The concept of Négritude is a defining milestone in the rehabilitation of Africa and African diasporic identity and dignity. It is a driving inspiration behind the current flowering of literature by black Francophone writers. Alongside other Pan-African movements such as the Harlem Renaissance, Garveyism, and Negrismo, Négritude has contributed to writing Africa and its achievements back into history, as well as fostering solidarity among Africans and people of African descent.
In many cases, the local police forces simply assassinated the most promising young Black Panther leaders, such as Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago in a predawn raid, killing them as they slept. Panther headquarters from Los Angeles to Des Moines to Philadelphia were assaulted by the police forces. In Philadelphia, scores of Panthers were stripped naked and paraded through the streets at gunpoint. Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and imprisoned for murder in Philadelphia; similarly, Assata Shakur was shot and imprisoned in New Jersey by the state police. In Guyana, Professor Walter Rodney was blown up with a car bomb. Those were well-planned, awesome, and irreparable setbacks. In response, many groups became even more brittle in their political doctrines at a moment when political and tactical maneuvering was required to sustain the movement.
At the May 1974 African Liberation Day debate in Washington, D.C., the remaining radical leaders sought a new direction for the struggle: Which Way Black Liberation? Instead of finding consensus, they divided into two hostile camps professing their faith under the banners of Black Nationalism and Marxism-Leninism. In turn, those hostile camps took the poisonous debate into the long-awaited Sixth Pan-African Congress in Tanzania, where the political camps further divided, adding another level of complicated division—one between the African states and the nonstate liberation movements.
Black Studies programs crumbled during “ideological debates.” The editors of the Black Scholar journal split in two camps. The Black World journal was yet another casualty. Political organizations fell apart overnight, and the movement unraveled. The officers of the African Liberation Support Committee abandoned its national headquarters without notice, leaving the regional and local branches in chaos. The National Black Political Assembly, a rich outgrowth of the Gary Convention, turned into two or three warring camps and flew apart. In short, key Black Power movement leaders forfeited leadership, while others were helpless to stop the collapse.
In San Francisco was the aforementioned Black Arts West.
Nonetheless, strong winds of change in the black world were also edging the movement to the Left. The Portuguese colonial empire in Africa crumbled under the dual pressures of African liberation movements, on the one hand, and the 1974 Portuguese Revolution, on the other. Sadly, a number of American radicals saw that revolutionary development, coupled with the defeat of America in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, as a signal that revolution was possible immediately in the United States as well. That was a gross, immature, and lethal miscalculation, the illusion that “revolution was just around the corner.” Furthermore, in their divisive attempts to form a Russian-style revolutionary party, a number of the Black Power groups paralyzed or unraveled key national organizations that controlled vital links in a national political and communications infrastructure.
[tags: Black Power Movement Essays]
In contrast to the RNA, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers developed into perhaps the most influential black Marxist organization. The league was the culmination of several black revolutionary union insurgencies, particularly in the auto industry, for instance, the Ford Revolutionary Union Movement (FRUM) and the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM). In the 1970s some of the more radical members of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers founded a Marxist-Leninist organization, the Black Workers Congress (BWC), declaring that African Americans were an oppressed nation in the Black Belt South and demanding the right of self-determination. Thus, in the aftermath of the urban uprisings a new generation of Black Power organizations developed a radical leadership, demanding black self-determination and generating four principal political styles: Marxism, revolutionary nationalism, territorial nationalism, and cultural nationalism.
Neither the Black Arts nor the Black Power movements ever recovered.
Step by step the Black Power Conferences grew stronger in numbers and in political development. The Black Power Conferences began as a small affair called together by Harlem Representative Adam Clayton Powell, a veteran of the Harlem Job Boycotts of the 1940s. When the youthful Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown called for Black Power, Congressman Powell tried to define it politically; he convened a Black Power Conference in Washington, D.C., alongside his congressional aide Chuck Stone as well as the youthful militant Maulana Karenga of the Los Angeles US Organization. The second conference was a mass summit meeting held in the aftermath of one of the worst black uprisings in American history, the July 1967 Newark uprising.