Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin
From Black Protest To Insurrection
An Autonomous — Anti-authoritarian View
We are coming upon the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, and there are some things which have a direct bearing on the present moment. We need to know that back then there had been two wings of the civil rights movement, that which emanated from the 1955–57 Montgomery Bus Boycott, which produced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national leader and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In the period of 1960–1963, the youth-based Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had taken the early initiative away from King and SCLC, and were the ones who had called for and organized the 1963 March on Washington originally.
They envisioned a much more militant anti-government protest movement, which was coming for a long-term occupation, and to disrupt the city of Washington, D.C. to accuse the federal government of protecting the racist South, and upholding poverty and oppression. They even planned to get out on the runways of airports and prevent planes from landing at the airport, stop trains, and clogs highways, and other thoroughfares.
Malcolm X spoke approvingly of the original protest plans, as an advance past Dr. M.L. King’s pacifism. However, the Kennedy Administration was able to maneuver and subvert the autonomous leadership, installing the old civil rights leadership, which was more conservative and willing to take orders directly from the government. They had been bought off by corporate and government grant money and they killed any militancy of the event at all. In fact, took it from a protest to a “celebration” of the collusion between the Kennedy Administration and those sellout leaders, claiming “victory now”.
So, this tells us what is happening now with the Trayvon Martin protest movement, it has been usurped by Al Sharpton and more conservative elements. Those who want to shut down the system and protest in the streets, are usurped by those moderate and conservative elements emphasizing “peace”, “calm”, and “obeying the law”. They are saying that “we should wait on Obama” to make up his mind as to whether he will prosecute Zimmerman, Trayvon’s murderer. Listen, everyday, the feds prosecute cases that began in state courts; certainly they do it in drug cases against young Black men and teens. If he wants to do so, it should not be some extraordinary thing, but he is afraid of the right-wing fascists, and his corporate bosses have not given him the say-so yet. He must stay in his place and so what Wall Street tells him too.
This is why whatever protest there is in this period has to lead us to insurrection, long term resistance, known internationally as an “Intifada”. It must maintain today’s protest militancy as a stage of struggle, but escalate, first turn it into a month of resistance, and then into many months, even years of resistance, expanding our understanding every step of the way that we are actually fighting the government itself (and its corporate masters), which has sanctioned white supremacy, police terror, and vigilante violence as *some of their tools of counter-insurgency.
We are fighting fascism, and must not be neutralized or misled, just as Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the original Black Panther Party told us 59 years ago. They want to kill off Black surplus labor, homeless, and all those elements they consider as social vermin in their emerging corporate police state. The death of Trayvon Martin, and all those nameless Black/POC youth, must be united in the minds of the people, because they expose the empire’s attack on the poor and low income workers.
We must have the maturity to build a United Front Against Racism and Police Brutality in this period, led by the poor, Black/POC, unemployed and low income workers.