Tag Archives: Assata Shakur

Bravo Bethune-Cookman Graduates: Why Black America Must Acknowledge the Protest of Betsy Devos’ Commencement Address

I must be honest and say that I realize that the disapproving gaze that I cast upon this latest generation of African-American collegians is closely tied to my getting older and hopefully a bit wiser. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see the path to black liberation clearer than I did a decade ago.

Unfortunately for my sanity, it is experience gained through an often emotionally difficult trial-and-error process that has endowed me with this pristine view of American racial matters and an accessible path to “the liberation and salvation of the black nation.” Predictably, the latest cadre of African-American collegians who have not traveled this path has a much cloudier and less focused view of the issues and maladies facing our community. I feel comfortable in saying that this unfortunate reality of our students not “getting it” is the bane of more than a few African-American professors existence. The recent events at the venerable Bethune-Cookman University have once again caused me to pause my often harsh criticism of this latest generation of African-American collegians.

In case you missed it, for some inexplicable reason Bethune-Cookman University President Edison Jackson provided U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos the esteemed honor of delivering the 2017 commencement address. To President Jackson’s horror, the graduating seniors, buoyed by a wide-array of alumni who disapproved of DeVos’ selection as commencement speaker, not only shouted “Liar!” toward the Secretary of Education but also stood and turned their backs as she delivered her address.

As a frequent critic of young black collegians, I must publicly state that I have never been prouder of our young people than at this moment. Via their beautifully timed public protest, the recent graduates of Bethune-Cookman University have displayed courage not seen within the African-American Freedom Struggle since Angela Davis battled the state of California or Assata Shakur escaped the clutches of America and found refuge in Cuba. I pray that the courage to “speak truth to power” regardless of the setting displayed by the Bethune-Cookman graduates becomes the latest “trend” among African-American collegians.

So I take this moment to publicly applaud you for your political astuteness and courage to send a resounding message regarding what is not permissible in our centers of higher education. I now hope that more will follow your lead.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III


I am confident that this will sound peculiar to most; however, it nevertheless needs to be said. One of the most visible signs that the political priorities of white progressives have altered dramatically in regards to the fight for racial equality is their declining relationship with African-American groups agitating for “the liberation and salvation of the Black nation.”

If the recent Presidential election did not definitively prove that the “White Left” has abandoned their natural political terrain, their bpp-pfpgradual drift from a principled position regarding racial reconciliation definitively proves this point. As a historian who has dedicated his life to the study of American Race Relations, it is evident to me that the disappearance of the “White Left’s” voluminous presence in the struggle for racial equality is extremely disappointing. The current absence of a definitive white radical presence in the fight against this nation’s standard racial issues speaks volumes about shifting political priorities among white Leftists. In fact, their silence in the face of ever-increasing racial disparities ‘speaks’ volumes.

As a student of American race relations, I found it startling to witness increased intra-movement ethnic conflict among so-called black and white progressives. It appears that the racial cooperation that undergirded sixties activism is a relic of the past. Long gone are mutually beneficial relationships between groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Peace and Freedom Party whose primary desire was bringing power to the people.

Unfortunately, such progressivism has yielded to a contemporary activist scene whose absence of historical literacy fuels a shockingly DALLAS PANTHERS 2unrefined xenophobic impulse that encourages their public articulation of political positions that are outrageously antagonistic to potential coalition partners. Things have gotten so bad among today’s descendants of white radicalism and the Black Power era that they have publicly vowed never to work with one another. This shocking position is counter-productive considering that they both realize that they are often facing the same enemy who gleefully exploits progressives’ disorganization to further their exploitation of America’s poor and working-class.

What an unfortunate moment in time that we exist within.

Despite the unwise posture of non-cooperation that so many Black Nationalist leaders and so-called white progressive groups have chosen, the historical record regarding the path to racial equality is evident; it takes black and white progressives alike to move this nation closer to racial justice.

A recent New Black Panther Party meeting provided voluminous clarity regarding the state of non-cooperation among radicals. I noticed that there was not a single white progressive present. I am certain that white radicals absence had as much to do with their shifting political priorities as it did with the bitter race-based hatred spewed from a roster of race-baiting orators featured at this event. The tone and tenor of the speeches blared that whites were neither welcome nor needed in either this latest expression of Black Nationalist politics or the achievement of racial equality.

