african revolutionary

Dear America,

As a child I was taught to memorize a great lie

Reciting it daily makes a young mind comply

Decorated in its colors, I faced your flag hoisted high.

And decorated history. Heroes who died for you and I.

Spread your corrupt, dishonest poison in the name of Jesus Christ.

But restless seekers of truth can’t be kept frozen still in time.

And knowledge shining through, your blinding clouds can’t block the sky.

Your system is a joke, my people start to realize,

We carry you on our backs, like docile horses built to ride.

And when your hitmen shoot us down, you turn a blind eye.

Your liberty, justice and equality, are only yours by design.

But I’m a child of a greater system and I will fight for what is mine.

Revolutionary Slave Masquerader from Haiti, photograph by Phyllis Galembo

“The tools of modern revolutions, a gun and a phone, are held by a masked youth. Other parts of his hellish carnival attire connect to Haiti’s past. To symbolize the suffering of slaves, he’s wrapped in a rope, his skin is glazed in charcoal and molasses—an inexpensive, easy-to-make masquerade worn since colonial times.”

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Historic debate between James Baldwin v. William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University on the question: “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?”

‘Fight The Layoffs / Auto Workers March & Rally, Newark, New Jersey, [early 1970s]. Event co-sponsored by Black Liberation organizations such the Congress of Afrikan People, Black Panther Party, and February 1st Student Movement, along with ‘new communist movement’ organizations such as Revolutionary Union and October League.

Young, Black, Unafraid

James Hutton (1950–1968)

At the age of sixteen, Robert James (Bobby) Hutton was the first recruit of the Black Panther Party. He participated in the march on the California State Capitol in 1967, and his death in 1968 became a rallying cry for the Black Panther movement. A literacy campaign was later started in his honor.

Bobby Hutton was born on April 21, 1950, in Jefferson County, the son of John D. Hutton and Dolly Mae Mitchner-Hutton. He was among the youngest of several siblings. The family lived in the Pot Liquor area of Jefferson County. In 1953, when he was about three years old, his family moved to Oakland, California, after being visited by nightriders.

In December 1966, Hutton was the first to join the newly formed Black Panther Party for Self Defense, a revolutionary African-American organization that had been organized by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. At sixteen, he was the youngest member. He joined the Black Panther Party because he wanted to make a difference in his community and because he believed in the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program. On May 2, 1967, he was present when several Black Panther Party members made national headlines by appearing armed at the California State Capitol in Sacramento to protest the Mulford Act, which prohibited the carrying of firearms in any public place. Hutton and several others were later arrested several blocks away at a gas station. On May 22, 1967, he was again arrested for violating an 1887 law against having guns on grounds adjacent to a jail.

On April 6, 1968, Hutton was in a carload of Black Panther Party members who were confronted by Oakland police officers; two officers were shot. Later, at a home at 1218 28th Street, Eldridge Cleaver and Hutton, in an incident connected to the earlier shooting, engaged in a ninety-minute shootout with police officers. It was reported that Hutton was shot more than twelve times after he had already surrendered and stripped down to his underwear to prove he was not armed. However, police reports stated that Hutton was wearing a long overcoat and that his hands could not be seen when he exited the building. The death of Hutton was a major event in the party’s history, angering the Black Panthers and becoming the rallying cry for the movement.

On April 12, 1968, Hutton’s funeral was held at the Ephesian Church of God in Berkeley, California. In 1968, Country Joe and the Fish dedicated the album Together to Hutton. He is also mentioned in the following songs: Tupac Shakur’s “Ghetto Gospel,” (released posthumously in 2004), Smif-N-Wessun’s “Still Fighting,”(2007), and Bhi Bhiman’s “Up in Arms.” (2007). His image appears on the cover of the single “Star” by Primal Scream (1989). The Commemoration Committee for the Black Panther Party later organized the Lil’ Bobby Hutton Literacy Campaign. Every year in April since Hutton’s death, family and friends have held a memorial service at DeFremery Park, which, in 1998, was renamed Bobby Hutton Park by the City of Oakland, California.