Last year, after the presidential election had been confirmed, we here at CREAD crafted our “We gon be alright,” educator as activist stay woke plan for demolishing white supremacy, patriarchy, and institutional racism in the pursuit for freedom and liberation for Diasporic people.
It’s still a mouthful.
The 3rd tenet of our plan centers on community:
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the necessity of community in order for true liberation to happen and every time I begin to do some level of research about the causes of our current condition, I am always faced with the realization that back in the day, we were all about building communities, coalitions, and movements.
Prior to integration, Black people understood that the only people coming to save us, were ourselves. After integration, after losing control of our schools, our churches, and our businesses, we became totally and fully dependent on the same group of people who spent centuries enslaving us.
Now, the hardest thing for Diasporic people to do, is to build community. And I’d argue that the most resistant group of people to build a true community are Diasporic educators.
Getting a group of Black educators to physically show up to a physical location and join forces in order to work towards the liberation of Black folks…without receiving per session for it or even worse, if they have to pay…oh my…this is probably one of the biggest challenges facing CREAD as we plan out our Professional Development and Networking calendar for the upcoming school year.
And we’re going to meet the challenge head on, because we are inspired by what our foremothers and forefathers have done in the name of Black liberation.
112 years ago on this date, W.E.B. Dubois and William Monroe Trotter formed the Niagara Movement. The movement was formed by 29 Black business owners, teachers and clergy. At this first meeting, the group drafted “Declaration of Principles” and used this as the basis for all the work they would do.
Unfortunately, these principles, which were laid out over a century ago, read like they could be apart of the Black Lives Matter platform of today. W.E.B. Dubois voiced the principals at the first meeting, which happened on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because no hotel owners on the U.S. would house negroes.
July 11th, 1905:
[W]e believe that this class of American citizens should protest emphatically and continually against the curtailment of their political rights. We still marching and protesting.
We believe also in protest against the curtailment of our civil rights. All American citizens have the right to equal treatment according to their behavior and deserts. We still begging the injustice system to treat us with fairness.
We especially complain against the denial of equal opportunities to us in economic life. We still asking for jobs.
Common school education should be free to all American children and compulsory. We need to be very clear about what kind of compulsory education we desire.
We demand upright judges in courts, juries selected without discrimination on account of color and the same measure of punishment and the same efforts at reformation for Black as for White offenders. Ummmmm. Yeah.
We plead for health – for an opportunity to live in decent houses and localities, for a chance to rear our children in physical and moral cleanliness. Sooooo, let’s check this box off.
We hold up for public execration the conduct of two opposite classes of men: The practice among employers of importing ignorant Negro-American laborers in emergencies, and then affording them neither protection nor permanent employment; and the practice of labor unions in proscribing and boycotting and oppressing thousands of their fellow-toilers, simply because they are Black. America began importing Mexican Day laborers to do the work that Whites nor Blacks would do because of the paltry pay. And now Republicans are in full union busting mode.
We refuse to allow the impression to remain that the Negro-American assents to inferiority, is submissive under oppression and apologetic before insults. I would argue that the middle class and highly educated negroes actually embrace this ideology.
Any discrimination based simply on race or color is barbarous, we care not how hallowed it be by custom, expediency, or prejudice. I wish this was our starting point.
We protest against the “Jim Crow” car, since the effect is and must be to make us pay first-class fare for third-class accommodations, render us open to insults and discomfort and to crucify wantonly our manhood, womanhood and self-respect. Can anyone say the Police Departments across America. Our taxes pay their salaries right?
We regret that this nation has never seen fit adequately to reward the Black soldiers who, in its five wars, have defended their country with their blood, and yet have been systematically denied the promotions which their abilities deserve. How do we treat our soldiers, who fight for this flag?
We urge upon Congress the enactment of appropriate legislation for securing the proper enforcement of those articles of freedom, the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments of the Constitution of the United States. Didn’t Trump’s administration just ask each State to hand in the Voting Information for every voter on their rolls?
We repudiate the monstrous doctrine that the oppressor should be the sole authority as to the rights of the oppressed. All Lives Matter.
Of the above grievances we do not hesitate to complain, and to complain loudly and insistently. To ignore, overlook, or apologize for these wrongs is to prove ourselves unworthy of freedom. Persistent, manly agitation is the way to liberty, and toward this goal the Niagara Movement has started and asks the co-operation of all men of all races. Slavery ended 400 years ago, why are we still talking about it?
And while we are demanding, and ought to demand and will continue to demand the rights enumerated above, God forbid that we should ever forget to urge corresponding duties upon our people:
The duty to vote. Local elections have the lowest turnout.
The duty to respect the rights of others. Huh?
The duty to work. What’s the graduation rate?
The duty to obey the laws. For who?
The duty to be clean and orderly. Huh?
The duty to send our children to school. Missing an adjective. Possibly: Good.
The duty to respect ourselves, even as we respect others. Let’s define respect.
This statement, complaint and prayer we submit to the American people, and Almighty God.
So, 112 years ago this small group of Black people thought it important enough to come together and list out their principles and then commit themselves to acting in service of those principles.
61 years after that initial Niagara Movement conference, Black people yet again, came together and released a ten point plan for the liberation of our people. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale had a vision and laid it out as such:
Do you see any similarities in these demands that are 60 years apart?
Wait, I got one more for you. 50 years after the Black Panthers Platform you have Black Lives Matter releasing their platform for liberation in 2016.
112 years of stating our demands and we’re still asking for the same things. So that leads me to question, what’s going on? Why aren’t we progressing at a faster rate? We’ve been asking for criminal and economic justice for 112 years. What’s up?
A few things:
- We don’t have control of our educational system. That means we don’t have control over what our children learn about themselves and their capabilities.
- We don’t have any control over any of the institutions that support a functioning society.
- We don’t own enough of our own businesses in order to gain political access to the system.
- We don’t trust each other. Being raised in a White Supremacist system we’ve been taught to only trust the White man, we have no trust in each other, or ourselves for that matter.
- We’re afraid to lose our standing and material comforts. Liberation sounds good, but not if it means I don’t get my check on the 1st and the 15th.
Ok, I know this post is sounding a bit harsh today. It’s just the mode my mind is in. The more I dig into the past, the more frustrated I am about our present and the more worried I am about the future.
And I do believe that education and educators are the key, one of the many keys that will unlock our chains. But do we know what we want and what we need?
Stay tuned as we release our educators creed, because first we must get organized.
Keep on enjoying your summer y’all.