Category Archives: Political Ideology

Killing Trayvons ~ “American Violence at the Intersection of Race & Class”

kag3with Kevin Alexander Gray

Co-editor [with Jeffrey St. Clair and JoAnn Wypijewski] of Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence, and author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics for an evening of analysis, dialogue and performance.

Killing Trayvons

Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. He is a contributing editor to Counterpunch, on the boards of RESIST & Savannah River Site Watch. He served as a national board member of the American Civil Liberties Union for 4 years & is a past eight-term president of the South Carolina affiliate of the ACLU.  Advisory board member of DRC Net (Drug Policy Reform Coalition), & was Jesse Jackson’s ’88 SC campaign manager. 

“There’s no keener mind, no sharper eye, focused on the condition of black politics. Gray’s take is radical, so his focus is always ample and humane.”

Adam Gottlieb

 joining Kevin will be Adam Gottlieb

Adam is a poet-emcee/teaching-artist/singer-songwriter/revolutionary from Chicago. As a teen, he was featured in the 2009 documentary film “Louder Than A Bomb.” Since then, he has gone on to perform and teach widely throughout Chicago and the U.S. In 2012 he co-founded the Royal Souls open mic in the East Roger’s Park neighborhood of Chicago. He is a founder of the Chicago branch of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade, and performs with his band OneLove.

Also featuring . . . Chicago poets active in the ‘Let Us Breathe’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, along with members of high school teams in the 2015 Louder than a Bomb spoken word competition.

The presentation by Gray and the performances by the artists will be followed by a conversation with the author, poets and audience!

Join Us for an evening of analysis, dialogue and performance!

Saturday, April 11th.  6 – 8 PM
Powell’s Books Chicago
1218 South Halsted

Sponsored by: The Chicago Consortium for Working Class Studies & the RevolutionaryPoets Brigade, Chicago

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The Surrender of America’s Liberals | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

The Surrender of America’s Liberals | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com.

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley (audiobook)

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
(May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family’s eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Earl’s civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm’s fourth birthday.

Malcolm’s siblings: (in order of birth) Ella, Earl and Mary (half-siblings from Earl’s previous marriage); Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Reginald and Yvonne.

Rev. Little was found dead in 1931 after being beaten and left on the train tracks, where he was run over by a streetcar. Malcolm was 6 at the time. No one was ever convicted of the crime but his death is widely attributed to the Black Legion. Malcolm’s mother spent the next 26 years in a Kalamazoo mental institution because of the uncertainty and paranoia around her husband’s murder, as well as the stress from her failure to provide for her 6 children at the height of the Great Depression.

Malcolm X was with the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and ’60s, where he worked under NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad expanding the group’s membership among black Americans nationwide. Due largely to his efforts, the NOI grew from 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960.

Malcolm X became the minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem and Temple No. 11 in Boston, while also founding temples in Hartford and Philadelphia. In 1960, he established the national newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, in order to further promote the message of the NOI.

In 1963, Malcolm X became disillusioned when he learned that Muhammad had violated his own teachings by carrying on many extramarital affairs. Malcolm’s feelings of betrayal, combined with Muhammad’s anger over Malcolm’s comments regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, led Malcolm leaving the NOI in 1964.

That same year, Malcolm X went on a trip through North Africa and the Middle East. The trip was a turning point in his life. He learned to place the American Civil Rights Movement within the context of a global anti-colonial struggle, embracing socialism and Pan-Africanism. Malcolm X also made the Hajj, the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during which he converted to traditional Islam and changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Malcolm X announced the establishment of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) at a the Audubon Ballroom on June 28, 1964. He had written the group’s charter with John Henrik Clarke, Albert Cleage, Jesse Gray, and Gloria Richardson, among others.

