Although the two of us had a conversation about the question yesterday, I continued to think quite a bit about it last night and it actually raised some points in my mind that are worth sharing. I joined the A-APRP in 1984. Obviously, the political landscape during that time was very much different than it is today. Still, the A-APRP at that time did have a level of public presence. We were regularly featured and attacked in white left publications from groups like the Progressive Labor Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party. We were also prominent in African publications such as the Nation of Islam's Final Call newspaper and we could depend upon regular attacks against us within every issue of the African People's Socialist Party's Burning Spear newspaper. In fact, I even remember and have news clippings from several capitalist newspapers about our work. Of course, anyone who knows anything about the A-APRP's history knows that during those days we benefited from the presence of a very high profile member - Kwame Ture - formally Stokely Carmichael. Kwame's presence and impact cannot be overstated. He gained international prominence as the chairperson of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the mid 60s and a little later, as the Prime Minister for the Black Panther Party. Its not an understatement to say that from the period of mid 1966 through 1969, Kwame was the single most identifiable face within the so-called Black Power movement in the U.S. He was certainly a prime target of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO). The now infamous memo from J. Edgar Hoover to all FBI field offices calling for coordinated attacks against African liberation organizations named Kwame as "the obvious heir to (the Black Nationalist) throne" after the murder of Malcolm X. Kwame's work and leadership during this time was so widely respected and/or hated that Edward Brooke, the first elected African in the U.S. Senate since reconstruction, propelled himself into office in 1966 based on a block of support from the republican white petit-bourgeois from his New England district. Brooke's campaign slogan? "A vote for me is a vote against Stokely Carmichael."
Kwame used his popularity with the African masses to spread his developing consciousness around Pan-Africanism and the need for organization. He used his name recognition from the 60s to help build the A-APRP. In 1972, the A-APRP had a press conference in Washington D.C. officially launching the A-APRP in the U.S. The focus during that press conference was on the A-APRP being built as a mass, independent, revolutionary, Pan-African political party, based in Africa. The emphasis on revolution, not reform. This is important because the focus on revolutionary organizing, as opposed to reform oriented mobilization, situated the A-APRP in a much different position than pretty much every other organization doing work. Our focus from that day forward was on the work, not on us, and that remains the reality to this day. This was of course much more difficult with Kwame's presence because people always wanted to focus on him the individual, as opposed to the A-APRP and/or the work. Most of our relationships were at least in part governed by people's connection to him as a high profile individual within the African liberation movement. That's why when he died in November of 1998, much of the focus we received, which was based in large part on his presence, went away with his physical transition. For many people, the A-APRP was simply Kwame Ture in manifestation. And there is no question that we have stumbled as an organization after losing Kwame's physical presence. Any organization with such a high profile person would struggle to find it's footing, but we have always been a party based on cadre development, not individual cult of personality worship.
Going back to that press conference in 1972 at Howard University, it was previously stated that the focus was on revolutionary organizing. There was a statement made at that press conference that the A-APRP would build a revolutionary Pan-African institution in the form of this political party without using the capitalist media. Kwame and others, learning first hand the manipulative basis of capitalist owned media, understood that revolutionary organizing work didn't require being in the corporate media because revolutionary work requires constant work with the people and this work isn't aided by media. In fact, a public profile with revolutionary organizing work has many more negatives than positives. Understanding these variables is crucial to realizing the answer to the comrade's question because as the title of this post indicates, in spite of Kwame's presence, our focus has always been on our revolutionary organizing work, not on getting you to know who we are. At that 72 press conference, the programs the A-APRP would focus it's work on were also announced. One of those programs was the "Smash the FBI/CIA" program. During the press conference, it was stated that we would expose the criminal nature of the FBI and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and again, we would do it without the media. I can tell you that at the time I joined the A-APRP, 32 years ago, that was an extremely bold pronouncement even twelve years after it was made. Most people during the 80s - when the CIA was running rampant in Greneda, Chile, El Salvador, Angola, Mozambique, and everywhere else, were deathly afraid of even talking about U.S. intelligence agencies. Imagine that this was at a time when the violence from COINTELPRO activities from the 60s was still fresh on people's minds. I remember people saying the A-APRP was crazy to be talking about that and I was crazy to join them. I remember one of the first events I organized for the A-APRP. It was a film series at the Cal State University, Sacramento campus in 1984. We reserved a room and I made a very crude flyer advertising the film we were going to show. The murder of Black Panther Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton. My headline on that flyer was "The FBI Killed Fred Hampton." I recall having several conversations with people I passed that flyer to. People who were offended, hurt, and frightened, that I would place such words on a flyer, but the cadre I was being consolidated under were resolute. This is the correct message and we were sticking to it. So I did. And, the night of that film the room was packed. And three decades later I can tell you I've done hundreds of COINTELPRO lectures, seminars, workshops, and I've written dozens of articles on the same. And this is the same for A-APRP cadre everywhere. The results? Today, everyone everywhere knows that the FBI and CIA are terrorist organizations and this change of consciousness isn't the result of educational reporting from CNN or the New York Times. I would guess that 90% of the folks who today understand clearly that the FBI and CIA are terrorist and corrupt organizations couldn't tell you a single thing about the A-APRP, but they know our political position about the FBI/CIA. I'm not saying we were the only organization taking that position. We weren't, but we were and continue to be in the forefront of that work, providing cutting edge information on it, even if the people receiving the information don't know where it came from.
