The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice Peace and Reparations (BIBC) held its annual national conference on April 9th, 2016 in the center of the African community of Harlem, NY.
The day-long conference held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, was themed, “The 2016 Elections and the Struggle for Self-determination.”
Speakers included the Black Is Back Coalition’s Chair, Omali Yeshitela, Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report (BAR), Zaki Baruti of the Universal African People’s Organization, Nellie Bailey of The Harlem Tenant’s Council, Aminifu Williams of the People’s Organization for Progress, and others.
At 10am, a stream of attendees began flowing into the venue which was decorated with Red, Black and Green flags and balloons.
Chairman Omali opened the conference with an introduction to the BIBC’s origins, purpose and “Principles of Unity.”
He explained that the Coalition is not against participation in the political process when there are candidates who represent the agenda of African people.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela
The BIBC endorsed Chokwe Lamumba as mayoral candidate in Jackson, MS, a city with a large African population. This is an example of how African people can use the electoral system to our advantage.
The Chairman went on to deliver a powerful analysis of the U.S. electoral politics where he broke down the crisis that imperialism is facing.
He explained how this crisis has manifested itself in this year’s election through the historically large number of candidates running for U.S. president.
He also outlined how each candidate represents a fraction of the ruling class fighting to secure power, “It’s every white man for himself.”
Glen Ford then gave his analysis on the 2016 elections by first addressing the arrangement of the duopoly (two party system) we see in U.S. politics.
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report
He stated that there has traditionally been a white man’s party and one that claims not to be. The two operate in balance of each other.
Glen gave the example of two stars orbiting around each other as an analogy for depublicans and democrats and how this balance has been disrupted.
He said, “Any crisis of the ruling class is good for the African working class.”
Analysis of the parties of the ruling class
Glen Ford continued by providing insight into the crisis facing the Republican and Democratic parties.
He spoke of how republicans feel betrayed by their party with the election of U.S. president Barack Obama. The rise of Donald Trump is evidence of this.
Ford explained that Trump has stripped away the illusion of politeness for republicans yet he has violated the taboo of the republican’s rationale on international relations and national security with talk of using nuclear weapons.
He went on to say that Bernie Sanders’ supporters are revolting against the corporate leadership in the Democratic party represented by Hillary Clinton.
Black Agenda Report’s Margaret Kimberley told her story as a former democratic voter. She called Bernie Sanders “today’s Obama.”
Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report
This was referring to his sudden rise among democrats. She condemned his use of the words “revolution” and “socialism.”
The conference moved quickly to the audience question and answer period.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela addressed the question of Africans boycotting Chinese businesses as a result of Peter Liang––a Chinese NYPD pig––murdering Akai Gurley in Brooklyn, NY.
The Chairman answered by saying he didn’t hold the Chinese people as a whole responsible for the stupidity of those who are in support of colonialism.
He gave the example of African people in the U.S. supporting Barack Obama despite the number of Africans he is responsible for killing.
Statements of solidarity from Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia and Union del Barrio were presented.
At 1:15pm, the conference broke for lunch. The attendees engaged in deep political discussions with members of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) and BIBC. Different attendees spoke amongst each other about the political summations presented thus far.
InPDUM President, Herdosia Bentum gives political education to attendees
A group of students from Queensborough Community College also received political education from the Chairman and InPDUM President, Herdosia Bentum
Many attendees visited the different vending tables––belonging to the BIBC, International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) and APSP––where they purchased t-shirts and hoodies, Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s books and The Burning Spear newspaper.
They also signed petitions and signed up to be members of these organizations.
The State of African people
The issues facing Africans in the U.S. were addressed by several speakers in the second half of the conference.
Brother Aminifu Williams from the People’s Organization for Progress spoke briefly on his experiences growing up in the segregated south and gave his account of the struggle against killer pigs in New Jersey.
Brother Aminifu related his fox hunting experiences as a youth to the characteristics of the republicans and democrats.
He stated that the fox and the wolf are like the democrats and republicans, as the fox is sneaky and the wolf is straightforward but both are dangerous.
Next, Nellie Bailey, director of the Harlem Tenants Council, spoke on the gentrification of African neighborhoods in New York City.
She outlined that the cost of housing has increased dramatically in places like Harlem and Brooklyn as a plan to push out African population and make room for white people.
Nellie spoke on what she called “disaster capitalism” and how the sub-prime mortgage system has been replaced with an exploitive rental system.
She said, “We are not paranoid. This is real.”
Lisa Davis, who is Vice-Chair of the Coalition and Chair of its Healthcare Working Group talked about advocacy for Africans in the hospitals.
She spoke of the struggle to save African lives from killer healthcare institutions and the history of African people as healers.
Revolution in action
Jorden Giger gave a report via PowerPoint presentation on the work of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
He spoke on the Africans Charge Genocide campaign and the U.N. encampment tour that took place in January 2016 and outlined the demands of the the Africans Charge Genocide campaign.
A video presentation which showed Kamm Howard of the National Coalition of Black for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) reporting on the organization’s work for reparations was made.
Diop Olugbala of The Black Hammer and Chair of the BIBC’s Black Community Control of the Police (BCCOP) Working Group gave us insight into what the concept truly means with his PowerPoint presentation.
He described BCCOP as the power for the African working class to control who is hired, trained and fired with regard to the police in African communities.
Diop stated that the root of Africans’ problem in the U.S. is our lack of power and that the pigs are the only thing keeping us from taking it.
The conference kept a passionate momentum even as it came to a close.
Ralph Poynter, Chair of the Coalition’s Political Prisoner’s working group, urged the audience to continue to support the African political prisoners suffering in prison camps.
He said, “We need the masses of the working class to be the cheerleaders.”
He gave inspiration to the audience by informing them that those who have served time as political prisoners and are now free are ready to fight and do it all over again.
Chairman Omali wrapped the conference up by giving a passionate account of his removal of the racist mural that hung on the wall of the City Hall in St. Petersburg, FL.
He informed the audience of the city’s plans to replace the mural with one that shows improvements in the treatment of African people there.
The Chairman explained that this is an attempt to cover-up history as African people are worse off in St. Pete today than they were in 1966, when the he tore the mural down.
The African People’s Socialist Party put a call out for an African artist to design the new mural as the city is offering a $10,000 reward for the best design.
The conference was a success, not because of the 180 people who attended, but because real work is being done which caused participants to leave the event with a better understanding of today’s political climate from the African revolutionary perspective, some as new members to our organizations.
One thing is clear. It is only through self-determination that African people will break the chains of imperialism.
Black Is Back!
Black Power Matters!
Uhuru in this lifetime!
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