Malcolm X, along with Clarke, wrote the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) Basic Unity Program:

  • Restoration: “In order to release ourselves from the oppression of our enslavers then, it is absolutely necessary for the Afro-American to restore communication with Africa.”
  • Reorientation: “We can learn much about Africa by reading informative books.”
  • Education: “The Organization of Afro-American Unity will devise original educational methods and procedures which will liberate the minds of our children. We will … encourage qualified Afro-Americans to write and publish the textbooks needed to liberate our minds … educating them [our children] at home.”
  • Economic Security: “After the Emancipation Proclamation … it was realized that the Afro-American constituted the largest homogeneous ethnic group with a common origin and common group experience in the United States and, if allowed to exercise economic or political freedom, would in a short period of time own this country. We must establish a technician bank. We must do this so that the newly independent nations of Africa can turn to us who are their brothers for the technicians they will need now and in the future.”
Taken February 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was assassinated.

Taken February 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was assassinated.

At a speaking engagement in the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965 three gunmen rushed Malcolm onstage. They shot him 15 times at close range. The 39-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Fifteen hundred people attended Malcolm’s funeral in Harlem on February 27, 1965 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ (now Child’s Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ). After the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and buried Malcolm themselves.

Later that year, Betty gave birth to their twin daughters Malikah & Malaak.

Malcolm’s murderers, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler (Muhammad Abdul Aziz) and Thomas 15X Johnson (Khalil Islam) were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966. The three men were all members of the Nation of Islam.  Aziz was paroled in 1985; Islam was freed in 1987. Hayer (the only murderer that confessed), now known as Thomas Hagan, was freed in 2010. 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

“The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley.  Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X’s philosophy of black pride, black nationalism and Pan-Africanism. After the death of his subject Haley authored the book’s epilogue, which describes their collaboration and summarizes the end of Malcolm X’s life.

While Malcolm X and scholars contemporary to the book’s publication regarded Haley as the book’s ghostwriter, modern scholars tend to regard him as an essential collaborator who intentionally muted his authorial voice to allow readers to feel as though Malcolm X were speaking directly to them. Haley also influenced some of Malcolm X’s literary choices; for example, when Malcolm X left the Nation Of Islam during the composition of the book, Haley persuaded him to favor a style of “suspense and drama” rather than rewriting earlier chapters into a polemic against the Nation. Furthermore, Haley’s proactive censorship of the manuscript’s antisemitic material significantly influenced the ideological tone of the Autobiography, increasing its commercial success and popularity although distorting Malcolm X’s public persona.”
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After Trayvon: Revisiting MLK’s “Triple Evils” | Pamela Brown

In the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. defined the problem of America under the weight of the “triple evils” of racism, economic exploitation and war. In the 21st, the case of Trayvon Martin has created an existential crisis for black Americans and allies engaged in the struggle for racial justice. It underscores, again, that for many millions of people the “ism” felt as the greatest threat is not capitalism or militarism. Yet these effusions of persistent racism are enmeshed in a context: of growing inequality under neoliberal economic regimes and of wide-scale state-sponsored violence globally.  It is time for all people to revisit MLK’s “triple evils” in forming a strategy for resistance and a vision of the future — re-imagining what freedom might look like and how it might be achieved.

Pamela Brown

Pamela Brown

Kopkind’s 2013 Harvest Late Brunch fundraiser will be held Sunday, October 13, at 2 pm.  Our speaker is Pamela Brown.

Pam was deeply involved in Occupy Wall Street and has continued in its offshoot organizing and educational projects, at the convergence of race, class and debt. She is a columnist for Tidal Magazine and an organizer with the People’s Investigation of Wall Street. She was a founding member of Strike Debt and the Rolling Jubilee, and has been involved in campaigns and writing projects including the student debt pledge of refusal and the Debt Resistors Operations Manual. With a background in philosophy and media arts, Pam is currently a doctoral student in sociology at The New School.

Kopkind is a living memorial to the great radical journalist Andrew Kopkind. Each summer since 1999 it has been bringing together journalists, activists and filmmakers for week-long seminar/retreat sessions with the aim of thinking deeply, acting consciously, living expressively and extending the field for freedom, pleasure and imagination.

