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Israel And Colonization Of African Americans

By Matt Peppe | Just the Facts | January 17, 2015

Israeli politicians have one singular goal: to engineer a permanent demographic majority in Mandatory Palestine that will allow them to maintain their repression of Palestinians under the facade of democracy. This can be accomplished in two ways, killing or expelling Palestinians from Greater Israel and attracting new Jewish immigrants. Both are unofficial Israeli state policies. Thus it was no surprise that after the Paris massacres Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored the Jews of France and Europe: “Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home.” The idea that your home is determined by your ethnicity rather than your life experience is not a new one. It is common among racists who believe biology is more important than language and culture, famously embraced by opponents of equality for African Americans before the Civil War.

The Zionist political movement was founded by Theodor Herzl, a European atheist from a Jewish family. Many of the founding fathers of the Israeli state, such as David Ben-Gurion, were also atheists whose belief in the Bible only extended as far as it served their nationalist identification. As Shlomo Sand writes in The Invention of the Jewish People: “the Bible became an ethnic marker, indicating a common origin for individuals of very different backgrounds and secular cultures yet all still hated for their religion, which they barely observed. [1]

The Zionist aspiration was to band together based on an imaginary shared ancestry to achieve political domination. At first, Ben-Gurion recognized – as all serious historians today do – that the Palestinians were descendants of the Judean peasants who inhabited the land at the time of the Arab conquest. “Historical reason indicates that the population that survived since the seventh century had originated from the Judean farming class that the Muslim conquerors had found when they reached the country,” wrote Ben-Gurion in a book coauthored with Itzhak Ben-Zvi, the future Israeli President, in 1918. [2]

Later, when Palestinians resisted Zionist machinations for a Jewish state on their land, it became apparent that it would be impossible for Zionists to integrate what they saw as an inferior culture into their political scheme. This caused Ben-Gurion and others to simply eschew their former historical understanding in order to strip the native population of any rights they enjoyed as the rightful owners of their land, and justify the dispossession required for Zionists to subvert them. Sand writes that after the Palestinian revolt of 1936-39, “the descendants of the Judean peasantry vanished from the Jewish national consciousness and were cast into oblivion.” [3]

Zionists understood race and ethnicity as the true determinant of one’s political association. But they proved they valued political domination above all, eagerly punishing people who identified with their neighbors and shared cultural values over ideas about biological origins. It is now understood that European Jews are descendants of the Khazars, who ruled an empire of converts to Judaism in present-day Russia. But even if the Biblical version of Judaism were true, the idea that a race of people share immutable similarities that should be the basis of a political association is a racist one.

For one thing, it perverts the idea of “home” as a product of biology rather than an individual perception. Writing about the “socially and psychologically .. delicate” impact of immigration, Orly Noy describes the process her family went through 36 years ago to immigrate to Israel from Iran. “According to Isareli parameters, we are seen as a successful aliyah story. However, not a day goes by in which I’m not painfully aware of how we were torn from our home, from our language, our most intimate cultural codes – and how those deep scars remain with my parents to this day.”

When Netanyahu and Israeli politicans cavalierly call for Jews across the world to “return” to their “home,” it demonstrates their desire to solidify their political power at the expense of the people they proclaim to care about. Instead of viewing Jews as individuals who speak many languages, have roots in countries all over the globe, and have attachments to the places where they have grown up and live their lives, they are seen as a vehicle for political power.

As Joseph Massad says, Israel demands a “right to be racist state that discriminates by law against Palestinians and other Arabs and grants differential legal rights and privileges to its own Jewish citizens and to all other Jews anywhere.” These legal rights include the “Law of Return” that allows Jews from anywhere in the world to move to Israel and obtain citizenship, while Palestinian refugees are denied entry to Israel by the “Prevention of Infiltration Law.”

Opponents of Zionism have fought back against Israel’s colonization of another people based on a racist political philosophy that justifies oppression and subjugation.

The Israeli colonial project shares many similarities with the ideas of many Americans in the pre-Civil-War era United States who believed the abolition of slavery should be tied to a project to colonize African Americans, in Liberia, Central America or the Caribbean, or elsewhere.

The most famous proponent of the colonization idea was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had inherited the idea from his political idol Henry Clay, who helped to found the American Colonization Society in 1816.

Supporters of colonization of African Americans generally believed that as an inferior race, blacks did not belong in the United States and should therefore leave the country to prevent a threat to whites. As Zionists see Jews as sharing a common ancestral home, so did American colonization proponents see Africa as the home of blacks.

