by Daleel Jabir Muhammad
NEW YORK—While many people honored and celebrated the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the January 15 King holiday, on what would have been his 95th birthday, a village in Brooklyn, New York, and the Black community worldwide mourned the passing of the modern-day mother/matriarch of the Black Liberation Movement, sister and comrade Viola Plummer, Chairperson of the December 12th Movement (D12).
Queen Mother Viola Plummer, 86, was an international activist who was relentless, uncompromising, and advocated for Black people in the U.S., the Caribbean, South America and throughout the African Diaspora.
She was a stalwart and a fearless Black leader in the mold of Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Her philosophy and allegiances were akin to many freedom fighters and revolutionaries such as Zimbabwe’s former president and revolutionary Robert Mugabe, Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton, Minister Malcolm X, Cuban President Fidel Castro, Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Ture (formerly Stokley Carmichael), Dr. Carlos Russell, Elombe Brath, Sonny Abubadika Carson, Reverend Herbert Daughtry Sr., the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam and so many others.
An African Zulu proverb says, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.” With fond memories and with a correlation to this African adage many have left words of comfort, sympathy and reflections of a warrior woman who passed away due to undisclosed ailments. Sentiments were expressed on social media and at Sista’s Place, the headquarters of The December 12th Movement International Secretariat, in the Peoples Republic of Brooklyn, in the village of Bed-Stuy.
Dr. James McIntosh, co-founder of the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive To African People (CEMOTAP), recalled how insightful and analytical Ms. Plummer was during a meeting he attended with her. “At the last meeting I attended with her a week or two ago, she was busy trying to organize a Black united front against fascism. She had an urgency about it and felt that things weren’t moving at that meeting as fast as they needed to for what she saw coming up, not only in this country but internationally as well,” he said.
On Facebook, Sister Tylibah Iman Washington relayed her heartfelt sentiments about Ms. Plummer, posting, “Revolutionary freedom fighter. Angel in our midst. We sat at your feet to hear the stories of your great conquests. No Surrender! No Defeat! Thank you for being the epitome of grace under fire, never scared. Your voice was so powerful, so strong, so unique. When you spoke, we all had to listen. We will miss you forever and always, long live the spirit of Viola Plummer.”
Minister Abdul Akbar Muhammad, the International Representative of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, said, “Sister Viola Plummer was a sister who I loved very much for her hard work. She has always been a soldier. She had no fear of the enemy at all. She would stand toe to toe with the enemy and you couldn’t frighten her with jailtime or anything else when she stood for what was right.”
“In Africa one of the sayings is ‘a giant tree has fallen in the forest,’ she definitely was a giant. She preached Africa and taught young people to be more concerned and in tune with what’s happening on the African continent. That is one of the things I loved her for, getting the youth involved,” he continued.
“The last time we saw each other, we hugged each other and I told her that ‘I love you and love you for your hard work.’ When I heard that she passed I couldn’t move for a while because I couldn’t believe it; it was unexpected. I can remember when she held the Reparation’s rally in D.C. and controlled the program and everyone up there on the stage. In her passing, what I want to see now is those who will carry her mission on and to keep it going.
Don’t slow down, especially, if there are individuals like Viola who can inspire us to keep going. She was a no-nonsense sister and I know that I will miss her. My condolences to her family and to her bigger family, the Black people she loved. It is beautiful to know that as we continue to struggle, there are brothers and sisters we can count on for their words of wisdom and Viola was one of them.”
The D12 Movement is a non-governmental organization (N.G.O.) focused on Black empowerment, liberation, reparations, fighting racism, ending police brutality and fighting for human rights for all oppressed Black people. It was founded in 1987 by five Black Power movement mavericks: Elombe Brath, Sonny Abubadika Carson, Coltrane Chimurenga, Father Lawrence Lucas, and Queen mother Viola Plummer. All of these founding members have now passed. Current members of the D12 Movement have always been committed to continue the works and the progress that has been made under the group’s revolutionary founders.
This writer’s activism started through the Black Nationalist Movement as a teenager in the late 1970s with many other movement men and women. Viola Plummer or “Sister Vee” was the main one who stood out and many times led the charge through the streets of New York to end police brutality, create jobs for the youth, honor our Black heroes, fight for reparations and to call out our enemies who opposed us in the fight for Black liberation. She was a tireless Black revolutionary warrior who always had a message for the youth in the movement and the youth in the streets.
Black conscious thoughts reverberate in my mind as I recall the rallies, marches, and memories of her very distinct voice. She nurtured me and other youth in the movement, including the late Nation of Islam Eastern Regional Student Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad in the 1980s and beyond.
Many of the youth in New York who followed along the path of Black Nationalism have Sister Queen Mother Viola Plummer to thank for our positions in leadership, activism, government, education, politics and in other fields. Her motivation and fearlessness instilled courage and fearlessness in us and has fortified our resolve in the struggle to stand up, to speak up and to support strong Black leaders worldwide.
Viola Plummer is considered to be our modern-day Fannie Lou Hamer, Winnie Mandela, and Harriet Tubman all in one. She has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of many freedom fighters, friends, and family from far and near.
She was a powerful spirit and extremely enthusiastic about educating Black grassroot men, women, and children in uniting to deal with our plights on the continent of Africa, in America and throughout the Diaspora. She was the Winnie Mandela of the movement, who held it down as the last founding member of The December 12th Movement.
Her voice rang with a fervent resolve to stay the course “Straight Ahead” was her motto. She was Black, bold, beautiful, and uncompromising in her quest to free minds from White supremacy and White assimilation to better further our culture, remember our greatness and to connect on the values of our great Black ancestors.
Whether it’s the Annual Shut ‘Em down day on Malcolm X’s birthday in Harlem when businesses are asked to close for a period in remembrance of his work and sacrifice in Harlem; the continued focus on reparations in which Ms. Plummer, called a “Millions for Reparations” gathering on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 2002 on the birthday of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey; to the recent rallies, phone calls and petitions that forced New York Governor Kathy Hochul into signing a new law on December 19, 2023, to create a commission that will study the history of slavery in New York State, The December 12th Movement members will now carry the vision forward.
On the 35th anniversary of the December 12th Movement in 2022, Sister Viola Plummer reminded all in attendance that “the struggle is about freedom!” The struggle will continue.