Black Ministers Form “Occupy The Dream” in “Lock-Stop” with OWS
“The Black church cannot afford to sit on the sidelines, but must be on the front lines of this fight for justice,” said Rev. Jamal Bryant, of the newly-formed Occupy the Dream movement. Bryant, who was joined at a Washington press conference by former NAACP executive director Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Occupy Wall Street activist David DeGraw, said African American clergy will demand an immediate moratorium on housing foreclosures, strengthening of rights to Pell Grants for college education, and $100 billion from Wall Street for economic development. “These companies owe a debt to the citizens that made them the wealthy entities that they are,” said Rev. Bryant, calling the sum a “drop in the bucket.” Occupy the Dream will target Federal Reserve sites in various cities on January 16, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, depositing crutches, walkers and wheelchairs at the scene to symbolize how the economy has been crippled by the quasi-public agency’s policies.
“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African American community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice, said David DeGraw, reading a statement written by “about 30” Occupy Wall Street organizers.” Rev. Chavis, now a co-chair, along with media mogul Russell Simmons, of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, said, “It is in our interest to build coalitions beyond ourselves.” Black people must “participate in our own resurrection, our own empowerment.”
Black Church Not the “Lynchpin” of Rights Fight
“Black American thinkers running the gamut from liberal, progressive to radical espoused secular humanist views on white supremacy, economic capitalist exploitation, women’s rights, on imperialism, all of the issues that affect contemporary African Americans,” said activist and scholar Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars. Even Dr. Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference “were actively disavowed and demonized by the mainstream Black church organizations for their radicalism, particularly Dr. King during the latter part of his life,” said Hutchinson. “This idea that Black theological traditions are the lynchpin of Black human rights thought and civil rights resistance and political organizing, is extremely egregious.”
People’s Organization for Progress to Rally for Voting Rights, Economic Justice
“The issues that P.O.P. is fighting about are issues of working people,” said Adrienne Taylor, an activist with the Communications Workers of America, Local 1040, in Newark, New Jersey. P.O.P marks day 176 of its planned 381-day marathon of daily demonstrations for jobs, education, housing, justice and peace, with a major rally for economic justice and voting rights set for January 15. Protesters will be on the streets of Newark on Christmas and New Years, said P.O.P. president Larry Hamm.
Congress Doesn’t Care if DC Residents “Live or Die”
Government-funded abortions and free needle programs have once again been made illegal in Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress, which under the Constitution has exclusive control over the nation’s capital, “is riding our backs into the grave,” said Anise Jenkins, of the Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition. “They don’t care if we live or die.” President Obama “was willing, as he was in April, to sell us out,” despite having gotten “over 90 percent of our vote” in the 2008 election, said Jenkins. “Does he expect us to continue to vote for him, because he thinks we have no alternative?” She urged support for legislation that would make Washington, DC, a state. “We’re the only jurisdiction in the country that has to suffer this oppression” of rule by Congress.
Most Blacks, and Nearly Half of Americans, Are Economically Insecure
A study shows 62 percent of African American households and 45 percent of all American families live with economic insecurity. Donna Addkison, president of Wider Opportunities for Women, which commissioned the study, found that 80 percent of single Black mothers “working the equivalent of full time still are not earning enough to get” beyond economic insecurity. “We’re talking about a baseline, we’re not talking about even cable television or cell phones,” but the costs of housing, food, transportation, health care and child care, “basic needs,” said Addkison. “Economic issues are women’s issues.”
Political Prisoners Central to Black Movement
Movement-building “must deeply involve the plight of political prisoners,” said Dr. Jared Ball, editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report and professor of communications at Morgan State University, in Baltimore. Political prisoners should be valued for their experience, their analysis, “and the standard they set for the rest of us,” said Ball. The movement “wouldn’t do half bad by replacing some of the Dysons, Simmons and Sharptons with folks like Ashanti Alston, Mutulu Shakur and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoats.”
Buju Banton Appeals 10-Year Sentence
Lawyers for Jamaican Reggae and Dance Hall artist Buju Banton have appealed his ten-year conviction on cocaine charges in a trap set by the Drug Enforcement Agency. “Buju Banton has a voice that many in conservative positions and in power would rather see silenced,” said Aula Sumbry, of the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee. The singer is currently incarcerated in a prison near Miami.
Congolese Election A Fraud
“The results of the elections are clearly showing that there was fraud, a staged kind of fraud,” said Bahati Jacques, of the African Faith and Justice Network. Jacques, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, suggests a negotiated solution that would impose a runoff election between President Joseph Kabila and the official second-place candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi. Or, Tshisekedi could be proclaimed president, on the basis that the party that engaged “in fraud deserves no trust at all.”