Out-of-towners, we have some rooms and cabins, so contact us if you’d like to stay the night.

Please Come! We Look Forward To Seeing You!

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LIVE AT THE ICE HOUSE: EPISODE 4 ~ “ROCK AND ROLE MODELS”

Judah 1

American roots-rock duo William Pilgrim & The All Grows Up return with a brand new episode of Live at the Ice House, the duo’s socially conscious ongoing music web series. In the latest installment, titled “Rock & Role Models,” Ishmael Herring, aka William Pilgrim, and his musical cohort PM Romero, take the show on the road to East West Studios in Hollywood, CA, where they are currently finishing a new record for Orange County-based label, Moonlight Graham Records that is scheduled for release in early 2014.


Exene Cervenka and Kevin Alexander Gray

Exene Cervenka and Kevin Alexander Gray

In this episode, William Pilgrim and PM Romero are joined by the legendary Blind Boys Of Alabama, and other friends from previous Live at the Ice House segments including Modern Poet and Renaissance Man David “Judah 1” Oliver from Episode 3, singer Lesedi Lo-Fi from Episode 2, and Exene Cervenka of the celebrated band X, who narrated the series’ debut episode that focused on teen homelessness. Social and political blogger/author Kevin Alexander Gray also stops by for a heated but good natured and insightful discussion with Pilgrim and Romero.

Blind Boys Of Alabama at East West Studios In Hollywood

PM Romero with the Blind Boys Of Alabama & friends at East West Studios In Hollywood

The Blind Boys of Alabama are notably featured on a track on William Pilgrim & The All Grows Up’s forthcoming sophomore release, titled Epic Endings. The five-time Grammy Award winning gospel group was in the process of cutting tracks at East West Studios and, drawn to the message of Live at the Ice House, asked to join in the roundtable discussions. The Blind Boys’ soulful style and spirituality prove an ideal complement to William Pilgrim’s haunting, bluesy vocals. X singer Exene Cervenka is also featured in a duet with William Pilgrim on the upcoming release and in this Live at the Ice House episode she speaks on the inspirations and meanings behind that song.

Ishmael Herring, aka William Pilgrim and Kevin Alexander Gray

Ishmael Herring, aka William Pilgrim and Kevin Alexander Gray

“Last episode we tried to demonstrate the power we all have with the words we choose and how we use them,” says William Pilgrim. “In this episode we move to focus more on music.  Music was an integral part of the 60′s fight for civil rights and it spoke out against our destruction of the people of Vietnam and to the tightening grip of American business over our government and public policy.  We believe music, performers and songwriters have a responsibility today to pick up where our 60′s predecessors left off.”

“Music is a tremendously powerful force for change and can inform and raise awareness but also impact people on a deeply emotional level, and this is where the seed for real social change must take root,” says PM Romero. “With no resonating voice within government or the media to challenge our misguided understandings of civics, economics and history, music and the artists that craft songs can become major influences to break through our corrupted common sense and reason.  Music can be the voice that unifies and organizes people around a common good.”

Live at the Ice House, “Rock & Role Models,”  is also available now on http://liveicehouse.com.

Live at the ICE HOUSE

Live at the ICE HOUSE

Additional information on William Pilgrim & The All Grows Up Is available at: https://www.facebook.com/williampilgrimmusic.

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Monique Reymond interviews Kevin Alexander Gray

So, I’m sitting on a bench outside the recording studio on Sunset and a woman dressed all in black rolls up on her bike and asks can she interview me… ~

Monique Reymond

Monique Reymond

The woman asking the questions is “Foley Artist” Monique Reymond.  Ms. Reymond is also a comedian.

 | July 13, 2013 ~ Why the Zimmerman Trial Made Me Ill ~ http://progressive.org/zimmerman-trial-made-me-ill

| July 17, 2013 ~ “No Rights That Any White Man is Bound to Respect” http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/17/what-it-feels-like-to-be-black-in-america/

| July 17, 2013 ~ Why the Zimmerman verdict is more important that O.J. ~ http://progressive.org/zimmerman-verdict-more-important-than-oj

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U.S. Gun Ownership & Gun Death Data

(Note: The following data is compiled from a list of sources included at the end of summary.  Please click links for more detailed information.  Does not include deaths from war or other government/state perpetrators to include “crimes” committed in war zones. Both Staff Sgt. Robert Bales and Major Nidal Hasan are cited in the overview. Doubtless, Hasan is included in current domestic crime statistics, Bales crimes are probably not included in domestic homicide stats.  I also encourage readers to check data presented against other sources.)

