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The Black Agenda is the Human Agenda

What the Mayor Laughed At

by PETER LINEBAUGH

Shirley Beckley stood to speak at the podium facing the City Councilors and their video camera.

It had been more than a month since an Ann Arbor police officer shot and killed a forty-year old woman, Aura Rosser. People in Ann Arbor, as with people across the nation, have begun to stir – mobilizing, marching, rallying, meeting, dieing-in, speaking up, and speaking out against the rising number of racist acts of state terror, the police assassinations.

At the podium where Shirley Beckley was to speak there was a little mechanical device ticking off the seconds of time in illuminated red numerals. Either the mayor or one of his subordinates controls this clock. Members of the public are permitted, if they sign up early enough in the day, a chance to speak for three minutes. One of the City councilors was recently heard to call us “the three minute people.” Well one of these ‘three minute people’ is Shirley Beckley, a seventy-one year old African American senior citizen, and she rose to speak. In view of the fact that three children had lost their mother to a police bullet she proposed that her three minutes to speak be kept in silent respect for these motherless children. Having said so, Shirley Beckley resumed her seat in the audience, and the mayor promptly adjusted the clock to move on to the next item on the agenda. What!?

“No, no, NO!” exclaimed the people, “We want three minutes for the children.”

“But she sat down,” answered the mayor flustered.

“Well, I’ll stand at the podium for her,” offered a younger woman making a gesture consistent with hizzoner’s logic. Here the mayor laughed (or was it a giggle?) and consented to three minutes of silence, “with the approval of Council.”

Earlier in the evening of Monday, 15 December, as we began to assemble for our march to City Council, Anthony Morgan delivered a disturbing and rousing speech. It challenged us and it encouraged us at the same time.   He said he had an agenda, a personal agenda, and that was “the Black agenda.” He wondered whether we did, and if so, could “we take this movement to the next level.”

Well, what was this? I thought to myself, the Black agenda, the next level. Marching around downtown Ann Arbor, stopping traffic and filling Main Street with our cries of ‘No Justice, No Peace,’ or ‘I Can’t Breathe,’ I wondered, what is the Black agenda?   During White History month (usually eleven out of the twelve) they don’t explain the Black agenda, it is bleached out of American, indeed of world, history.

Simply stated the Black agenda is, in the first place, the Human Agenda. Look at the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the...

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