WASHINGTON—Amid the backdrop of honking horns, chants and cheers as some people in D.C.’s community celebrated the news of President-elect Joseph Biden’s victory, the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations rallied at Malcolm X Park for the 12th consecutive year. The coalition cautioned that it does not matter who is in the White House, Blacks need their own self-determination.
“The contest was never between two representatives of the same oppressive power,” coalition chairman Omali Yeshitela told The Final Call. “It is between us and the whole U.S. colonial state with this slogan, ‘Black Power Matters,’ down with colonialism, and we want Black community control of the police. We believe that every issue we have been dealing here and around the world is encompassed with this slogan,” he said.
“People have been saying Black Lives Matter, but it doesn’t say anything. Unless you have power, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter to your oppressor. We want everyone that comes today to hold up Black Power, down with colonialism which is a political and economic system that dominates Black people all over the world and Black control of the police which is part of the process to negate the military presence in our community,” Mr. Yeshitela added.
That message is this year’s theme, “Black Power Matters,” “Down with Colonialism” and “Black Community Control of the Police.” The coalition is made up of 18 different organizations and individuals that believe millions of Americans have been pushed out of legitimate political life by the country’s leadership. Both ruling parties, they believe represent the interests of one single White colonial-capitalist ruling class.
The coalition believes that more and more people have come to the conclusion that neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party represents the will of the people. However, most people feel that there is no other option than to vote for one or the other.
The Black is Back Coalition wants to be that other option. “We want to send a strong message to that White House which is the seat of U.S. imperialism and oppression that we don’t care who is in that White House. We demand an end to oppression of people all over the world. We want AFRICOM abolished, and an end to colonialism. We want Black community control of every aspect of our lives,” coalition co-chair Lisa Davis told The Final Call.
“Every single four years they do this musical chairs kind of thing called elections. All it is, is replacing one oppressor with another who are controlled by U.S. imperialism,” she explained. “The only answer to our problems is Black liberation and the Black liberation movement. We will never find any of these political parties, Republican nor Democrat, ever advance our cause or give any advantage to the Black community.”
March organizer Elikya Ngoma told The Final Call, “We want to make it clear to the Black community that we have to have our own political agenda. We have to fight for self-determination and that we can’t keep our future tied into the White House and imperialism.”
The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) was also a co-sponsor of the Nov. 7 march. Ajamu Baraka, national organizer and national spokesperson for BAP is an adamant and consistent voice against nuclear weapons.
“It is an irrational and immoral use of public funds to spend over a trillion dollars to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal that both the Obama and Trump regimes committed to,” he explained. “This criminal use of public funds and the outrageous theory that the U.S. can launch a first strike against Russia or China, and catch their missiles in their silos, demonstrates that the U.S., no matter who occupies the White House, is an existential threat to collective humanity.”
While many Blacks were elated to have the first Black president in Barack Obama, the Black is Back Coalition saw the need to form after his election and that year had their first march on the White House.
They argue that America’s capitalist economy, based on profit and private ownership of the means of production, cannot provide security for her people. “Joblessness with unproductive and underpaid employment is the order of the day and empty promises of $15.00 per hour over a number of years can ever begin to address the crisis for the oppressed. Meanwhile trillions of public dollars are being shoveled into the coffers of Wall Street and the U.S. ruling class,” march organizers explained.
Another march co-sponsor was the New Black Panther Party. “We are supporting this march because whereever Black people are involved, the Panther Party tends to support them. This movement has raised the issue of confronting the White man directly at the White people’s house or the White supremacy house,” Sheikh Imam Akbar, New Black Panther Party national representative told The Final Call.
The march and rally featured a variety of speakers representing the coalition. D.C. Poet Luci Murphy engaged the audience with a chant about self-determination, “Yes we can!” Marchers then left Malcolm X Park and walked the few miles to get as close as they could to Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. There they were met with hundreds of revelers celebrating the Biden-Harris win.
The coalition includes the African People Socialist Party, the United African Peoples Organization, the Black Alliance For Peace, the New African Independence Party, and more. It has three working groups to address police brutality, health care and political prisoners.
“I’ve never heard of this group,” Kamau Johnson told The Final Call. “But what they are saying makes sense. We do need to have Black community control of the police. I like what I’m hearing. I voted like I do every election, but we need other options too.”
The coalition held a virtual conference the next day on Nov. 8 with a panel on the National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination. It has 19 demands that include:
Black Women:With this National Black Political Agenda for Self-determination, the entire Black or African nation declares our commitment to facilitate the elevation of African women to full, equal partnership in our struggle to create a new world of freedom and socialist democracy for a united Black community.
The Black Family: We demand an immediate halt to attacks on the Black family, a genocidal campaign rooted in the Atlantic Slave Trade and embedded in U.S. public and private policy.
Black Community Control Of The Police: We demand the immediate withdrawal of all domestic military occupation forces from Black communities. This democratic demand assumes the ability of Black people to mobilize for our own security and to redefine the role of the police so that it no longer functions as an agency imposed on us from the outside.