Virginia legislature’s “profound regret” (FCN, 03-29-2007)
Behind the pomp and circumstance of the 400th year celebration of the founding of Jamestown, Va., May 12 is the shame and horror of a history based on the destruction of the Indians, the cash crop of tobacco that led to countless deaths from smoking, and the enslavement of Africans to produce that crop.
That is why the group Black Lawyers for Justice, headed by Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party, organized a mass demonstration in front of the Jamestown Settlement Museum and Visitors Center on May 12 under the theme “Shame on Jamestown 400th Year Anniversary,” to remind America of her sordid past.
“We had a moral obligation to represent the truth and remind people of the genocide that took place with the Indians, and the African chattel slavery that took place,” said Atty. Shabazz to The Final Call. “We are opposed to the mockery of two great people on this day. Our other goal with the protest was to further the relations between the two people,” he said.
The demonstration started in Norfolk, Va. with over 100 people who caravanned to Jamestown.
Having this march did not come easy. The group was initially denied permits to gather.
“We finally won a permit. There were police everywhere; SWAT teams, but we had a strong rally and demonstration,” explained Atty. Shabazz.
The speakers at the rally included Native American activist Warrior Woman, New York Professor Leonard Jeffries and New York Councilman Charles Barron.
The Hampton Roads Daily Press reported May 13 that Chief Wabun-inini Nindiz-nikaz, representing the American Indian Movement, condemned injustices committed by Jamestown settlers against the Virginia Indians.
Chief Nindiz-nikaz noted that Indians helped the settlers learn to hunt and farm, only to be massacred later by those they had aided, he said, and criticized Indian tribes participating in the Jamestown 2007 events, calling them traitors and “Uncle Tomahawks.”
Present at the demonstration was Bryan Muhammad, a representative of the Fort Worth (Texas)/Tarrant County Millions More Movement.
“The Fort Worth/Tarrant County Millions More Movement would like to express deep outrage and condemnation of the 400th Year Celebration of the Jamestown, Virginia Massacre and Myth, which made no mention or apology for slavery, especially if you’re celebrating the anniversary of a country built on the backs of Blacks and Indigenous people,” Mr. Muhammad told The Final Call.
“The scene was overwhelming as we stood on the banks of the Jamestown River where the Queen of England and President George Bush celebrated the total slaughter of the Indigenous people and the annihilation of the Black/Original people that were tricked and kidnapped to be brought here to be made into a slave,” he said.
Many other coalition partners that stood in condemnation of the event included Bob Brown with the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party and the New Black Panther Party.
“We, as Coalition of many colors, stood together in protest to demonstrate our solidarity on behalf of our people in exposing the ‘Shame on Jamestown.’ Our voices were compelled to be heard for the 400 years of killings of millions of Blacks and Indigenous people who were killed, raped and who are now being led on a “death march” to total destruction,” said Mr. Muhammad. “We call on the Black and Indigenous Nations everywhere to raise their voices against this international insult and shame. We must now move to bring this issue to the international court as a war crime against humanity. We now know that the time for our rise is now, while the world’s eyes are focused on this shame ‘How will we respond?’”
For the rally organizers this protest was just the beginning.
“We are going to continue this challenge for the rest of the year,” said Atty. Shabazz.