Lincoln himself evolved on the topic throughout his political career, but he was never an abolitionist who believed blacks deserved equal rights. He opposed slavery as an institution and supported the application of the principles of the Declaration of Independence to slaves, but he never believed in equality between blacks and whites.

“I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality … I … am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position,” Lincoln said in 1858. [4]

Even after the start of the Civil War, Lincoln made clear his support for the gradual emancipation to be coupled with colonization.

Both Zionism and white supremacy are guilty of propagating the myth of race as a biologically legitimate fact, when it is in fact nothing more than an artificial social construct. People who believe in the division of society by race and ethnicity propagate racist ideas that reduce people to classifications that have no legitimacy other than what people choose to believe.

Not surprisingly, African Americans almost unanimously opposed colonization. At a convention of blacks in Springfield, Illinois in 1858, the gathering declared: “We believe that the operations of the Colonization Society are calculated to excite prejudices against us, and they impel ignorant or ill disposed persons to take measures for our expulsion from the land of our nativity… We claim the right of citizenship in this, the country of our birth … We are not African.” [5]

The famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass was equally adamant about African Americans belonging to the country where they lived and were raised. He blasted those who sought colonization to expel blacks from the United States: “Shame upon the guilty wretches that dare propose, and all that countenance such a proposition. We live here – have lived here – have a right to live here, and mean to live here,” Douglass wrote.

Despite Zionists purporting to act in the interest of global Jewry, they are essentially playing the same role as American white supremacists. While white supremacists sought to expel African Americans to ensure white rule over the United States, Zionists seek to import Jews to ensure Jewish rule over Mandatory Palestine.

The notion of ethnic supremacy is incompatible with a decolonized nation where all citizens enjoy equal rights regardless of what imaginary ethnic group you believe you belong to.

Works Cited

[1] Sand, Shlomo. The Invention of the Jewish People. Verso, 2010.

[2] as cited in Sand, 2010

[3] Sand, 2010

[4] as cited in Dilorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. Random House LLC, 2009.

[5] as cited in Foner, Eric. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. W.W. Norton & Company, 2011.

January 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Night raid in Beit Ummar: arrests, violence and property destruction

International Solidarity Movement | January 18, 2015

Beit Ummar, Occupied Palestine – Early Wednesday morning, January 14, 2015, a massive deployment of 400 Israeli occupation forces invaded the village of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. From 2:00 – 5:00 am, the occupation forces invaded approximately 100 Palestinian homes, arresting 25 males and leaving notices for 15 additional males to meet with the Israeli intelligence.

Photo taken by Aqsa TV -

Occupation soldiers invaded the private homes with violent force, blowing open the front doors with explosions, ransacking the rooms, breaking the furniture inside, smashing windows, and attacking the residents. One of the victims of this brutal invasion was the family of 25-year-old Nidal Abu Maria.

Nidal is the oldest son of Ahmed Abu Maria, who has been imprisoned for the last four months. According to the family, the occupation soldiers forcibly entered their home with large aggressive dogs, blowing the door open with explosives.  Nidal’s mother, sister, and two brothers ages 6 and 7 were inside, and awoke shocked to find soldiers inside their home. The occupation forces locked Nidal’s mother in a separate room, away from her children, and took her phone, noting the family members phone numbers from it. The pregnant sister attempted to speak to the young boys, who were scared of the military invasion and their dogs, when the occupation forces violently hit her in the face and told her to keep quiet. In addition to physical violence against the family, the soldiers also ransacked the home, destroying the windows, the furniture, and the entire kitchen. Nearly 99 other houses were also invaded this same night, and experienced the same destruction.

Photo taken by Aqsa TV -

During this brutal night invasion, 25 males were taken from their homes and arrested without any official charges or explanations. According to Ma’an News, those detained were as young as sixteen years old. The youths were not known activists nor had there been any protests in Beit Ummar since the massacre in Gaza for them to take part in. Five were released the next morning, while the rest still remain in custody. Additionally, the invading soldiers left official request notices for 15 residents of Beit Ummar to report to the Israeli Intelligence at the Kfar Etzion prison in the nearby Kfar Etzion settlement the following day. Nidal Abu Maria, along with his brother and cousin, were among those that were requested to report to Kfar Etzion.