According to a 2007 Small Arms Survey by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies, about 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States and the nation has about “90 guns for every 100 citizens.”   The US is it the most heavily armed nation in the world with its citizens “owning 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms.” 

The 2007 report estimated there were 650 million civilian firearms worldwide, and 225 million held by law enforcement and military forces.

Although the AR-15 assault-type weapon – the civilian adaptation of the standard military issue M-16  – is the most popular “sportsman’s weapon” in the US, some estimates are that during the last 60 years well over 100 million Kalashnikov AK47-style assault rifles – famously referred to as “the people’s gun” – have been put into circulation around the world.

The FBI also estimates that there are 250-270 million registered privately owned firearms in the US – 100 million handguns, 150-170 million shotguns and rifles. Others estimate 350,000,000, as there’s no way to know the number of unregistered, illegal foreign-made weapons in the country.  Add those owned by the military, law enforcement agencies and museums and that’s 1 weapon for every man, woman and child.

There are 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers, 51,438 of which are retail gun stores. That compares with 10,787 Starbucks stores, and 143,839 gas stations across the country. And that doesn’t count gun shows. About 40 percent of guns are sold in unlicensed private sales.

The majority of guns are owned by whites.

Based upon surveys, the following are estimates of private firearm ownership in the U.S. as of 2010:

    Households With a Gun  Adults Owning a Gun  Adults Owning a Handgun
Percentage

 40-45%

 30-34%

 17-19%

Number

 47-53 million

 70-80 million

 40-45 million

A 2005 nationwide Gallup poll of 1,012 adults found the following levels of firearm ownership: 

Category

 Percentage Owning

a Firearm

Households

 42%

Individuals

 30%

Male

 47%

Female

 13%

White

 33%

Nonwhite

 18%

Republican

 41%

Independent

 27%

Democrat

 23%

In the same poll, gun owners stated they own firearms for the following reasons:

 Protection Against Crime  67%
Target Shooting  66%
Hunting  41%

The most current polls report that among those who own handguns, 75 percent reported in a national survey that self-protection is the primary reason for owning a firearm. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology (link is to pdf for 2009 study) reported that US civilians used guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year. (Is a Gun an Effective Means of Self-Defense?) 

Other cite or argue:

  • The 2nd Amendment & constitutionally protected rights – “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
  • The 2nd Amendment is “the rebellion clause” in the Constitution (“No Prior Restraint [1st Amendment]”Doctrine of Prior Restraint),
  • “The 2nd Amendment is there to defend the 1st.”
  • The government – to include the police and the military, shouldn’t have more guns than the people least we’d have a police-state,
  • The police can’t be around to protect one all the time.
  • Prevention from foreign invasion
  • Laurence Tribe on the 2nd Amendment Tribe, well-known as a liberal scholar, concludes that the right to bear arms was conceived as an important political right that should not be dismissed as “wholly irrelevant.” Rather, Tribe thinks the Second Amendment assures that “the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification.” Tribe posits that it includes an individual right, “admittedly of uncertain scope,” to “possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes.””
  • Laurence Henry Tribe (bio)  |   Harvard Law School bio

[So You Think You Know the Second Amendment? By Jeffrey Toobin – http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html#ixzz2FSy4HiRc]

The Real And Racist Origins of the Second Amendment By Bruce Dixon – http://blackagendareport.com/content/american-history-black-history-and-right-bear-arms

United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law – GunPolicy.org – http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states

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