Mission: To make the Congo the pride of Africa
Lumumba’s tenure in office started with a moving speech that reminded the Congolese who they were and indeed even now, every black man is better for reading it. This was a man with an unprecedented consciousness of who he was and though he forgave, he did not forget. In his Independence Day speech, he rhetorically posed the question, “Who will ever forget the shootings which killed so many of our brothers, or the cells into which were mercilessly thrown those who no longer wished to submit to the regime of injustice, oppression and exploitation used by the colonialists as a tool of their domination?” He added, “All that, my brothers, brought us untold suffering.”
His goal was to lead his country to “peace, prosperity, and greatness”. The whole vision was encapsulated in the words, “We shall show the world what the black man can do when working in liberty, and we shall make the Congo the pride of Africa.” His ideas went as far as encouraging freedom of speech, eradicating discrimination and going past the armed struggle to “peace resting on concord and goodwill”.
However, the West was not about to let him have his way. What Lumumba stood for were futuristic democratic values even Western nations had not fully mastered. He was too intelligent, too conscious and too African.
To read more Click or Copy link below:
You Might also like
It came out in 1968—yet little has changed since the Kerner Commission denounced “white racism.”
In July 1967, when President Lyndon B. Johnson formed a commission to analyze the riots then engulfing several major American cities, the radical wing of the civil-rights movement eyed his appointees with grave skepticism. Not only did the 11-person commission abound with the most conventional of politicians—including its chairman, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner—but a mere two of them were black. Racial militants might have tolerated that paltry number of seats had they been occupied by firebrands such as Stokely Carmichael, who popularized the term black power, or H. Rap Brown, who routinely railed against “the honkies.” These brazen embodiments of the new generation of civil-rights activism would have reliably conveyed the concerns and frustrations of black youth—a presumably vital task for the commission, given that most rioters ranged from 15 to 24 years old.
Instead of black insurgents, however, Johnson tapped the longtime NAACP doyen Roy Wilkins and Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, two men broadly regarded as more acquainted with executive suites than with edgy streets. Detractors viewed Wilkins as so fearful of bucking the Johnson administration that they branded him “Roy Weak-knees.” Although Brooke had recently become the first black person popularly elected to the Senate, national media observed that his time as state attorney general and his personal attributes hardly endeared him to black radicals, who stopped just shy of labeling him an Uncle Tom. “Because of his pale skin, his Episcopalian faith, his reserved New England manner,” Time magazine noted, Brooke “is looked upon as what might be described as a ‘NASP’—the Negro equivalent of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.” Both Wilkins and Brooke, moreover, had sharply repudiated the nascent black-power movement, going so far as to equate it with white supremacy. Whereas Brooke called Carmichael and the arch-segregationist Lester Maddox “extremists of black power and white power,” Wilkins termed Carmichael’s ethos “a reverse Mississippi, a reverse Hitler, a reverse Ku Klux Klan.”
With these pillars of the establishment speaking on behalf of African Americans, black-power advocates were convinced that the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders—as the body was officially named—would sanitize America’s ugly racial realities. A few months before the commission’s findings appeared in a document typically called the Kerner Report, the journalist Elizabeth Drew confirmed in these pages that “the word has gone out among the militant Negroes that the commission is a fink operation … and is not to be cooperated with.” She added: “No one here is betting … that the commission’s product will differ radically from one that [LBJ] wants.”
Surprisingly, when the Kerner Report surfaced, in February 1968, black-power supporters felt cheered, and President Johnson was chagrined. H. Rap Brown, who was in a Louisiana jail cell for inciting a crowd, released an exultant statement: “The members of the commission should be put in jail under $100,000 bail each because they’re saying essentially what I’ve been saying.” For his part, an infuriated LBJ canceled the White House ceremony where he had been scheduled to accept a bound copy of the report, avoided public commentary on the eagerly anticipated document, and refused to sign customary letters recognizing the commissioners for their service. But Johnson’s effort to ignore the report failed utterly. The Kerner Report became an instant publishing phenomenon; Bantam sold almost 1 million paperbacks in the first two weeks. Public appetite ran so strong that Marlon Brando read aloud excerpts of the volume on a late-night television talk show.