I intently listened as these ‘brothers and sisters’ decked out in paramilitary gear ranted against whites via a host of colorful descriptors that would have shamed and embarrassed original Panther leaders such as Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, Bobby Seale, and Assata Shakur.

I left this event with a gnawing feeling that every segment of today’s ‘Left’ is woefully ignorant of the coalition building that has always been crucial to progress on America’s racial frontier. The alluded to bpp-sdshistorical illiteracy not only compromises the activism of today’s leftists but also emboldens and strengthens their opponents. There is no doubt that this latest reiteration of the Black Panther Party is unaware of the original Panthers working relationship with white radical groups such as the Peace and Freedom Party and Students for a Democratic Society for logical mutually-beneficial reasons. Unfortunately, their ignorance regarding the utility of coalitions and alliances with those fighting against the same enemy curtails their activist impulses and delays the achievement of all goals. I am left wondering, are black and white ‘Leftists’ fighting for the same goals anymore? It is sad that such a question has to be presented, and even more disappointing that I cannot offer a definitive answer to this mundane question.

Fight the Power

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016

#CommuteAssata’sSentence: How Obama Could REALLY Exact Revenge Upon Those Whites Who Have Repeatedly Disrespected His Presidency

There is most certainly no doubt that the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama has been the most contentious and aggravating period that this nation has ever seen. Never before have we seen a President so embattled by his opponents who publicly stated that they would resist each effort and legislative measure that he put forth, even if his actions were aimed at uplifting the nation out of whatever crisis it was presently facing.

Let’s face facts, the criticism that President Obama has been at times maddening for his supporters and grossly unfair as even a blindassata 1 man could see that it was emanating from one of the most grotesque forms of racial hatred that the world has ever seen. Even I laughed at angered whites’ contention that Obama had in fact increased racial animosity in America during his Presidential term; I found this assertion to be hilarious because it was at least partially true in the following manner. The fact that an African-American man was occupying the Oval Office increased what may have been insignificant levels of always present racial bias and animosity to a frenetic state within American whites who have been unable to find a space of psychological comfort during the Obama Presidency.

And to his credit, this regal, diplomatic, slow to anger President has taken all of the abuse and insults that a significant portion of white America has aimed at not only himself, but also his wife and children, as if it never occurred.

Although I am certain that he would never admit to this, there has to be some part of Obama that wants to exact some form of revenge upon his boisterous critics that would allow him to ride off into the sunset with a smile upon his face, if he did not have such feelings, he would not be of the human race.

It was this desire for some form of revenge upon what appears to be a nation of disrespectful whites and the fact that President Obama has been commuting unfair sentences at a historic rate — our President has granted clemency to more individuals during his time in the oval office than were issued over the past half-century — that the perfect revenge occurred to me. If President Obama REALLY wants to psychologically devastate whites, the path to such is relatively simple, commute the sentence of former Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur.

When one considers the words of White House counsel Neil Eggleston that “I expect the president will continue to grant clemency in a historic and inspiring fashion” there is an opportunity that this could occur.

Unbeknownst to the vast majority of African-Americans and to the chagrin of American law enforcement agencies, Cuban President assata 2Fidel Castro granted former Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and Black Liberation Army leader Assata Shakur political asylum over thirty-years ago, she has been in Cuba ever since. To Castro’s credit, he has offered similar protection to many African-American political activists such as: Robert F. Williams, Huey P. Newton, William Lee Brent and Eldridge Cleaver. Despite the derisive statements that have been habitually propagated to the American public about the Cuban “dictator”, he has been steadfastly committed to offering refuge to African-Americans who were obviously being unjustly persecuted by the American judicial system. From American politicians and law enforcement officials perspective, the Cuban leader’s granting of a safe haven for African-American activists being persecuted for no other reason than their resistance to white world supremacy serves as a permanent inexcusable blemish on his, and his nation’s, record.