Another example of our political influence and contributions is around the question of African unity and joining an organization. For 40 plus years the A-APRP has systematically argued the need for African unity and for Africans to join organizations. We have worked to bring organizations together. Since our revolutionary organizing work includes training people on how to properly organize, that means we have put a lot of time and effort into bringing African organizations together. This requires strong facilitation skills and rock solid follow through, attributes A-APRP cadre possess as second nature. So, although they may not bring us up by name, you can go to any city and the Nation of Islam may not have more than a nominal relationship with the people in Malcolm X Grassroots Movement who have the same with the local Black Lives Matter chapters, but its pretty certain that all of those people will know the local A-APRP cadres. And they will know them because of their consistent efforts to appeal and work to encourage them to come together. And, our calls for everyone to join an organization have become one of the main staples of political work, not just in African organizing circles, but with everyone.
Finally, the A-APRP has taken a principled position for decades on the question of settler colonialism. We have always said, and we will continue to say, that the Americas are the land of the Indigenous people's of the Western Hemisphere - the American Indian people and that the Palestinian people have the complete right to their self determination. We have forged principled relationships with organizations like the American Indian Movement and the International Indian Treaty Council that those organizations have documented on their own websites. We have done the same with the Palestinian movements and the Irish Republican Socialist network. So, it feels wonderful to see Palestinian youth activists connecting with Black Lives Matter activists, but it was telling when one of those youthful African activists, who had recently visited Palestine as a part of an African delegation, reported back that the Palestinians were very well informed about the history of the African liberation movement. How? Because there have been African organizations forging those ties for decades and the A-APRP has been credited by even our enemies like the so-called anti-defamation league as being principled players in maintaining this relationship between our communities. So, pardon us if we take pride in seeing the prominence of American Indian activists and Palestinian activists at the October 2015 Million Man March. The millions there, including most of the youthful A-APRP in attendance, don't fully grasp that history, but the work has been done and it continues to be done.
Probably our greatest contribution has been bringing the masses of African people closer to Africa, which means closer to each other. By this we mean helping our people understand that we are one, no matter where we are from. African people being divided only benefits imperialism so much of our work has been simply getting Africans to understand that the only difference between us is a boat stop. No organization has been as clear and forthright about this question of identity than the A-APRP and that can be stated confidently. Sure, there is still confusion around this question. The concept of black identity, or negritude as Sekou Ture correctly classified it, is still very prominent. African people are encouraged to relate to and see our struggle as one of being black, as opposed to the exploitation of Africa. Our enemies promote this because they desire to continue to have African resources at their cheap beck and call and as long as we are philosophically disconnected from Africa, we will not notice that everything needed to fuel our existence, they are stealing from our homeland, while we continue to beg them for jobs. In spite of this confusion, we have done an outstanding job of breaking down the psychological barriers around Africa. More Africans than ever are traveling to Africa and the psychological separation is being weakened more and more each day. On the continent, we have done much to help embolden the African masses there that organizing our people is possible. Much of this is being prompted by our consistent push for Africans to connect to Africa. Yet again, many Africans see these connections today, but they don't necessarily know who the A-APRP is.
Since our objective is Pan-Africanism, which we define as one unified socialist Africa, we know revolutionary organizing is necessary for our people's forward progress. The core of this is the political consciousness of our people. So, this is where our work is eternally focused - the masses of our people organized into political ideas and actions fueled by revolutionary Pan-African ideology. The focus is in spreading this work and idea, not in getting people to know who the A-APRP is. Actually, if you study that "Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare" by Kwame Nkrumah, you should read pages 56 to 60. In those pages, he describes that our strategy to achieve Pan-Africanism is to build the All African Committee for Political Coordination (A-ACPC) which consists of all of the revolutionary Pan-African organizations on the ground, everywhere. Those organizations, once united into that A-ACPC, will form the actual A-APRP, the one political party governing the African continent. This is our work and we have made great strides in advancing it. If you understand that, you will see where the United Front strategy fits into the A-ACPC structure. African Liberation Day, another strong institution the A-APRP has been in the forefront of sustaining, is proof positive of that. Every year, Africans on three continents and the Caribbean are speaking in one voice, setting the stage for actual Pan-Africanism. Again, you probably know people who know about African Liberation Day, but don't know the A-APRP. We are fine with things the way they are. We will continue to spread the ideas. Since the A-APRP is still under construction, it's not important that people know who we are yet anyway. One telling variable about the future is in the masses of young Africans who are joining the A-APRP all over the world, especially in Africa today. When I joined, much of the reason was related to Kwame Ture. Today, most of these youth are being attracted by the ideas. They have no idea who Kwame Ture is. I think that reality says all that needs to be said about the title of this post.