April 18, 2013

PotW: To The Memory Of Albert Einstein


by Leibel Bergman

The thunderbolt within the grain of sand--
This is the power that the human hand
Has wrested from our ignorance and fear,
This climax of our yet few thousand years
Of work and strife. This is the promised land
We touch across the ocean of our tears.

How dark the night that was our painful past,
How bright the morning that we see at last,
How slight the bonds that hold us from the shore,
The curse of greed, the evil deeps of war;
These too will vanish though they yet hang fast,
The thief, the slayer, the inquisitor.

All these shall pass: yes, we shall end the blight
Of ignorance, for once for all, the fright
Of children, and the power of the lie,
The hunger, and the long despairing sigh.
We rout our darkness with the speed of light,
Set with our hand a candle in the sky.


Will We Remember?
Chicago, 1982

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April 13, 2013

"Free The Land!"
Chokwe Lumumba addresses 30th annual Black Workers for Justice MLK Banquet

Award recipients at BWFJ 30th Annual "MLK Support for Labor Banquet
This year, Black Workers for Justice held their 30th Annual Martin Luther King Support for Labor Banquet. This historic dinner actually represents more than three decades of activism. BWfJ began as the result of a battle initiated by Black women workers at a K-Mart in Rocky Mount, NC in 1981. Your correspondent has been to more than a few of BWfJ's MLK dinners over the years, but this is the first time I've attended two years in a row.

While last year's banquet was a serious  "must attend" affair for a People's Organization for Progress member such as myself (POP's chairman, Lawrence Hamm was the 2012 keynote speaker), the event this year was even more exciting. The spirited response of the crowd to BWfJ's  exhilarating Fruit of Labor singing ensemble was palpable. 
Ajamu Dillahunt, founding member and elder of BWFJ, grooves to the Fruit of Labor's excellent performance
While last year's rousing keynote by POP's Larry Hamm certainly had the crowd on their feet, Jackson, Mississippi Mayoral Candidate and City Councilmember Chokwe Lumumba moved the attendees to "love offerings" in support of his candidacy. But the most impressive aspect of the 2013 BWfJ banquet was the level of youth participation. The Durham, NC based organization People's Durham (a new organization similar to POP in its campaigns and goals, click on  the link People's Durham for more information), was represented by a very youthful contingent of members. People's Durham, along with Larsene Taylor and longtime activist Jim Campbell were recipients of BWfJ Self-Determination Awards (click the link Black Workers for Justice 2013 MLK Dinner to view three pages of additional photos by labor photographer, and friend of the Fire on the Mountain blog page, Jon Levine).

The thrilling spirit of this exciting event was evident in poetry and dance as well as the singing of the Fruit of Labor and others. Erin Byrd read an excellent poem and Laprince Smith led the gathering in singing the Black National Anthem (Lift Every Voice and Sing).
Jackson, MS City Councilman, and Mayoral Candidate, Chokwe Lumumba was the Keynote Speaker.
The truly moving presentation by brother Chokwe Lumumba was informed by his years of activism, both in Jackson, MS and throughout the Black Belt South, as well as the entire US.

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April 10, 2013

Poem of the Month: Democratic Womanism


Alice Walker

You ask me why I smile
 when you tell me you intend
 in the coming national elections
 to hold your nose
 and vote for the lesser of two evils.
 There are more than two evils out there,
 is one reason I smile.
 Another is that our old buddy Nostradamus
 comes to mind, with his fearful
 400 year old prophecy: that our world
 and theirs too
 (our "enemies" – lots of kids included there)
 will end (by nuclear nakba or holocaust)
 in our lifetime. Which makes the idea of elections
 and the billions of dollars wasted on them
 somewhat fatuous.
 A Southerner of Color,
 my people held the vote
 very dear
 while others, for centuries,
 merely appeared to play
 with it.
 One thing I can assure
 you of is this:
 I will never betray such pure hearts
 by voting for evil
 even if it were microscopic
 which, as you can see in any newscast
 no matter the slant,
 it is not.
 I want something else;
 a different system
 One not seen
 on this earth
 for thousands of years. If ever.
 Democratic Womanism.
 Notice how this word has "man" right in the middle of it?
 That’s one reason I like it. He is right there, front and center. But he is surrounded.
 I want to vote and work for a way of life
 that honors the feminine;
 a way that acknowledges
 the theft of the wisdom
 female and dark Mother leadership
 might have provided our spaceship
 all along.
 I am not thinking
 of a talking head
 kind of gal:
 happy to be mixing
 it up
 with the baddest
 bad boys
 on the planet
 her eyes a slit
 her mouth a zipper.
 No, I am speaking of true
 regime change.
 Where women rise
 to take their place
 en masse
 at the helm
 of earth’s frail and failing ship;
 where each thousand years
 of our silence
 is examined
 with regret,
 and the cruel manner in which our values
 of compassion and kindness
 have been ridiculed
 and suppressed
 brought to bear on the disaster
 of the present time.
 The past must be examined closely, I believe, before we can leave
 it there.
 I am thinking of Democratic, and, perhaps
 Socialist, Womanism.
 For who else knows so deeply
 how to share but Mothers
 and Grandmothers? Big sisters
 and Aunts?
 To love
 and adore
 both female and male?
 Not to mention those in between.
 To work at keeping
 the entire community
 fed, educated
 and safe?
 Democratic womanism,
 Democratic Socialist
 would have as its icons
 such fierce warriors
 for good as
 Vandana Shiva
 Aung San Suu Kyi,
 Wangari Maathai
 Harriet Tubman
 Yoko Ono
 Frida Kahlo
 Angela Davis
 & Barbara Lee:
 With new ones always rising, wherever you look.

[This pretty much speaks for itself. Thanks to Meizhu Lui for submitting it.]

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April 4, 2013

Poem of the Week: jewels of thought (for gil scott-heron)

jewels of thought (for gil scott-heron)

Ras Moshe

to all the times i saw you/floating/passing through the streets
all bones and clothes
eyes ablaze
a lightening rod for new york elements
but quite ready to put some disrespectful child in check with wisdom at any given time/we still laugh with you
i actually saw your pain when you realized that this revolution is televised after all/dashikis and pharaoh's records collecting dust in the closets of the defeated
i hope you can see that some of us took heed to your etchings in red/the point of it all/made very clear/these earthly battles fought

but, what if there's only a battle here on earth and not in the star trek hereafter? ah yes..that's what you were saying after all.
we rode the no. 2 train together and that was like a lifetime of school for me/class in session/the end of concession
we be your graduates/in jazz splendor


[Ras Moshe is  a NYC-based jazz musician and composer. A good interview with him is here. If you are in the New York area his gigs at the Brecht Forum are well worth catching. This appreciation of Gil Scott-Heron is based on actual experience, and addresses in passing what the British Marxist historian Christopher Hill called "The Experience of Defeat." ]

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