Nidal decided to not comply with the occupying army’s request, and did not report to the prison at9:00 AM on Wednesday as the soldiers demanded. However, after the occupation forces called him and his mother on the phone, threatening the lives of the family, he felt he had no choice. When Nidal answered one of the many phone calls from the military and questioned why he should follow orders from an occupying military, the Secret Service member told him, “I am the state of Israel, I am the one who has power, I am the law”.

Nidal and his brother reported to the Kfar Etzion prison on Thursday morning and were interrogated for several hours by the Israeli intelligence. During the interrogation when the brothers were being questioned, they were told, “We want to make sure you guys are ok, and that you are doing the right things and not the wrong things.”   Additionally, the interrogator told Nidal, “If you miss your uncle (the martyr), I will send you to him.”  Nidal interprets this as a direct threat against his life.

Nidal’s family is no stranger to such violence at the hands of the Israeli occupation. Nidal’s father has been detained and imprisoned eight times for a total length of five years – once on charges of organizing peaceful protests in Beit Ummar, while the other seven times were without official charges. Additionally, Nidal’s uncle Hashem Abu Maria was executed on July 25, 2014 during a peaceful protest against the 2014 massacre in Gaza. Hashem was shot in the heart by an Israeli sniper on the main street, while encouraging the children to go home rather than risk being hurt in the demonstration. Hashem worked for the Defence For Children International documenting child-rights violation in Hebron and according to Haaretz, this was the role that Hashem played in many protests. Nidal’s aunt, the wife of Hashem, has suffered greatly since his death, and even months later she is still afraid to sleep in the house without him.

Ten days after Hashem’s assassination, the occupation forces invaded Beit Ummar and arrested Ahmed, Nidal’s father. He is currently still imprisoned and has not been officially charged with any crime. Despite not facing official charges, Nidal’s family is told that he faces three years in prison.

In the year of 2014, over 400 residents of Beit Ummar were arrested and over 120 residents are still currently imprisoned, some without official charges. Additionally, 3 residents were killed during this time. When asked why Beit Ummar experiences such frequent violence at the hands of the occupation army, Nidal explains it has a lot to do with its location. “Beit Ummar is surrounded by three settlements: Migdal Oz, Kfar Etzion and Karmei Zur. The village is located close to the main road that connects the settlements from Bethlehem to Hebron. The official explanation from the occupation forces are that these actions are taken against Beit Ummar for ‘security reasons’.”  These nearby settlements have confiscated nearly one third of the village’s land which is located in Area C. Additionally, much of the military violence against Beit Ummar can be attributed to their strong commitment to resistance against the occupation. Beit Ummar was the site of nearly two protests every week during the 2014 attack on Gaza.

For residents of Beit Ummar the recent violence happens whenever there is a new commander in the area. Nidal explains that the commanders like to introduce themselves by sending a strong message to the local Palestinian population. The new commander in the Beit Ummar area goes under the name Abu Abed and is a former member of the Israeli Intelligence.

January 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Democracy Crusaders are Foes of Democracy

The World Seen Through a “Progressive” Western Keyhole versus a Panoramic Lens

By John V. Walsh | Dissident Voice | January 18, 2015

One of Castro’s closest comrades, the Argentine-born guerilla Che Guevara, had been in Guatemala in 1954 and witnessed the coup against Arbenz. Later he told Castro why it succeeded. He said Arbenz had foolishly tolerated an open society, which the CIA penetrated and subverted, and also preserved the existing army, which the CIA turned into its instrument. Castro agreed that a revolutionary regime in Cuba must avoid those mistakes. Upon taking power, he cracked down on dissent and purged the army. Many Cubans supported his regime and were ready to defend it. (Emphasis, jw)

Stephen Kinzer, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War

The stark choice that confronted Castro and Guevara is faced by every nation seeking independence from the U.S., a far more powerful nation with enormous resources in terms of “soft” power, economic power and military power. The more open the society, the more opportunities for CIA-engineered regime change.  This was the lesson Arbenz learned in 1954 and Mossadegh before him in 1953, lessons that brought so much pain, death and destruction to their peoples in the decades to follow.

Judged by that outcome, the Castros made the right decision and as a result have presided over a healthy, educated and secure people. The drawback was that the Empire isolated Cuba economically, stifling the possibilities of more development and a higher standard of living. The Empire wants nations charting an independent course to be politically open to the regime change schemes and NGOs of the West but economically closed, shut off from more advanced economies. It is as simple as that.

