new york activists

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Malcolm X with his daughter Qubilah Shabazz in Harlem on February 20, 1965.  

He was assassinated the next day at the Audubon Ballroom in front of his wife and children.

(Photos by Duilio Pallottelli)

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June 28, 2015 marks the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots

The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.

Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960′s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn. They attracted a crowd that was incited to riot. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.

After the Stonewall riots, within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gays and lesbians. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. On June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago commemorating the anniversary of the riots. Similar marches were organized in other cities. Today, Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots.

Act Up in Anger
David Handelman, Rolling Stone, Issue 573, 8 March 1990

A controversial group has become the catalyst for innovations in the way we fight AIDS

It was September 14th, 1989; more Americans had already died of AIDS-related causes than the 58,000 that had died in Vietnam. And, sneaking into the New York Stock Exchange, wearing suits and fake trader ID badges, carrying chains, handcuffs and foghorns, Peter Staley and six colleagues from ACT UP — the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power — were fighting a war too.…  More >

Mel Boozer at the New York City Gay Pride Rally, 1982.
Photo: Jeff Sanyour

Mel Boozer worked to raise LGBT and racism issues within the Democratic Party, working on Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign and helping found the mostly black and LGBT Langston Hughes-Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club in Washington, DC.

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Malcolm X returns home after his house is firebombed at 23-11 97th St in East Elmhurst, Queens on February 14, 1965. 

After Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam in March 1964 they made several attempts at his life. In June 1964, the Nation of Islam sued to reclaim Malcolm’s residence in Queens, New York, which they claimed to own. They said it was bought for one of their leaders and Malcolm X is no longer a leader. The suit was successful, and Malcolm was ordered to vacate. On February 14, 1965, the night before a scheduled hearing to postpone the eviction date, unidentified attackers firebombed Malcolm’s house at 2:35 A.M. while he and his family were asleep inside. Malcolm and his family survived. No one was charged with any crime.

Later, Malcolm said, “I didn’t see anyone but I sensed there was someone out there. It could have been done by any one of many. I’m not surprised that it was done. It doesn’t frighten me. It doesn’t quiet me down in any way or shut me up. I intend to point out to the people of New York who I think is behind this and what will develop from it, if something is not done about it.”

He was assassinated one week later on February 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in front of his wife and children.

washingtonpost.com
BREAKING: Saudi government says it will allow women to drive for the first time
King Salman decreed that a government body draw up guidelines and implement the policy by next June, according to state media. The conservative Muslim kingdom has been criticized around the world for banning women from driving. This is a developing story. It will be updated.

King Salman decreed that a government body draw up guidelines and implement the policy by next June, according to state media. The conservative Muslim kingdom has been criticized around the world for banning women from driving.

Women in Saudi Arabia will be permitted to drive in the kingdom, according to a royal decree issued in Riyadh on Tuesday that overturned one of the most widely criticized restrictions on human rights.

The decree, signed by King Salman and broadcast on state television, said that the “majority of senior scholars” had deemed the change legitimate under Sharia law, and ordered applicable government ministries to make whatever legal adjustments are required to implement it by next June.

The change aligns Saudi Arabia with virtually every other country in the world, including other conservative monarchies in the Persian Gulf region that have long allowed more freedom for women.

It was unclear how the permission to drive would relate to other remaining restrictions, including laws requiring women to be accompanied by a male “guardian” when leaving their homes.

Several prominent female Saudi activists had spent years publicly protesting the driving ban, posting videos of themselves driving on Saudi roads or headed toward its borders. The videos garnered hundreds of thousands of views and quickly landed the activists in prison.

One of the activists, Manal al-Sharif, was arrested in May of 2011 as a grassroots Saudi campaign to overturn the ban gathered momentum, and spent nine days in prison. “As a result of my protest, I was threatened – imams wanted me to be publicly lashed – and monitored and harassed,” Sharif wrote in a first-person account of her arrest and exile from Saudi Arabia, that appeared in June in the New York Times.

Other activists also faced long term harassment for defying the ban. Loujain al-Hathloul, who was detained for 73 days in 2014 after attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia from the UAE, was rearrested earlier this year and held for several days. Shortly before her arrest, she said in an interview with the Post that she had not tried to drive since her arrest three years ago.

On Tuesday, following the news that the ban had been overturned, Sharif, in a Twitter post, wrote that “Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop.”

Hathloul’s reaction was more concise. “Praise be to God,” she wrote.

Asma Siddiki, an educator at King Abdullah Economic City, said the issue was not the top priority for Saudi women but had become “symbolic.”

“We enjoy some rights that other celebrated democracies do not enjoy and yet everything was brushed under the all- encompassing question of the right of women to drive,” she said. “I feel ecstatic that it is about to become a moot topic.”

“I am also quite relieved,” she added, “that I, not my husband, may be the person who will teach my children how to drive, being a better driver, in my opinion.”

Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute of Gulf Affairs, a group often critical of the Saudi leadership, said the decision reflects the influence of reforms pushed by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

“This shows his stamp,” Ahmed said. “The ban was increasing unpopular and difficult for the ruling family to justify. It was inevitable that it would be lifted someday. Now was the time with the Saudi economy struggling with low oil prices and the monarchy facing some internal pressures.”

Last year, the well-known Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, who is a member of the royal family, declared that the kingdom’s refusal to allow women to drive was draining billions of dollars from the sagging economy.

A new government plan has called for increasing the role of Saudi women in the economy, including boosting their participation in the workforce, from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030.

Last month, a woman was appointed the chief executive of a major Saudi bank — a first in the country’s history. That came a few days after Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange appointed a woman as its chair.

Sahar Bahrawi, novelist also lives in Jiddah, said the announcement “means the world.”

“It means we obtained our right for mobility thanks to our king. Now we are really free , we are really celebrating,” she said. “We are equal to all the women around the world.”

Loulwa Bakr, a senior financial adviser who also lives in Jiddah, said she was “just happy that I no longer have to tell my 7-year-old to stop ogling at women driving in Europe because yes, it’s normal and okay for women to drive!”

“One small pedal for Saudi women, one giant leap for women kind,” she said.

This post was updated at 6:36 PM EDT.

Malcolm X stands with Captain Joseph of the Fruit of Islam and Louis X (now Louis Farrakhan) at the site of his weekly lectures in Harlem, 1963.

Imam Yusuf Shah, widely known as Captain Joseph, helped to lead the Nation of Islam’s Harlem mosque for 23 years and directed its Fruit of Islam security force. He joined the Nation of Islam in his hometown, Detroit. In 1952 the organization’s leader, Elijah Muhammad, sent him and Malcolm X to New York to organize a fledgling mosque, Mosque No. 7 (later renamed Masjid Malcolm Shabazz). He remained a leader of the mosque during the crises of Malcolm X’s dissent and assassination in 1965, a police shootout at the mosque in 1972 and Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975.

(Photo by Robert L. Haggins)

In the decade following the [San Francisco State Strike], several themes would reverberate in the struggles in Asian American communities across the nation. These included housing and anti-eviction campaigns, efforts to defend education rights, union organizing drives, campaigns for jobs and social services, and demands for democratic rights, equality, and justice. Mo Nishida, an organizer in Los Angeles, recalls the broad scope of movement activities in his city:

“Our movement flowered. At one time, we had active student organizations on every campus around Los Angeles, fought for ethnic studies, equal opportunity programs, high potential programs at UCLA, and for students doing community work in “Serve the People” programs. In the community, we had, besides [Asian American] Hard Core, four area youth-oriented groups working against drugs (on the Westside, Eastside, Gardena, and the Virgil district). There were also parents’ groups, which worked with parents of the youth and more.”

In Asian American communities in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Stockton, San Jose, Seattle, New York, and Honolulu, activists created “serve the people” organizations— mass networks built on the principles of “mass line” organizing. Youth initiated many of these organizations— some from college campuses and others from high schools and the streets— but other members of the community, including small-business people, workers, senior citizens, and new immigrants, soon joined.

 The mass character of community struggles is the least appreciated aspect of our movement today. It is commonly believed that the movement involved only college students. In fact, a range of people, including high-school youth, tenants, small-business people, former prison inmates, former addicts, the elderly, and workers embraced the struggles.

- Glenn Omatsu, “The “Four Prisons” and the Movements of Liberation: Asian American Activism from the 1960s to the 1990s,” Asian American Studies Now (2010)

For this week’s episode of the New York Public Library Podcast, we highlight discussions presented by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on two documentaries about icons Maya Angelou and John Lewis. To talk about American Masters - And Still I Rise, a film about the Pulitzer-nominated Dr. Angelou, Elizabeth Alexander, Director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation; Rita Coburn Whack, co-director and co-producer of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise; Louis Gossett, Jr., Academy Award-winning actor; and Colin Johnson, Co-Founder and Principal of Caged Bird Legacy joined Director of the Schomburg Center, Kevin Young. Get in the Way: The Journey of John Lewis is a documentary film about Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon and the winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for March: Book Three. It is discussed by Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League; activist and advocate Phil Pierre; and Ahmad Greene, a core member of the Black Lives Matter Movement. In this week’s episode, we’re proud to present conversation around generations of activism with some of our nation’s most inspiring freedom fighters.

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Nydia Margarita Velázquez (born March 28, 1953) is an American politician who has served in the United States House of Representatives since 1993. Velázquez, a Democrat from New York, is the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress, and she was the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus until January 3, 2011. Her district, located in New York City, was numbered the 12th district from 1993 to 2013 and has been numbered the 7th district since 2013.