Fifty years have now elapsed since the Kerner Report appeared, but even in our current age of woke-ness, the document stands out for its unvarnished, unflinching identification of “white racism” as the fundamental cause of urban unrest. Works written by committees (especially government committees) have a well-deserved reputation for inducing somnolence, but the Kerner Report somehow managed to frame its indictment of racial oppression in several stirring formulations that have endured. “What white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto,” the commission stated. “White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” The report warned, in perhaps its most celebrated passage: “Our Nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”
Some aspects of the report may resonate even more loudly today than they did in the late 1960s. For example, the commission’s repeated emphasis on the role of police brutality in alienating black citizens and sowing the seeds of urban discontent now assumes added significance, given the many images of unarmed black men whose deaths at the hands of the state have been seared into the national psyche. Indeed, some of the report’s assessments could—eerily and depressingly—have been written yesterday to describe America’s recent racial disturbances, in locales ranging from Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore, Maryland: “Almost invariably the incident that ignites disorder arises from police action.” Apart from its sharply phrased critique of the riots’ origins, the report promoted an ambitious policy agenda, including major measures in the domains of education, employment, housing, and welfare.
How did a government document that black radicals anticipated would be a whitewash end up instead denouncing “white racism”? This improbable turn of events animates Steven M. Gillon’s deft, incisive, and altogether absorbing history of the Kerner Commission, which he convincingly depicts as “the last gasp of 1960s liberalism—the last full-throated declaration that the federal government should play a leading role in solving deeply embedded problems such as racism and poverty.”
The puzzle of the commission’s severe assessment of the conditions plaguing urban America only intensifies when one considers that Johnson held leverage over its chairman. It was widely understood that the Illinois governor hoped LBJ would nominate him to a federal judgeship. But Gillon, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma, makes clear that Kerner served merely as a figurehead. The commission’s executive director, David Ginsburg—a fixture of liberal legal circles since the New Deal—shaped the report’s general approach, tenor, and language more than any official commissioner did, helping forge a fragile consensus among its members. Yet identifying the report’s central force also fails to explain its bracing conclusions. After all, LBJ chose Ginsburg for the important, if under-the-radar, senior staff position precisely because he was a Johnson loyalist, one who, as Elizabeth Drew put it, enjoyed a reputation as “the insider’s insider.”
LBJ was far from inexperienced in the ways of blue-ribbon panels. During his five years in the Oval Office, he appointed a staggering 20 commissions. This prolific rate prompted at least one source to confer on Johnson the dubious nickname “the Great Commissioner.” (One suspects that Abraham Lincoln would not have been tempted to swap appellations.)
With LBJ’s hand-selected personnel at the helm of a well-oiled apparatus, the question remains: Why did the Kerner Report assume its pungent tone and advance bold proposals rather than simply blessing the Great Society programs in anodyne language? Three primary reasons emerge from Gillon’s meticulous re-creation of the proceedings.
First, the commissioners’ visits to riot-torn cities around the country proved galvanizing. Some members had a vague understanding of life in ghettos, but the conditions they witnessed firsthand were far more dire than anything they had imagined. Unemployment was pervasive, schools had insufficient funds and virtually no white students, and neighborhoods lacked access to adequate sanitation. More sobering still was the profound sense of disillusionment and anger that the commissioners encountered.
In Detroit, Michigan, and in Newark, New Jersey, where the two deadliest disturbances of 1967 occurred, many rioters declared that they would not fight for the United States, even in a major war. During one particularly unnerving field visit, in Cincinnati, Ohio, a young Presbyterian minister who held a degree from Columbia University calmly informed the commission that the recent spate of violence represented “just the beginning.”
Look, man, we’re hip to you white people. We know … it’s no good trying to appeal to your morals; you’ve shown you don’t have any morals. The only thing you believe in is your property—that’s what this country is all about, baby—so we are going to burn it down.
Second, such provocative encounters convinced the commission that only tough language would reach its dual intended audiences. For white Americans, the commissioners concluded that firm rhetoric was necessary to jolt them out of their collective slumber about the nation’s inner cities. Shortly before the report appeared, one member—Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma—explained: “I believe that white people in America are decent people [and that] if they can be shown the terrible conditions in which other Americans live and how this threatens our society, they will join together to try to solve these problems.”
For black Americans, by contrast, tough rhetoric was required to prevent the black-power movement from gaining more adherents. The report expressly condemned black-power advocates for retreating from the integrationist vision and dismissed the self-styled revolutionaries as mere Booker T. Washingtons with attitudes. But for those criticisms to seem credible, the report also needed to contain language excoriating the nation’s racist past and present.