For some defiant states the sort of regime change operation used against Mossadegh and Arbenz may be the only option which the United States has. This is certainly the case for China and Russia. All out war on these countries is out of reach – although the U.S. is trying to change that. The modus operandi of the Empire for the moment is to put Russia and China on the horns of tried and true dilemma. Open up politically, permit the development of forces that favor regime change – or remain less open and face criticism, especially criticism from Western governments and Western intellectuals, including the “progressive” or liberal intellectuals. This is crucial because “progressives” are the very people who – until Obama – were most likely to oppose imperial warfare – both military and economic. The Democracy Crusade is designed to neutralize them.

This criticism from the West is one lever, and an important one, that is used to force a society to be more open in its governance than its survival permits. Let us be clear. Without a rapacious West at the doorstep, the possibilities of openness and democracy are much greater in scope. Conversely, the more rapacious the West, the more restricted are the possibilities for a besieged nation if it wishes to survive and prosper with its sovereignty intact. Without sovereignty there can be no democracy. Rule conditioned on approval by a foreign source or by a puppet regime is never self-rule. So it is never democracy.

It follows that the best way to crusade for openness and democracy is to work against Western interventionism, whether that interventionism takes the form of armed attack, economic sanctions or the work of NGOs like the NED (National Endowment for Democracy). This is absolutely crucial to understand. A criticism of a besieged country will increase the pressure on that country and hence lead to a decrease in political openness. Paradoxically, this is true even if the criticism is one that calls for more democracy.

The recent events in Hong Kong are but the latest example of this dynamic. There the NED had long been actively involved in promoting “democracy,” along with other U.S. NGOs and the U.S. Consulate, with its staff of 600. These forces recruited very young  “activists,” with high school students at the forefront.  (A Chinese friend of mine noted with disgust that easily manipulated high school students were also in the forefront of the Cultural Revolution.) The movement sought elimination of the screening of candidates by a committee of 1,200 Hong Kong residents for the next election of the CEO, a position akin to governor. The composition of the committee was open to negotiation. (It went unmentioned in the West that there was no election when Hong Kong was a colony of the UK. The governor was appointed by the Queen – period. It also went unmentioned that there is a similar sort of “screening” of candidates in the U.S., with the major parties serving in the role of screeners. If you do not believe that, ask the Greens or the Libertarians or Ralph Nader.) Most importantly the leaders of the movement and their U.S. backers made no secret of their hope that the disturbances in Hong Kong would spread to the mainland and provoke a movement against the Chinese government. They are advocates of regime change in China as are their mentors at the NED.

What has the current government of China, led by its Communist Party, done for China? It has led China out of colonial domination by the West. It has forged a level of economic development with a rapidity unseen before in all of human history. It has ended poverty for 600 million people and continues on the quest to raise millions more out of poverty. For the world it has meant a power, China, which is sufficiently strong to provide a multipolar world. That in turn means that the countries of the world have an alternative to Western domination, which has been the fate of most of the world for hundreds of years. Russia and Iran, for example, can trade with China when the West slaps sanctions on them. As a result at this moment there is the possibility of genuine decolonization (or de-neocolonization, if you will) – after centuries of the planet’s domination by a small fraction of the world’s population.

In short, the current government of China is the agent of the most stunning defeat of Euro-American colonialism that the world has seen to date. After all the Chinese are almost one-fifth of humanity. One would think that this fact would be part of the evaluation of Western progressives when they looked at the Hong Kong affair. With few exceptions it was not. And this is a big problem. The world is going through a major upheaval as colonialism and neo-colonialism are suffering major defeats.  That upheaval, that shift, is a lens through which Western “progressives” should look at the world. They rarely do. In failing to do so, they see the world through the ideological eyes of the West, that is, “the 1%“ at the top of the heap (or at least the 10%) if one may put it that way. China has achieved what the West hates most. It is relatively closed politically to the intrigues and machinations of the West – but economically open. This is the recipe for sovereignty and development.

The difference between the two views is the difference between looking at the world through a panoramic lens, with history in the background, and looking through a keyhole. In the latter case of tunnel vision one may only see a patch of grey through the keyhole, whereas a mighty elephant stands beyond the door.

Afterthoughts: Old China Hand. One “progressive,” and an “Old China Hand” to boot, even charged the minority on the Left with “neocolonialist” attitudes when they criticized him for siding with the NED in Hong Kong. He claimed that the dissidents in Hong Kong were too sophisticated, too “smart,” to be taken in by the NED, NID, U.S. Consulate officials and other detritus with whom they regularly consort.

