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News :: Human Rights
Socialist forum addresses katrina, imperialist War & the struggle for Black liberation
21 Feb 2006
A broad range of working class and oppressed people from across the Northeast celebrated Black History Month in a Boston public meeting sponsored by Workers World Party Feb. 18.
Socialist forum addesses Katrina, imperialist war & the struggle for Black liberation

By Bryan G. Pfeifer

A broad range of working class and oppressed people from across the Northeast celebrated Black History Month here in a public meeting sponsored by Workers World Party Feb. 18.

Robert Traynham of the United Steelworkers L. 8751, opened the meeting entitled “Katrina, Imperialist War & the Struggle for Black Liberation,” by leading the standing audience with a rendition of the African American national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Before introducing the featured speakers, Traynham conveyed one of his many personal experiences of Jim Crow segregation in the South where, as a teenager, he and his Black friends and family members were bussed past three white high schools to attend a segregated Black high school. After the Klu Klux Klan bombed his school, Traynham and his friends were forced to attend school in ramshackle temporary structures for the duration of their high school years.

Opening speaker Clemencia Lee, co-director of the Cultural Café, an independent alternative cultural venue of art and politics and site of the meeting, welcomed participants who packed a gallery room adorned with Afro-Latin@ diaspora art.

Tony Van Der Meer, Adjunct professor of Africana studies at UMass Boston, Co-chair of the Boston Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee and a co-founder of the Cultural Café, framed his remarks in the context of Hurricane Katrina, reparations and the historical treatment of the Black people in North America from slavery to the present day.

Denouncing FEMA’s criminal actions of evicting 4,500 survivors from hotel rooms and other shelters nationwide in early Feburary, Van Der Meer called for participants to support Feb. 28 nationwide actions protesting this and another planned March 1 cutoff date where 10,000 others could be tossed out on the street. Survivors are now dispersed in 48 states and over 400 cities, he said.

Van Der Meer then conveyed some proposals from a recent trip to Mississippi where various independent social justice organizations and progressive individuals met to forge responses to U.S. government atrocities in the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi after Katrina.

Demands include the right to return, to organize, to a guaranteed income, to housing, to education, to healthcare and other social needs as well as access to funds and land with the basis being respecting the self-determination of Black and other nationally oppressed people’s in these affected areas.

A “People’s Reconstruction Plan” is operating and an international tribunal to hold accountable all those responsible for the wholesale crimes against the mostly Black people in the Gulf Coast, is planned for late August 2006, near the anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till.

Monica Moorehead, WWP Secretariat Member, Managing Editor of WW newspaper and Editor of Marxism, Reparations & the Black Freedom Struggle, gave an historical overview of the origins of Black History Month begun by Carter G. Woodson, an analysis of U.S. imperialism’s state and effects both internationally and within the U.S. currently, hailed the Bolivarian Revolution, the TWU strike and other advances by the working class and oppressed internationally in this period and declared: U.S. out of Iraq and Hands off Iran!

Moorehead concluded by reminding participants of the priority to struggle unceasingly against racism and national oppression and developing the most oppressed for leadership roles.

Advocating socialism as the only true solution to capitalism, Moorehead ended by inviting participants to WWP’s national conference scheduled for May in New York City.

After Moorehead spoke, Traynham recgonized a workers' delegation that came from a UNITE HERE Local 26 "Hotel Workers Rising” rallly where Danny Glover spoke. The union's action was one of several nation-wide events that day to support the struggle of hotel workers bargaining new contracts in 2006.

Long-time Puerto Rican independentista Alberto Barretto denounced the U.S.’ assassination of Filiberto Ojeda Rios and the most recent FBI terrorism raids in his homeland against primarily pro-independence forces while hailing the revolutionary developments in Latin America and the Caribbean. Barretto received rousing applause with his closing remarks “Long live Puerto Rico free and socialist. Independence without socialism is nothing.“

Yves Alcindor, leader of the New England Human Rights Organization for Haiti, recently returned from Haiti, described his participation in a delegation of independent election observers that oversaw the Haitian masses' successful presidential election of Rene Preval.

Mia Campbell of the Women’s Fightback Network and Politicin’ With the Sisters, raised the role of women and youth in the revolutionary struggle, and concluded by reading a self-penned poem, a tribute to Tupac Shakur and Stan ‘Tookie’ Williams murdered Dec. 13, 2005 by the state of California, for which she received a standing ovation.

-- 30 --

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Enough of the Katrina Spin
22 Feb 2006
Four months after Hurricane Katrina, analyses of data suggest that some widely reported assumptions about the storm's victims were incorrect.

For example, a comparison of locations where 874 bodies were recovered with U.S. census tract data indicates that the victims weren't disproportionately poor. Another database of 486 Katrina victims from Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, compiled by Knight Ridder, suggests they also weren't disproportionately African American.

The one group that was disproportionately affected by the storm appears to have been older adults. People 60 and older account for only about 15 percent of the population in the New Orleans area, but the Knight Ridder database found that 74 percent of the dead were 60 or older. Nearly half were older than 75. Many of those were at nursing homes and hospitals, where nearly 20 percent of the victims were recovered.

Lack of transportation was assumed to be a key reason that many people stayed behind and died, but at many addresses where the dead were found, their cars remained in their driveways, flood-ruined symbols of fatal miscalculation.

The separate Knight Ridder database of 486 Katrina victims was compiled from official information released by state and federal authorities and interviews with survivors of the dead. It catalogued deaths according to location, race, age, name and cause of death.

In that database, African Americans outnumbered whites 51 percent to 44 percent. In the area overall, African Americans outnumber whites 61 percent to 36 percent.

In Orleans Parish, 62 percent of known Katrina victims were African American, compared with 66 percent for the total parish population.

In St. Bernard Parish, 92 percent of the identified victims were white. Census figures show that 88 percent of parish residents identified themselves as white.

If one looks at the facts, the only folks who should be protesting are old folks, particularly women, who got left behing, forgotten or were to frail to get out by their own means. Protesting for old folks just isn't as sexy as playing the race cards, I guess.
token blacks
22 Feb 2006
Robert Traynham, Clemencia Lee, Tony Van Der Meer, Monica Moorehead, Alberto Barreto, Yves Alcindor, and Mia Campbell