Velázquez, whose father worked the sugar cane fields, was one of nine siblings born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. During her upbringing, political dinner conversations were commonplace. Her father was a local political activist and she would accompany him to political rallies, starting at a young age. Her father focused on the rights of sugar cane workers and denounced the abuses of wealthy farmers.[1]

After skipping a grade, she entered high school when she was 13. While a student, she organized a protest to draw attention to the school’s dangerous and unsanitary conditions. The protest resulted in the school temporarily closing down so that the necessary renovations could be made.

At age 16, Velázquez enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. In 1974, she graduated magna cum laude and became the first member of her family to receive a college degree. She then went to New York City to attend New York University, where she received a scholarship to study political science. In 1976, she received her Master’s degree.

Velázquez was a professor, first at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao from 1976 to 1981, and then at New York’s Hunter College from 1981 until 1983.

More Information on Nydia Velázquez

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Malcolm X and Redd Foxx reunited in the early 1960′s.

In the early 1940s before converting to The Nation of Islam, Malcolm Little then known as “Detroit Red” became close friends with Jon Sanford aka Redd Foxx then known as “Chicago Red”. They both were sharp dressers and resembled each other with their red hair. They worked at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack in Harlem and hustled the street together. Redd confided to Anthony Major, who ran Redd Foxx Productions in the mid-1980s, that Malcolm was the only person he really trusted. “They used to rob places together and sleep on rooftops together. Redd said he knew Malcolm has his back and trusted him. If Redd was in a fight, he could turn his back and know Malcolm was gonna be in the other side, fighting with him.“

For a while they were partners in crime stealing suits and reselling them, dealing marijuana and other petty crimes. They had a falling out as Malcolm’s criminal activities increased resulting in his 6 year incarceration which led to his rebirth as Malcolm X. 

“Malcolm didn’t have the showbiz talent so he didn’t give a damn what he got into,” Redd said. “He’d take on anything to get some dough. He was a little bit more aggressive, but I’d rather be sleeping with a broad and go somewhere [to a club] and do fifteen minutes of comedy.” (Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story)

“We became good buddies in a speakeasy where later on I was a waiter; Chicago Red was the funniest dishwasher on this earth. Now he’s making his living being funny as a nationally known stage and nightclub comedian. I don’t see any reason why old Chicago Red would mind me telling that he is Redd Foxx.“ - Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X)

Rosa Alicia Clemente (born April 18, 1972) is a United States community organizer, independent journalist and hip-hop activist. She was the vice presidential running mate of 2008 Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.[1][2][3]

Clemente was born and raised in South Bronx, New York. She is a graduate of the University of Albany and Cornell University.

Clemente’s academic work has focused on research of national liberation struggles within the United States, with a specific focus on the Young Lords Party and the Black Liberation Army. While a student at SUNY Albany, she was President of the Albany State University Black Alliance (ASUBA) and Director of Multicultural Affairs for the Student Association. At Cornell she was a founding member of La Voz Boriken, a social/political organization dedicated to supporting Puerto Rican political prisoners and the independence of Puerto Rico.

Clemente has written for Clamor Magazine, The Ave. magazine, The Black World Today, The Final Call and numerous websites.[4] She has been the subject of articles[5] in the Village Voice, The New York Times, Urban Latino and The Source magazines. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Democracy Now! and Street Soldiers.[6][7] In 2001, she was a youth representative at the United Nations World Conference against Xenophobia, Racism and Related Intolerance in South Africa and in 2002 was named[citation needed] by Red Eye Magazine as one of the top 50 Hip Hop Activists to look out for.

In 1995, she developed Know Thy Self Productions (KTSP), a full-service speakers bureau, production company and media consulting service. Seeing a need for young people of color to be heard and taken seriously, she began presenting workshops and lectures at colleges, universities, high schools, and prisons. Since 1995, Clemente has presented at over 200 colleges, conferences and community centers on topics such as “African-American and Latino/a Intercultural Relations”, “Hip-Hop Activism”, “The History of the Young Lords Party”, and “Women, Feminism and Hip Hop”. KTSP now includes an expanded college speakers bureau which has produced three major Hip Hop activism tours, “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win” with M1 of dead prez and Fred Hampton Jr.; “The ACLU College Freedom Tour” with dead prez, DJ Kuttin Kandi, Mystic and comedian Dave Chappelle; and the “Speak Truth to Power” Tour a collaborative tour of award winning youth activists.

More Information on Rosa Clemente

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Stonewall Official Trailer In Theaters September 25

Mel Boozer on the floor of the Democratic National Convention, New York City, 13 August 1980.
Photo by Lisa M. Keen, Washington Blade archive.

Melvin Boozer was nominated in 1980 for the office of Vice President of the United States by the Socialist Party USA and, by petition at the convention, by the Democratic Party. He was the first openly gay person ever nominated for the office. Boozer spoke to the Democratic convention in a speech televised in prime time, calling on the party to support equality for LGBT people.

Boozer received 49 votes before the balloting was suspended and then-Vice President Walter Mondale was renominated by acclamation.

At the time of his nomination, Boozer served as President of what was then known as the Gay Activists Alliance of Washington, DC.