But what about the cases where we now know that the CIA et al successfully deceived the population – sufficiently to overthrow an anticolonial government, as with Mossadegh or Arbenz or Allende? Does Old China Hand mean to say that the people of Iran or Guatemala or Chile were “stupid”? And is that not neocolonialist arrogance?  No, Old China Hand is defending tunnel vision, the view through the keyhole, not the people of Hong Kong. And if ever there were an unwitting agent of neocolonialism, it is sadly the likes of Old China Hand.

John V. Walsh can be reached at

January 18, 2015 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. King’s Legacy Isn’t Just a Dream. It’s Denouncing War, Poverty, and Injustice

By William Loren Katz |January 18, 2014

This year, Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 85-years-old. Since he embraced peace, practiced nonviolent resistance, and sought a loving society, for years the media has cast him as a sincere, avuncular, dreamy leader. This hardly comports with his essence or his fiercely tenacious battles—against war, racism and poverty—found in his writings, speeches, marches, and jail time.

King died because he was a radical thinker and activist whose movement challenged the powerful and made dangerous enemies. In 1964 when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called him “the most notorious liar in the country.” When he denounced the Vietnam War in 1967 the liberal New York Times and Washington Post roundly condemned him for questioning this part of America’s anti-communist crusade.

King’s views were far from popular. The year of his death public opinion polls showed 72 percent of whites and 55 percent of African Americans disapproved of his opposition to the war and his campaign to eradicate poverty.

The King to celebrate united as many people as he could behind his radical plan for a peaceful world . . . and fought like a tiger. At New York City’s Riverside Church a year before his death, King referred despairingly to the cost of American militarism and hopefully to revolutionary movements. He said Lyndon Johnson’s war in Asia had “eviscerated” the War on Poverty “like some demonic, destructive suction tube.”

“The madness of Vietnam is devastating the hopes of the poor at home” and will “totally poison America’s society,” said King. Urging withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam, King added that “I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.” He called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” and began to unite Americans across lines of race, class, nationalities, and religion for a Poor People’s March on Washington.

King’s bold stands increased the death threats while the FBI reduced his protection. While assisting striking Memphis garbage workers in April 1968 he was killed by a rifleman.

Soon after his death King was again targeted, this time by assassins in suits armed with laptops and enjoying media access. Their rewrite of the King story muted his strong voice and buried his radical proposals. And for the good reason—Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to today’s injustices. In 1968 the U.S. had military bases all around the world, and now it has more. A government that invaded and bombed Southeast Asia, now has military footprints on Middle East soil.

Would King have greeted recent the U.S. interventions in the Middle East as steps toward peace? Would he have looked away from “enhanced” interrogations the world defined as torture, endorsed U.S. threats of air strikes against Iran, approved a “war on terror” that terrorizes civilian populations, and justified occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan that never end? Would he have approved of U.S. drone strikes?

The King who told us the people of Vietnam “must see Americans as strange liberators,”—what would he tell us about U.S. foreign occupations today?

When he denounced war, poverty, and injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke for “the shirtless and barefooted people of the land.” Poor Americans and distant people “who languish under our bombs and consider us . . . the real enemy.” Is this voice not worth listening to today?

Get to know the real Dr. King. Listen to his 1967 speech at Riverside Church.

January 18, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Selma: A phenomenon in the midst of a resurgent movement

By ABAYOMI AZIKIWE | Press TV | January 18, 2015

Selma was distributed to a mainstream audience on January 9. The film has already been viewed by millions across the United States and the world.

During the Jan. 9-11 period of its opening, the Associated Press reported that “civil rights drama “Selma” moved from 22 to 2,179 theaters, arriving in second place at the weekend box office with $11.2 million. The film chronicles the historic 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and stars David Oyelowo as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.” (Jan. 11)

The film has generated a tremendous degree of interest in both mainstream and social media. Interviews with the actors, director and the actual historical figures such as Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson and Andrew Young have generated broader publicity outside the official industry sources.

Directed by Ava DuVernay, with talk show host and network owner, Oprah Winfrey, serving as the producer as well as playing a supporting role depicting Annie Lee Cooper, this is the first feature film made for movie theaters that attempts to depict a key chapter in the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. A made-for-television mini-series was done in 1978 featuring Paul Winfield as Rev. Dr. King and Cecily Tyson as Coretta Scott King.

Despite the success during the opening days of the film showings, the Golden Globe held on Jan. 11, awarded the movie only one of the four categories nominated. Songwriter and producer John Legend along with spoken-word artist and actor Common were given the top prize for the Best Original Song, entitled Glory, the main selection of the soundtrack.

Nonetheless, DuVernay remained optimistic going into the Golden Globe Awards ceremonies. She wrote over twitter on Jan. 11 that “We’ve already won. We made a film we believe in, and now it’s out in theaters and moving in the world!”

John Legend said of his experience in working on the soundtrack for Selma, “I was brought on at the last minute but I’m so honored to be part of this amazing film that honors such amazing people that did great work and is so connected to what’s happening right now. We still are in solidarity with those who are out there fighting for justice right now. We’re so grateful to write this song, hopefully as an inspiration to them.”

Controversy Over Historical Accuracy

Some of the most widely publicized disagreements over the film’s accuracy surround the role of the-then President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a former Senator from Texas and Vice-President under John F. Kennedy. The film suggests that Johnson, played by Tom Wilkinson, categorically opposed the Selma campaign and the introduction of Voting Rights legislation in 1965.

One of Johnson’s top advisers on domestic affairs, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., objected so strongly to the film’s portrayal of the president that he wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Washington Post on Dec. 26. Califano went as far as to suggest that the Selma Campaign was LBJ’s idea.

He asserted that “the film falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself. In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted — and he didn’t use the FBI to disparage him.”

What is striking about the Califano editorial is that it is full of historical inaccuracies itself. The piece gives wrong dates that contradict the facts of the period and the chronological order of events that have been well documented by participants and historians over the subsequent decades.

Andrew Young, a former aide to King and leading member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), said during several interviews that the actual situation was quite different but he was not offended by this aspect of the film. Young rejected outright the notion that the Selma Campaign that brought SCLC to Dallas County in Jan. 1965 was Johnson’s idea.

Young said that Johnson did not believe Voting Rights legislation could make it through the U.S. Congress only months after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was signed into law by him in July of that year.

Young noted that he had traveled with King to Norway when the Civil Rights leader was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Dec. 1964. After the delegation returned to the U.S., they stopped over in New York City for a reception and celebration. (Interview with Roland Martin, Jan. 5)

Later the group went to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with the Justice Department and it was only then that Johnson invited them to the White House one evening. However, the crisis created through the arrests, beatings in Selma during Jan. and Feb., followed by the police shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson in neighboring Marion, Alabama on the night of Feb. 18 prompted activists to organize a march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery.

Of course the first attempt resulted in the Alabama state police and local law-enforcement vicious attacks using clubs, cattle prods and teargas on 600 demonstrators at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday March 7, known as “Bloody Sunday.” The beating of the demonstrators prompted a national mobilization in cities throughout the country, many of whom traveled to Selma two days later for yet another confrontation with authorities.

Amid legal challenges over an injunction not to march to Montgomery on March 9, King and SCLC decided to turn 2,000 demonstrators around heading back to Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, the center of the Selma Campaign. This move caused confusion and debate within the movement, as some felt they should have refused to disperse again which could have sparked another beating by the police just two days later.

A favorable federal court ruling several days later saying that there was a constitutional right to march paved the way for Johnson to nationalize the Alabama National Guard which provided protection for demonstrators to initiate and complete the final march during March 21-25, 1965. Nevertheless, on March 9, Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian minister from Boston, who traveled to support the Selma Campaign based on a national appeal, was severely beaten by white racists in Selma and died of his injuries the following day.

Later, on the day the Selma to Montgomery March concluded, Mrs. Viola Liuizzo, portrayed in the film by Tara Ochs, who was a volunteer activist from Detroit, was murdered in her vehicle while transporting demonstrators through Lowndes County. It was later revealed that she was killed due to a conspiracy by the Ku Klux Klan.

It was during this period that Johnson came out in favor of new legislation that worked its way through Congress over the next five months.

Although it has historical inaccuracies and other problems, many feel that the film can play a progressive role in light of the resurgence of the anti-racist struggle since July-Aug. that has manifested through rebellions and mass demonstrations in response to the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in Staten Island and Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

The fact that these tremendous events unfolded five decades ago illustrates how far the struggle against national oppression has to go in this country. At the same time the developments over the last five months reveals the capacity of African Americans and their allies to create new methods of agitation aimed at the state and the corporate structures of the racist capitalist system.

January 18, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment