greensboro. On November 3 of 1979 labor and community activists and members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP) organized a Death to the Klan march, set to begin in the Morningside Homes community. This was in response to increased Klan activity in Greensboro as activists sought to unionize mill workers. As marchers gathered in the early morning, police withdrew. Shortly, a caravan of Klan and Nazi members pulled up and calmly took rifles out of their trunks. They shot into the crowd, killing five of the organizers and wounding 10 others. The shootings were captured on a reporter’s video tape.

In the state and federal criminal trials that followed,  all-white juries found the KKK and Nazis not guilty. In 1985 a civil jury found two police officers and six Klansmen and Nazis liable for the wrongful death of one of those killed and for the assault and battery of two survivors.

For nearly 4 decades the Reverend Nelson Johnson and Joyce Johnson have organized through the Beloved Community Center to help Greensboro and the country face the violence that holds white supremacy in place.  They have organized marches, vigils, meetings, protests, sit ins, occupations, public art, speak outs, conversations, and confrontations.

Inspired by the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa, they initiated a two year process in Greensboro, establishing a public Truth and Reconciliation Commission to study what happened, why it happened, and what should be done.  The report was released in 2006. It made clear the Klan and Nazi parties were responsible for the shootings. It also acknowledged the role of the local police in promoting violence and the fact that the Greensboro Police Department, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had information from informants about the Klan and neo-Nazi plan to attack the demonstration, they followed and photographed the caravan of armed attackers, and took no action until after the shootings.

The report also acknowledged that the CWP had some responsibility in intensifying the atmosphere through their rhetoric.  However, the report was clear, this was a “lesser” responsibility.

Since the conclusion of the Commission, the Beloved Community Center has struggled to make its findings meaningful to the community. In 2009 the City Council voted to issue a statement of regret for the shootings, but stopped short of an apology.

In 2015 the Beloved Community Center initiated placing an historical marker, backed by the state historical commission, to commemorate the “Greensboro Massacre.” Some civic leaders objected, wanting the term “shooting” or shoot out, rather than massacre. But after public testimony and discussion, the City Council voted 7-2 approving massacre.

Last week, with the echoes of Charlottesville reawakening the Greensboro Massacre, the City Council took one more step toward reconciliation with its painful past. They issued a public apology and took responsibility for the city’s role in these preventable, needless deaths.

Greensboro reminds us that there are no quick fixes or easy ways to move beyond the hatred of the KKK and the American Nazi Party, or any of the multitude of white supremacist, fanatical Christian sects whose hatred is woven into the fabric of our country. But they also remind us that through constant effort, to confront, to talk, to resist and persist, it is possible to fashion loving communities out of hateful moments.
Idlewild_PettyPropolis

Our Movement Moment
Tawana Honeycomb Petty
The year 2017 has proven to be a year of movement nostalgia. From the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s Time to Break Silence speech, to the commemorations around the long hot summer of 1967 where rebellions sprung up all across the globe (most prominently in Detroit); to the ramping up of white counter-revolutionary forces and the reemergence of the Poor People’s Campaign.
I spent the last few years trying to convince myself that this country isn’t moving rapidly backwards, yet the strategies of the revolution and counter-revolution appear eerily familiar.
I find myself revisiting writings and speeches as far back as 1970 by James “Jimmy” and Grace Boggs, such as The Awesome Responsibilities of Revolutionary Leadership.

In this speech Jimmy and Grace proclaimed partly:”Meanwhile, in fact, overall conditions in the black community have been deteriorating, while at the same time the spontaneous activities of the black street masses and the much publicized but futile reform efforts of the white power structure have aroused the “white backlash,” which is only another name for the fascist counter-revolution.

There is little point in complaining about the skillful use of the Almighty American Dollar to co-opt Black Power or the rise of the fascist counter-revolution. In confusing, undermining, and mobilizing to repress the black movement, white power is only doing what its self-interest dictates. If the fault lies anywhere, it is with the black movement for failing to arm the black community theoretically and politically against the predictable strategy and tactics of the enemy and to make clear that fascism cannot be stopped short of a total revolution dedicated to ending man’s domination of man and his fear of those whom he dominates.
To do this, the black movement must recognize and keep pointing out the limits of what can be achieved by the black masses, for the same reason that Lenin insisted on the limits of what could be achieved by the spontaneous eruptions of Russian workers. The spontaneity of the workers does not take them beyond the level of the immediate, palpable, concrete interests of the everyday economic struggle, as Lenin kept pointing out. In a similar vein, black revolutionists must realize that the spontaneous eruptions of the black masses do not take them beyond the demand that white power alleviate their accumulated grievances, no matter how angry or explosive the masses are or how much Black Power talk and symbolism accompany their actions. Reliance upon spontaneity is, therefore, a form of liberalism because, in effect, it increases the illusion that the issues and grievances of the masses can be resolved without taking power away from those in power.”

I find myself questioning how much we have really learned from the past. I have always been taught that if you don’t know your history, you are doomed to repeat it. I question that sentiment, because a lot of us now know our history, but it seems we are still on a trajectory to repeat it. The question for me now becomes, what then should be pulled from our history and what should be left behind?

As the reemergence of the Poor People’s Campaign ramps up, I grow more concerned about this movement moment. I worry about the counter-revolution utilizing the energy of our elder and yelder (young elder) revolutionaries to whip on the momentum of our young revolutionaries. I worry about the narrative of the acceptable negro vs. the rabble rousers. A narrative that has often been used to compare Dr. King to the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM). A narrative that has been flung around as punishment for youthful radicalism with a Dr. King and Stokley-esq tension that has been revived and nurtured consistently over the past several years. “What would Dr. King do?” has been leveraged as a weapon against millennial activism.

We live in a moment that allows for Black Lives Matter activists to be deemed “terrorists” and “purveyors of hate” by members of the United States Government, and right-wing racists over the internet – with little uproar from the left. A moment that has placed, and continues to place youthful activists at extreme risk of being assassinated, permanently incarcerated and disappeared like many of their predecessors from the Black Panther Party. Yet, with all that these young activists and organizers have sacrificed, I rarely hear of any of them being deemed by the movement as political prisoners or revolutionaries.

Many young activists (particularly since Ferguson) who have sided with BLM have obtained felonies through their activism. Many have been harassed and threatened with violence, or worse, some have mysteriously been killed with little to no recourse for their assassinations.

I am grateful to see the fervor of activists and organizers of all generations moving in pursuit of their passions. In the words of Grace, “It’s a great time to be alive,” however, it is my hope that we do not lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together. That the struggle for liberation is multifaceted, and there has been no strategy to date that has liberated us all from the grasp of this violent system of white supremacy, nurtured by ruthless capitalism and militarism.

I am also hopeful that white allies in the struggle against white supremacy will start to move from actors on behalf of black people and people of color, toward co-liberators who recognize that their own humanity is wrapped up into the very same system that is seeking to destroy us.

I recognize, and have been taught that “all contradictions are not antagonistic,” but I also know that they can be, if left unaddressed.

All Power to Us All!


part0 2

grace lee boggs PAYS 1

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Technological man/woman developed because human beings had to discover how to keep warm, how to make fire, how to grow food, how to build dams, how to dig wells. Therefore human beings were compelled to manifest their humanity in their technological capacity, to discover the power within them to invent tools and techniques which would extend their material powers. We have concentrated our powers on making things to the point that we have intensified our greed for more things, and lost the understanding of why this productivity was originally pursued. The result is that the mind of man/woman is now totally out of balance, totally out of proportion. That is what production for the sake of production has done to modern man/woman. That is the basic contradiction confronting everyone who has lived and developed inside the United States. That is the contradiction which neither the U.S. government nor any social force in the United States up to now has been willing to face, because the underlying philosophy of this country, from top to bottom, remains the philosophy that economic development can and will resolve all political and social problems.

Revolution and Evolution – CH 6 Dialectics and Revolution

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *