Remember to remember Elombe Brath and General Baker Jr.

 
TORONTO, ON—At the time of this writing, NOT A WORD ABOUT ELOMBE BRATH’S passing has appeared in the New York Times.
 
I guess Comrade Elombe’s life wasn’t part of “all the news that’s fit to print.”
 
Amy Goodman, who Brath worked with at WBAI-FM 99.5, has not said a word about him either. Goodman did acknowledge the passing of General Gordon Baker Jr. the legendary labor leader from Detroit on Democracy Now.
 
I knew both Brath and Baker. In fact, it was Baker who turned me on to Brath’s comic book “Color Them Colored” that mocked everyone from Malcolm X to Harry Belafonte.
 
Baker was one of my major mentors. Gen and his family welcomed me and many others to his home in Highland Park. He welcomed me like a long, lost family member.
 
I was fascinated by the stories he told about his two-and-a-half month visit to Cuba in 1964. His reminiscences of playing baseball with Fidel Castro and meeting Che Guevara and Robert Franklin Williams in Havana blew my 21-year-old mind.
 
I will never forget meeting Rob (Williams) in Gen’s home when he returned from exile in the People’s Republic of China in September 1969.
 
While Gen was one of the hardest working human beings I ever met, I remember him loving Sonny Rollins’ “I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande).”
 
I had the pleasure of “slippin’ into darkness” with Gen when he was hounded by the State. I also had the pleasure of traveling to Africa with Gen, Mirian Kramer (his wife) and others in 1994.
 
We were delegates to the Seventh Pan African Congress in Kampala, Uganda.
 
Gen was reunited with Abdulrahman Mohamed Babu of Tanzania. I never will forget Gen telling me that they (Charles Simmons and Luke Tripp) taught Babu how to do the “Monkey” in Cuba in 1964.
 
For whatever reason, the Detroit Free Press did not ignore Baker. While the Times and Goodman said nothing about Brath, the New York Daily News did run a story entitled “Harlem mourns death of Elombe Brath, lifelong warrior in battle for pan-African empowerment”.
 
The story said this about Brath: “‘Tireless and genuine fighter,’ Brath, who was 77, fought apartheid as the founder of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition, fought to end the use of the term ‘negro’, advocated on behalf of the Central Park 5, and co-founded African Jazz-Arts Society & Studios.”
 
Brath visited Toronto and Montreal many times and had deep links with the Caribbean community.
 
According to the New York Daily News, he was a cousin of “Clenell Wickham who waged a political battle on behalf of working class blacks in colonial Barbados as an editor of The Herald, a Barbadian newspaper.”
 
Wickham along with Marcus Mosiah Garvey and Carlos Cooks were his major influences. The Jamaican-born Garvey created the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities (Imperial) League (UNIA-ACL).
 
Cooks was born in the Dominican Republic, and he administered the Advance Division of the UNIA after Garvey was deported. He founded the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement which Brath joined as a youth.
 
He spoke at meetings organized by the Toronto-based Biko-Rodney-Malcolm-Coalition (BRMC) and later came to speak at a session with the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party’s (A-ARPP) Toronto chapter.
A coalition including Toronto’s BRMC, the Albany, New York Capital District Coalition against Apartheid and Racism and the New York City and Los Angeles Chapters of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition formed an alliance to promote the cultural boycott of South Africa.
 
The alliance of these three groups began in 1984 at the United Nations meeting called The North American Regional Conference against Apartheid, organized by the Special Committee against Apartheid.
 
Vera Michelson, Elombe Brath, Ron Wilkins and I put this alliance together during this UN meeting.
 
Brath helped me get invited to that conference. He introduced me to Samori Marksman, journalist, historian, political activist, professor and Program Director of radio station WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City.
 
I in turn introduced him to Milton Blake who produced and hosted the Musical Triangle on CKLN-FM 88.1. We all worked together for Africa, Africans and all oppressed people.
 
Brath was a frequent guest on Saturday Morning Live, Diasporic Music and CIUT-FM 89.5′s The African Woman and Family.
 
I completely agree with Brath’s son Cinque Brath who pointed out, “He lived his life doing what he loved. He wanted global fairness for people around the world.”
 
Norman (Otis) Richmond, aka Jalali, was born in Arcadia, Louisiana, and grew up in Los Angeles. He left Los Angles after refusing to fight in Vietnam because he felt that, like the Vietnamese, Africans in the United States were colonial subjects.
 
Richmond is currently working as a producer/host of Saturday Morning Live on Radio Regent (radioregent.com.) He can also be heard on Diasporic Music on Uhuru Radio (uhururadio.com)
 
His column Diasporic Music appears monthly in The Burning Spear newspaper.
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