If we were being truthful about the voluminous ever-present issues between older African-Americans and those generations who have followed, we would term the conflict, generational warfare. A major aspect of that conflict for Black activists, at least from the perspective of older African-American activists, is that younger African-Americans have not only refused to listen, but also implement any of the things that we have taught them.
It is almost a right of passage for young activists to feel the wrath of veteran activists for what they don’t know and what they aren’t doing; never-mind the reality that veteran activists failed to effectively implement the playbook that they are now attempting to give succeeding generations for a host of reasons.
Anyone within an activist organization can tell you that the disdain, if not outright hatred, directed at young activists by the elders are plentiful and heavy; at times it appears if veteran activists hate this next generation more than they hate their oppressor.
I have always thought that if the condemnation for getting it wrong were heavy-handed, well then the celebration for getting it right needs to be acknowledged not only publicly, but also gloriously. So it is with that intention that I am publicly acknowledging and celebrating groups such as Black Youth Project 100, Assata’s Daughters and Black Lives Matter Chicago for their undeniable success in orchestrating the removal of Chicago’s Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez from office. Shockingly, Alvarez, who held an early lead on opponent Kim Foxx, lost the highly contested election by a 2-to-1 margin.
It was Alvarez who refused to move quickly in indicting a Chicago Police Officer for the murder of Laquan McDonald. A dashcam video captured Officer Van Dyke shooting a retreating Laquan McDonald 16 times in a Chicago street; the officer continued to shoot McDonald even after he had fallen to the pavement as a result of his initial shots.
Alvarez and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel were taken to task for the ‘Windy City’s’ handling of the case. To the chagrin of Black Chicago, the State’s Attorney waited over a year to indict the officer; angered Black Chicagoans’ called for the resignation of not only the State’s Attorney, but also the Mayor’s.
Instead of resigning and bowing out gracefully, Alvarez did what so many elected officials before her have done, she defiantly sought re-election and thereby issued a significant challenge to Black Chicago.
I am ecstatic that it was African-American youth, the most maligned and vilified of all American populations who not only rose to the challenge by not only creating a strategy to address this matter via the political system, but also executed their strategy impeccably. Making it even more impressive was the manner in which the alluded to youth let it be known that it was them who booted Alvarez from office.
Chicago-based activist group Assata’s Daughters shared the following.
“Black youth kicked Anita Alvarez out of office. Just a month ago, Anita Alvarez was winning in the polls. Communities who refuse to be killed and jailed and abused without any chance at justice refused to allow that to happen. We did this for Laquan.”
The removal of Anita Alvarez by Black youth nonetheless is a monumental moment that reminds me of the Black Power Era and the infamous Black Panther Party for Self-Defense slogan of “All Power to the People.” I could not be prouder of these young activists for not only planning a strategy, but also having the courage to execute their plan. It is such courage and political acumen that the African-American community desperately needs.
So I salute young Black activists with a Revolutionary salute and hope that they now understand why my generation has been so critical of them in previous moments; because we knew that you had it in you and were capable of leading a new movement that we woefully failed at.
Great job!!!!!! It is with extreme reverence that I celebrate your courage, strength, intelligence, and political skill as they are the fruition of thousands of years of prayer. You are the one’s that we have been impatiently waiting to arrive.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
©Manhod, Race and Culture 2016.