• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

Spring Donation Drive

CounterPunch is a lifeboat piggybank-icon of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Black Radical Tradition in Canada

The Afro American Progressive Association (AAPA) was one of the first Black Power organizations in Canada. It was organized by Jose Garcia, Norman (Otis) Richmond and D. T. in Toronto in 1968. Their first public event was a commemoration of the assassination of Omowale El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X). The meeting took place on Bathurst Street (Toronto’s Lenox Avenue) the Home Service. Guest speakers were Jan Carew, Guyanese-born scholar/activist who later would write:” Ghosts in Our Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean” and Ted Watkins. A year before ancestors like Austin Clarke, Howard Matthews and others started the ball rolling.

Watkins (1941-1968) was an African born in America who played Canadian football. Watkins played wide-receiver for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Rough Riders. He won the Grey Cup with Hamilton in 1967. He previously played college football at the University of the Pacific in

Stockton, California. Watkins was killed in 1968 allegedly robbing a liquor store.

This is a direct quote from a Canadian daily: “STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) -Ted Watkins, Negro professional Canadian football player, and a leading Black Power advocate’ in Canada, was shot dead in an attempted liquor store holdup Sunday, police said.”

The Black Youth Organization (BYO), the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC), the Biko Rodney Malcolm Coalition (BRMC) and Black Live Matters spring from the AAPA. The AAPA’s newsletter was called Harambee (Swahili) for “Let’s pull together.” Harambee preceded “Contrast,” “Share,” “Pride” and the “Caribbean Camera.”

Chris Harris has been one of the few attempting to keep the untold history of the Black Radical Tradition and the AAPA alive. Harris’ article, “Canadian Black Power, Organic Intellectuals of Position in Toronto, 1967 – 1975” was published quietly. He is quoted extensively in David Austin’s 2014 Casa de las Americas Prize winning book on Caribbean Literature, in English or Creole, Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal.

Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report talks about how a Black miss-leadership is high jacking the African liberation struggle in the United States. Ditto for Canada.

The untold story of the Radical Black Tradition in Canada is beginning to unfold. A new autobiography, Burnley “Rocky” Jones Revolutionary by Jones and James W. St. G. Walker gets the ball rolling in this work. Jones gives credit to the AAPA in this volume for keeping the radical Black tradition alive in the Great White North.

Jones discusses how tribalism ruled during the late sixties and early Seventies in Toronto’s history. Africans born in Canada organized as Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Barbadians or Black Canadians. He talks about a rally that took place at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education on Bloor Street in Toronto.

Says Jones: “The chair was José Garcia, of the Afro American Progressive Association, a Marxist, and Black Nationalist organization in Toronto. Although that organization was Canadian, its name reflected the interaction with the States; there was continual movement back and forth across the border with Detroit and Buffalo, with Panthers and CORE and various Black Nationalist associations. Many of these people were also at the conference, in particular a group known as the Detroit Revolutionary Union movement, DRUM, extremely militant and connected to the Panthers.”

Jones was incorrect on the name of DRUM; DRUM is an acronym for the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement. The Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement was an organization of Black workers formed in May 1968 in the Chrysler Corporation‘s Dodge Main assembly plant in Detroit. While I was a co-founder of the AAPA I was also a member of DRUM, which later would blossom into the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.

The term Afro-American had nothing to do with Black America. It was inspired by Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). The group was a Pan-Africanist organization founded by (Omowale) Malik Shabazz in1964. The group was modeled on the Organization of African Unity, which had impressed Malik during his visit to Africa in April 1964. The purpose of the OAAU was to fight for the human rights of Africans in America and in the Western Hemisphere who speak English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento. One of the co-founders of the AAPA, Jose Garcia, could speak Papiamento, Dutch, Spanish, French and English better than me. We were internationalist from the get-go.

While we were moved by Malik, he was influenced by a person who if imperialism has anything to do with it will be written out of history – Carlos A. Cooks. Cooks was a Caribbean man who used the term African-American to unite Africans in the West. He was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His parents were from the nearby island of St. Martin. Robert Acemendeces Harris, author of Carlos Cooks and Black Nationalism, pointed out: “It was Carlos Cooks who first defined the difference between the terms Black and/or African as opposed to “Negro” and fought to have the latter word abrogated as a racial classification. You can even ask Richard Moore, a foundation member of the African Blood Brotherhood (and author of The Word Negro And Its Evil Use) about this. Or you can read the documentation in Black Nationalism: a Search for Identity in America by Prof. E. U. Essien-Udom of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

I was blessed to have heard Richard B. Moore speak in Montreal in 1967 and met and work with Elombe Brath, a disciple of Cooks. Moore spoke at a Black community meeting that I attended during Expo 67. When I first went to Detroit and met General Gordon Baker Jr. I found a copy of Brath’s comic book “Color Them Colored” where he ridiculed everyone from Harry Belafonte to Malcolm X for not being “Black” enough. Baker explained to me how he had for a brief moment associated with Cooks African Nationalist Pioneer Movement.

There are aspects of Cooks philosophy I united 1000 percent behind. At their convention called in 1959 the ANPM called for the abrogation of the word Negro as the official racial classification of black people and to replace the term with “African” when speaking of land origin, heritage and national identity (irrespective of birthplace ) and the proud usage of “black” when dealing with color (in spite of complexion).

There are others aspects of his views that I totally disagree with. I have always united with Huey P. Newton’s statement, ”Blackness is necessary, but not sufficient.” I was never down with Cooks’ anti-communism. When Fidel Castro visited Harlem, Cooks refused to meet him. Malik took the opposite view.

Brath is quoted in Rosemari Mealy’s book, Fidel & Malcolm X: Memories of a Meeting. Says Brath, “While Malcolm as an individual was developing as an anti-imperialist champion, he boldly met with Premier Fidel Castro when the Cuban leader stayed at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, arguing a class analysis in non-Marxist terms, that is, the field Negro versus the house Negro.

Cooks however, took a completely different position. U. Essien-Udom, a Nigerian who wrote Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America, published in the early 1960s, discussed Cooks and Malik. Udom points out: “Nearly all of the present-day black nationalist groups are anti-communist. Recently, Mr. Carlos Cooks (African Nationalist Pioneering Movement) in a 4th of July speech in Harlem self-righteously explained how in the Thirties they (the nationalists) were having street fights with the communists and they do not welcome ‘the regime of Dr. Fidel Castro’s Cuba.’”

“Instead, Mr. Cooks expressed some admiration for ex-President Bastisa. He said that under Batista Negroes had a “fair deal” in Cuba and that Premier Castro’s regime was a returning to “white supremacy.” For a brief moment in my history I did have a problem with Cuba. This was because of the anti- communism propaganda we were taught from the womb to the tomb in the USA where I was born.

For a brief moment I supported Jonas Savimbi‘s The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Founded in 1966, UNITA fought alongside the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the Angolan War for Independence (1961 – 1975) and then against the MPLA in the ensuing civil war1975–2002). UNITA received military aid from the imperialist USA and apartheid South Africa while the MPLA received support from the Soviet Union and other members of the Socialist block at that time. We apologize to Africa for this error in judgment.

In the 21st Century Africa, Africans and the oppressed generally must be anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and anti-sexist and be for socialism — period. As Fred Hampton used to say, “If you are afraid of socialism you are afraid of yourself.”

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
Paul Street
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Rob Urie
Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline
Ajamu Baraka
2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!
Andrew Levine
Springtime for Biden and Democrats
Richard Moser
The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos
Ron Jacobs
Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?
Eric Draitser
Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell
Peter Bolton
The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated
Peter Lackowski
Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective
Karl Grossman
Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?
Howie Hawkins
Does the Climate Movement Really Mean What It Says?
Gary Leupp
Bolton and the Road to the War He Wants
Jill Richardson
Climate Change was No Accident
Josh Hoxie
Debunking Myths About Wealth and Race
David Barsamian
Iran Notes
David Mattson
Social Carrying Capacity Politspeak Bamboozle
Christopher Brauchli
The Pompeo Smirk
Louis Proyect
Trotsky, Bukharin and the Eco-Modernists
Martha Burk
Will Burning at the Stake Come Next?
John W. Whitehead
The Deadly Perils of Traffic Stops in America
Binoy Kampmark
The Christchurch Pledge and a Regulated Internet
David Rosen
Florida’s Sex Wars: the Battle to Decriminalize Sex Work
Ralph Nader
Trump: Importing Dangerous Medicines and Food and Keeping Consumers in the Dark
Brett Haverstick
America’s Roadless Rules are Not Protecting Public Wildlands From Development
Alan Macleod
Purity Tests Can be a Good Thing
Binoy Kampmark
Modern Merchants of Death: the NSO Group, Spyware and Human Rights
Kim C. Domenico
Anarchism & Reconciliation, Part II
Peter LaVenia
Game of Thrones and the Truth About Class (Spoiler Warning)
Manuel E. Yepe
The Options Trump Puts on the Table
Renee Parsons
The Pompeo/Bolton Tag Team
David Swanson
Where Lyme Disease Came From and Why It Eludes Treatment
Cesar Chelala
Lowering Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Problems are Deeper than “Capitalism” (and “Socialism” Alone Can’t Solve Them)
Chris Zinda
Delegislating Wilderness
Robert Koehler
War’s Unanswered Questions
Robert P. Alvarez
Let Prison Inmates Vote
Barbara Nimri Aziz
A Novel We Can All Relate To
David Yearsley
Carmen’s Mother’s Day Lessons
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ziya Tong’s “The Reality Bubble”
Elliot Sperber
Pharaoh’s Dream
Elizabeth Keyes
Somewhere Beyond Corporate Media Yemenis Die
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail