From anger to action: Building the movement for Black liberation A statement on the shootings in Dallas and struggle against police crimes

By the Joint Nationalities Commission of Freedom Road Socialist Organization

The great African American writer Langston Hughes penned the famous poem Harlem:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore —
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over —
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

On Thursday, July 7 the dream deferred exploded in Dallas, Texas when a sniper ambushed Dallas police, shooting 12 people and killing five police.

The anger that led to this shooting was building for years if not generations, as African Americans have been lynched by KKK and murdered by police. Just days before, two more African Americans were shot and killed by police. Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with two white police officers pinning him down and Philando Castile in Minnesota, who was shot and killed in his car in front of his girlfriend and her daughter.

The police continued their practice of cover-up by seizing private security camera video. Even the few police who do get charged are getting off, as in the case of the Baltimore police who were involved in the death of Freddie Gray. The cover-up extends to district attorneys and mayors, as in the case of Chicago’s Laquan McDonald.

But understanding the anger does not mean agreeing with the action.

The continued killing of Black people, the cover-ups and the injustice of the courts shows that the whole system is at fault. Nothing less than a revolution can end the oppression of African Americans and other oppressed nationalities including Chicanos, Mexicanos, and Latinos, Asian and Arab Americans and indigenous peoples.

We are not talking about Bernie Sanders’ political revolution through the ballot box. We are talking about organizing the masses of people into the streets to demand change. The Civil Rights/Black Liberation movement of the 1950s and 1960s was not a result of a few individuals, or even small groups of people. The overthrow of Jim Crow segregation in the South and of legal segregation throughout the country was a result of the struggle of millions upon millions of African Americans and their supporters who fought for equality. From the Woolworth lunch counter sit-in to blocking the streets, the Civil Rights movement combined mass protests with militant civil disobedience.

Today’s movement for Black lives is standing on the shoulders of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation movement. Mass protests along with new forms of civil disobedience with the slogan of “Shut it down!” have shaken the system to the point where elected officials are forced to admit that race is a factor and even put killer cops on trial. But more, much more, remains to be done. Killer cops need to be convicted and jailed, not set free. Police need to be under community control, not overseen by ‘police review boards’ chosen by the politicians and without enforcement authority are but another way to cover up police crimes.

Social media is one good way to put out a call for action. But successful protests need speakers and a program to educate, inspire, and unite people for action. Successful protests need a plan of action, security to deal with those who would disrupt the protest, legal aid, especially if civil disobedience is planned, and much more, which can only be provided with organizers with ‘boots on the ground.’ A successful mass movement needs to be organized, with militant, grassroots organizations based in the working class and rooted in the community playing an important role.

Our roots as an organization go back to the mass movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Young activists from campuses and oppressed nationality (African American, Asian American and Chicano/Latino) communities committed themselves to the struggle. Our path has been long and tortuous, with many lessons learned along the way. But we are still standing proud, and invite all those whose anger has been fanned by the racist oppression of the government to turn their anger into action: to commit themselves to political organizing, to take working class jobs, to study the science of revolution, Marxism-Leninism, and to join us in building a revolutionary party to fight for socialism.

Joint Nationalities Commission, Freedom Road Socialist Organization