Make no mistake about it; the pursuit of Assata Shakur undoubtedly displays the indomitable will of American law enforcement officials and agencies at Federal, State, and local levels. I am certain that you are wondering why the United States Government has placed a sixty-seven year old grandmother on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

The answer to the above question revolves around a shootout between members of the Black Liberation Army and the New Jersey State Highway Patrol on May 2, 1973. Although there are conflicting stories regarding what occurred during the altercation, there are several things that are factual and therefore unchanging. Facts state that a New Jersey State Trooper stopped a vehicle carrying three members of the Black Liberation Army, Assata Shakur was a passenger in this vehicle and wanted by law enforcement agencies for her determination to secure the liberation and salvation of her people, a dedication that led to her assuming a prominent role in the Black Power movement. Law enforcement agencies alleged that Assata was “the mother hen who kept them all shooting.” Evidence gathered from not only the scene, but also the hospital that Shakur was taken to after being shot by a New Jersey State Trooper, definitively prove several things: (a) she had not fired a weapon that night, (b) she had been shot while sitting in the vehicle that she was traveling in, (c) she was shot with her hands up, and (d) she was partially paralyzed along one side of her body as a result of nerve damage caused by the trooper’s bullets. However, little of that mattered as the State of New Jersey decided that Assata Shakur must pay for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

Further aggravating American law enforcement agencies is not only the swell of support Assata Shakur received while she stood trial for the aforementioned incident, but also her subsequent escape from a maximum security facility after a murder conviction. Making matters worse for law enforcement officials was the reality that they were never able to re-capture Assata during the five years between her harrowing prison escape and her unceremonious arrival in Cuba.

This failure has served as a consistent irritant to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies. The greatest indicator that American law enforcement agencies, as well as this nation’s elected officials, are still riled by Assata Shakur’s escape has been their repeated attempts to recapture Shakur. For example,

  • In 1998, the United States House of Representatives passed Concurrent Resolution 254 that requested that the Cuban Castro-led Government expeditiously return Assata Shakur to America. The measure passed with a 371 (yea) – 0 (Nay) vote.
  • In the same year, the United States Senate passed the same piece of legislation, Concurrent Resolution 254, by a unanimous vote.
  • In 2005, the United States Department of Justice entered the fray in a major way when they increased an already hefty award for Assata Shakurs capture to $1,000,000.00
  • In 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that was headed by the tyrannical J. Edgar Hoover and his Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) when the pursuit of Shakur began, not only placed Assata on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, but also raised the bounty on her head to $2,000,000.00. The FBI now characterizes Shakur as a ‘domestic terrorist.’

I was not surprised at former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s attempts to not only set a political tone and tenor that he hopes would lead to the capture of Assata Shakur, but also the immoral manner in which he attempts to hold the future of American/Cuban relations hostage. Christie went so far as to send a letter to President Obama demanding that Assata Shakurs return by the Cuban government must be a pre-requisite to any diplomatic relations. Put simply, if the Cuban government does not surrender a 67 year old Assata Shakur, it will continue in its current status as a rogue nation being greatly affected by U.S. economic embargoes.

Christie writes to President Obama, “I do not share your view that restoring diplomatic relations without a clear commitment from the Cuban government of the steps they will take to reverse decades of human rights violations will result in a better and more just Cuba for its people…there is an opportunity for Cuba and its government to show the American people it is serious about change…I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard (Assata Shakur) before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government.”

Put simply, Governor Christie, and those that he represents are publicly pledging their continued commitment to capturing Assata Shakur ‘by any means necessary.’ Unfortunately for Christie, he fails to realize that the capture and incarceration of Assata Shakur will be resisted by politicized African-Americans for reasons that are too numerous to be listed here.

However, the irony of the self-righteous manner that white elected officials and law enforcement officers will go to exact revenge upon those they feel have done them wrong is most certainly not ASSATA 5accessible to all American protesters. One only needs to examine the voluminous intolerance that protesters repeatedly experience during their peaceful protests of the murders of Black people in American streets for verification of the inconsistent application of theoretical principles such as freedom of speech that this nation hangs its hat upon. Unfortunately for American law enforcement agencies, their credibility has been compromised to the point that even law abiding citizens have begun to view their actions as little more than political ploys designed to curb dissent.

So at this moment, I think that it is imperative that our community uses every means available to encourage President Obama to strike a significant blow for the African-American community by commuting or doing everything in his power to liberate Assata Shakur. Trust me when I say this, it would be a reasonable response to the horrific treatment that whites have unleashed on President Obama throughout his entire tenure in the White House. When one considers that revenge is a dish best served cold, I believe that forty-three years is a sufficient period to allow a dish to cool.

Dan Freeman

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016


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 DAUGHTERS OF ASSATAmajor 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 Black 3it 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 Black 2matter 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 ASSATA 5courage 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.