Finally, the Kerner Report was shaped by a desire to avoid the hostile receptions that had greeted two recent governmental tracts. Following the Watts riots in 1965, a California report explained the violence by invoking what came to be known as “the riffraff theory,” the notion that a group of perpetual misfits (many of whom had migrated from the South) had plotted the unrest. Scholars immediately assailed this view, and the commission’s own profile of the typical rioter in 1967 belied the stereotype: Generally, rioters were educated, lifelong residents of their city who—crucially—had at least seen or suffered police brutality. Also in 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report chronicling the increase in single motherhood in black families, with its emphasis on cultural and psychological factors, drew fierce criticism for “blaming the victim.” These cautionary tales primed the Kerner Commission to focus on structural obstacles confronting black communities, rather than on the supposed personal failings of the rioters.
Half a century later, the nation’s racial demographics have upended the black–white paradigm that prevailed in 1968; no serious analysis of race could now disregard that increased diversity. Even more distant from the current national climate, however, is the commission’s repeated insistence that the fate of inner-city African Americans stands inextricably connected to that of their fellow citizens. To take just one example, the report stated:
This Nation is confronted with the issue of justice for all its people—white as well as black, rural as well as urban … In speaking of the Negro, we do not speak of “them.” We speak of us—for the freedoms and opportunities of all Americans are diminished and imperiled when they are denied to some Americans.
Though such sentiments in 1968 may have been more aspirational than actual, the collective perspective now sounds lamentably alien.
Yet the continuities between the Kerner Commission era and contemporary realities seem even more pronounced than the ruptures. In the political realm, a direct line connects Richard Nixon’s successful campaign for the White House in 1968 to our most recent presidential election. Nixon disparaged the Kerner Commission’s findings as too permissive, playing up his promise to restore “law and order” in America. “I am the law-and-order candidate,” Donald Trump pledged to a crowd in Virginia Beach in July 2016, and since assuming office he has practiced a singularly divisive brand of politics, seldom missing a chance to pit “them” against “us.” Furthermore, while many African Americans have made momentous strides in the past five decades, cities still contain destitute neighborhoods filled with racial minorities, which—as in the late 1960s—serve as breeding grounds for despair and alienation. The Fair Housing Act of 1968—the only major tangible legislative achievement traceable to the Kerner Report—has failed to address those grim pockets of isolation.
When LBJ spoke briefly to the commissioners at the start of their undertaking, he tasked them with answering three basic questions about the recent unrest: “What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again and again?” On the Kerner Report’s 50th anniversary, the stubborn persistence of racial ghettos gives rise to another, deeply disconcerting query:Post Views: 59
Toveet Radcliffe Was the First African-American Woman to Die in the Israeli Military; Her Death Was Ruled a Suicide But Her Family Isn’t Buying It
In America, we’ve become painfully used to the idea that to the police, the Jeff Sessions-led justice Department and, in many cases, the military, black lives don’t matter. Donald Trump’s handling of the death of Army Sgt. LaDavid Johnson; the White House’s silence on the killing of Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III by a white supremacist; the deafening silence about racism at the U.S. Air Force Academy, are just a few examples in the last year.
It is often worse for black women in the armed forces, who are victims of racial and sexual violence. Consider the case of LaVena Johnson, who, at 19 years old, was found dead of a gunshot wound in a tent in Balad, Iraq. Yet despite her body being found with a broken nose, a black eye, loose teeth and corrosive chemicals found on her genitals, the Army determined her death was a suicide. Where else in the world are black women’s bodies, even when dedicated to the protection of a nation, so degraded or devalued? Apparently, the Israeli government isn’t far behind America.
Feb. 21 will mark the three-year anniversary of 19-year-old Corporal Toveet Radcliffe’s death, the first African-American woman to die in the Israeli Defense Forces. Radcliffe was found dead at Palmachim Airbase just south of Tel Aviv, Israel, from a gunshot wound to the head. In early February, the IDF ruled that Radcliffe’s case will not be reopened. Investigators ruled that the gunshot that went through her forehead and came out the back was a result of an accidental or intentional suicide. However, Radcliffe’s family and members of the African Hebrew Israelite community aren’t so sure.
Toveet Radcliffe was born in Israel, to African-American parents who moved to there to practice as Hebrew Israelites, an Afrocentric form of Old Testament Judaism. She grew up happy and popular in the southern Israeli city of Dimona, where about 10 percent of the population are Hebrew Israelites, and she was known for her beauty and gregarious personality.
