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Interview :: Education : Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare
Prospects for Black liberation
20 Feb 2006
In April 2003 Tony Van Der Meer, a Black professor of Africana studies at UMass Boston, was assaulted and arrested by campus police after challenging an Army National Guard recruiter who threatened a student distributing leaflets for an anti-war commemoration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. Van Der Meer objected to the recruiter’s cruel remark that the student should be shot like Dr. King.

Van Der Meer tried to mediate the tense situation, but five officers physically assaulted him and arrested him for “disorderly conduct” and other trumped-up charges. After an eight-month community support campaign, all charges against Van Der Meer were dropped in December 2003. Presently litigation against the parties guilty of assaulting and violating Van Der Meer’s civil and human rights is pending.

Black liberation fighter, Assata Shakur, wrote the introduction to “State of the Race,” an anthology on the Afro-Cuba diaspora that Van Der Meer and Jemadari Kamara co-authored. Shakur has been exiled in Cuba for over two decades after being incarcerated in New Jersey as a political prisoner.

Van Der Meer is co-chair of the Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee in Boston which sponsored a major anti-war, anti-racist march and rally on Dec. 1 marking the 50th anniversary of Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks’ action launched a year-long bus boycott of 40,000 mainly Black people on Dec. 5, 1955 which ended this Jim Crow practice. The RPHRDC is now mobilizing for a “Bring the Troops Home Now! protest in Boston for March 18, the third anniversary of the Iraq war.

Following are excerpts from part three of an interview with Van Der Meer conducted by Bryan Pfeifer of the Boston WW bureau during December 2005. Go to the Black History Month section of to read parts one and two.
Boston professor & activist on
Prospects for Black liberation
Published Feb 19, 2006 8:15 PM

WW: Will the RPHRDC continue after Dec. 1?

Van Der Meer: Yes. We will continue to raise the issues put forth in terms of justice for Katrina survivors, jobs, a living wage and money for healthcare and education, to cut the military budget and bring the troops home. As long as those issues exist the coalition should exist.

WW: Would you comment on the connection in 1955 and that period generally between the African anti-colonial liberation movements and others in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere, but specifically the effect of the African anti-colonial struggles on the civil rights movement and Black liberation movements in the U.S.?

Van Der Meer: When you look at the struggles here in relationship to anti-colonial struggles in Africa there was a kind of reciprocal relationship. It created a sense of internationalism that has been undermined by others in terms of the Black liberation movement.

The Black liberation movement has been looked upon as being some form of narrow nationalism. More particularly some white left forces haven’t seen the broadness in what the Black liberation movement had done in terms of having an internationalist perspective in that regard. When I think of that period I think of people like Robert F. Williams, Malcolm X, organizations like Revolutionary Action Movement and the relations they had with Cuba, Africa and China. Williams was basically an ambassador for us to Cuba. There’s a film in which there are pictures of Williams going throughout China, Africa, Cuba and Vietnam. So there was this broad internationalist view of oppression around the globe.

Trying to broaden respect for peoples’ right to self-determination within the world and trying to deal with oppression is something that is starting to happen now. The emergence of the realignment of the Black liberation movement is very important and it has the experiences and the lessons that the broader movement can learn from within an internationalist context.

We’re in a new period where we have to begin to frame this in a theoretical form but within the context of struggle and practice. This is what’s important because the regular people are workers and even those advanced sector of workers can develop theories from their own practice.

We’re going to a new phase and if we can excite these young people out here we can engage in a protracted struggle. It’s about power and to be able to determine what kind of society that we want and not expect the answer is to get Black people or Cape Verdean people or Haitian people or Spanish-speaking or Afro-Latin@ into positions that white people running society are doing. It’s about trying to change the structure of the society. This is what Dr. King said, that there had to be economic and political structural changes in the society.

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20 Feb 2006
A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Now if only someone will do the same thing in the Sudan and Mauritania