“The most disrespected person in America

is the Black woman, the most unprotected

person in America is the Black woman.

The most neglected person in America

is the Black woman.”

—– Malcolm X —–


Let’s face facts! For the majority of the nation, including a good portion of our own community, they are TOO Black, TOO Loud, TOO Lascivious, and TOO Ignorant to be cared about. A slanted reading of History tells their tale of being little more than a big butt or someone to visit when you want some wild bestial sexual escapade; they are best represented by the personas of video vixens that are created in the patriarchal imagination of some cinematographer. Many women come to mind, women such as: Karrine “Superhead” Steffans, Amber Rose, Esther Baxter, Keyshia Dior, Melyssa Ford, Black Chyna and Draya Michele.

I speak of the Black woman, a group that regardless of their individual academic or vixen3professional accomplishments are never viewed as ‘anything’ higher than an exotic animal with a big butt; unfortunately, too many of their own, meaning African-American men also view them in this unfavorable light.

I can think of no other logical reason that Black America has ignored the trial of Daniel Holtzclaw.

I must admit that I was also unaware of who Daniel Holtzclaw, 28, was until I viewed some random news show such as 60 Minutes or 20/20. I was shocked to learn that Hotzclaw, a law enforcement officer and former collegiate football player with serious aspirations of making it to the National Football League, had raped and/or sodomized thirteen Oklahoma holtzclaw1City African-American women while patrolling the African-American community in the period between February – June 2014. Holtzclaw is currently facing 36 counts of rape, sexual battery, and forcible oral sodomy of 13 Black women whose ages range from 17 to 54.

One would think that such activities from a law enforcement officer who is supposed to “Serve & Protect” law-abiding citizens would be the lead story for months; particularly during this moment where officers’ authority is scrutinized on a daily basis. However, there was nary a peep regarding Holtzclaw’s activities from anyone other than the victims, many of whom were hesitant to come forward.

Although it is difficult to admit, Black America, including African-American women, has quite simply been too busy with other pressing racial matters — Ferguson, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Mizzou, Bill Cosby — to pay much attention to a serial rapist who victimized droves of African-American women.

As they have been known to do, African-American women apparently made the conscious decision to place their victimization on the back-burner and busied themselves protecting and uplifting their men and their beloved community. One of the greatest examples of such is the post-slavery decision to make lynching, instead of the more common rape/sexual assault that African-American women were subjected to, the single-greatest issue facing Blacks in the late-19th Century and early 20th Century.

African-American women have commonly operated from a logical perspective that if the lot of Black men improved, then they would also be taken care of. Unfortunately for African-American women, this expected reciprocity remains undelivered to this very day. Many African-American men behave as if their ‘sisters’ are little more than a survival tool that can be used when needed and discarded when of no longer utility.

In light of this dubious history, it is unsurprising that the African-American community, including self-sacrificing Black holtzclawwomen, have no idea of who Daniel Holtzclaw is, let alone the horrific crimes he committed. There have been no hashtags, social media campaigns, or columns written to propagate this matter. We, meaning the entire African-American community, have remained silent.

Make no mistake about it, this silence is derived from the fact that we, meaning every segment of the African-American community, do not cherish and value Black women the Assataway that we should. Although we know that they are our mother’s, sisters, aunt’s, girlfriends, daughters, and wives, it appears that for a wide-swath of Black males they have come to believe that Karrine ‘Superhead’ Steffans is a more apt representation of the Black woman than Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, or Assata Shakur.

Although the current climate of activism that we see occurring in the African-American community is long overdue, there is a tendency to focus upon certain types of injustice over others. Unfortunately for African-American women, it appears that they are once again at the back of the bus when it comes to our community rallying around issues affecting them and as they have been known to do, they suffer in silence and take one for the team. It appears that the only exception to this rule is if an African-American woman has been killed by a law enforcement officer who happens to be white.

I intuitively desire to resist Malcolm X’s admonishment that “the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” However, I can not truthfully say that there is a major part of me that knows he is speaking the unadulterated truth. And for that, I am ashamed of the Black men who have consciously chosen to continue one of our communities most unfortunate traditions, the denigration and disrespect of our mother’s, sisters, aunt’s, girlfriends, daughters, and wives.

James Thomas Jones III