Despite being born in Israel, Radcliffe was not a practicing Hebrew Israelite nor was she an Israeli citizen. In fact, Hebrew Israelites are not automatically granted Israeli citizenship; the Israeli government had tried to kick them out of the country for years (part of a larger problem of the Israeli government discrimination against African and African-American Jews) until eventually granting them a tenuous residency status. Hebrew Israelites often live as second-class citizens, denied public education and state health care because their practice of Judaism isn’t “orthodox.”
Nevertheless, children can earn citizenship for themselves and their families can become eligible to apply for full citizenship after serving a tour in the armed forces. Radcliffe joined the military in October 2013 and died less than a year into her service—not from terrorists or criminals but from a bullet wound to the head while sitting in a guard booth.
She was found just after midnight, bleeding from a head wound, by the soldier that was to replace her on duty; she was declared dead by a military doctor less than half an hour later.
After almost three years of legal wrangling, Judge Major Meir Vigiser ruled it was “highly likely” that no other person was with Radcliffe when she was shot. Vigiser rejected several experts presented by the Radcliffe family suggesting foul play, instead placing the young woman’s death in her own hands.
About 30 members of the Hebrew Israelite community, all wearing white, sat in the courtroom for over an hour, listening as Judge Vigiser’s ruling. Radcliffe’s mother, Khydijah Gray, refused to attend the final hearing because she doubted that justice would come. While the verdict clearly disappointed the Radcliffe family and its supporters, it did not shock them.
“I am absolutely not surprised. I would have been surprised if they had done the right thing,” Shayarah Baht Yisrael said to The Root.
“I think the whole investigation was flawed from the beginning. And that alone is jail time, as far as I’m concerned. The fact that they tried to sweep it under the rug so quickly, I’m very, very frustrated by that,” added Ketreyah Fouch.
As supporters from the community trailed out of the Bar Lev Base, one young woman told The Root: “Toveet was too good to serve in the Israeli army, in general. Like all of us, we’re just too good to serve in this army.”
Hours after attending the court session, African Hebrew activist Ashriel Ben-Israel uploaded a video to Facebook calling the verdict “a big embarrassment”: “We do not accept it, this decision! We no longer believe any army representative regarding this case,” Ben-Israel bellowed in Hebrew, overcome with emotion. “We will not allow this decision to pass in silence,” he added.
Discrepancies in the IDF’s account of her death disturbed Radcliffe’s family and friends from the start. On January 18, 2016, nearly a year after the fatal incident, the IDF published the results of its internal investigation into Radliffe’s death—essentially suicide. At the most basic level, it is hard to believe that 5-foot, 2-inch Toveet Radcliffe managed to shoot herself through the forehead with an M4 (demonstrated below with a paper replica by her sister).
Given that the Israeli government offered to pay the Radcliffe family a lifelong stipend (for a solider who committed suicide), the questionable investigation (significant physical evidence was never examined), and the dismissal of key witnesses and testimony, Radcliffe’s family sought the truth. The Hebrew Israelite community raised funds for a legal appeal that bore fruit a year later. On March 17, 2017, the president of the IDF Court of Appeals, Major Gen. Doron Feiles, ordered a reinvestigation of Radcliffe’s death. In his decision, Feiles conceded that the IDF had not definitively demonstrated that Radcliffe had committed suicide and had not even bothered to seriously consider any other possible explanation for her death.
“It could be that the IDF felt that Toveet’s life wasn’t of value on the scale of social importance. Maybe in its opinion, she was just a girl from a black community in Dimona, just some unimportant girl,” the community leadership said the day after the Vigiser verdict in a press release. “Taking into account the apathy, arrogance and total lack of transparency on the part of the IDF, it must be seen as suspect No. 1.”
Radcliffe’s case had become a national story in Israel over the last few year; it was featured in several CSI/First-48 style TV investigative shows. Yet despite the historic nature of a black girl with African-American parents dying mysteriously in the IDF, it received little or no coverage in the United States. No major news stories, no #SayHerName hashtags. A Change.org petition to President Barack Obama in 2016 on her behalf couldn’t muster 1,000 signatures.
With the case officially over, members of the Hebrew Israelite community vow that they will continue the fight even if it’s unclear how that will occur. The Israeli government can delay, deny or possibly void the citizenship of community members who push back too hard. Furthermore, with little or no international attention or pressure, ala #BringBackOurGirls, there’s no reason to believe the conservative Benjamin Netanyahu government would even care. That doesn’t mean her case doesn’t matter, it only means that if black lives truly matter across the globe, we must add Toveet Radcliffe’s name to the sadly growing list of black people betrayed, abandoned and possibly killed by their governments.Post Views: 76