Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The official web site for Desmond Dekker, 'King of Ska' can be accessed by clicking on the following URL:
The King of Ska
Reggae singer Desmond Dekker has died suddenly from a heart attack, aged 64.
Dekker, whose 1969 hit Israelites was the first reggae song to top the UK charts, collapsed at his Surrey home.
Manager Delroy Williams said the Jamaica-born performer had seemed fine when they met a day earlier, adding: "I don't think I will ever get over this."
Reggae DJ Daddy Ernie, of Choice FM in London, said: "Any history book that you pick up on reggae, Desmond Dekker's name will have to be in there."
He added: "People like Desmond Dekker only come along once in a lifetime. This is one of the pioneers that has passed away -his place is definitely cemented in reggae history."
Mark Lamarr, presenter of BBC Radio 2's Reggae Show, said: "He probably was the first reggae superstar to have hits outside Jamaica in the US and UK.
"I saw him live dozens of times and he couldn't do a bad show - he was always magnificent."
Mr Williams said Dekker had led the way for reggae stars such as Bob Marley.
"Desmond was the first legend, believe it or not," he said.
"When he released Israelites nobody had heard of Bob Marley - he paved the way for all of them."
The star was divorced with a son and daughter.
He had been due to perform at the Respect Festival in Prague on 2 June, and numerous dates across Europe during the summer.
His last concert was at Leeds Metropolitan University on 11 May.
"He was at his peak fitness, he had this big tour coming up for this summer and he was looking forward to it - and then that was it," Mr Williams said.
"He died peacefully but it still hurts. I was his manager and his best friend. I don't think anyone knew how close we were -we go back so far."
He added: "I didn't even get the chance to say goodbye properly."
Dekker was born on 16 July 1941 in Kingston, Jamaica, and began his working life as a welder before turning to singing full-time.
His band Desmond Dekker and the Aces topped the UK charts with Israelites, which also made the US top 10.
He moved to the UK in the '70s, later recording the hit You Can Get It If You Really Want, written by Jimmy Cliff.
The musician's popularity waned in the late '70s and '80s, and Dekker was declared bankrupt in 1984.
But a new version of Israelites was released in 1990 and used in television commercials, boosting the star's popularity.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/26 12:53:03 GMT
'His work will live on for years'
Brinsley Forde, BBC 6 Music DJ and former frontman of reggae band Aswad, reflects on the enduring influence of the late Desmond Dekker.
It is a sad loss. I had met him a few times and had a lot of respect for him.
He was one of the first reggae artists to really make a mark on the European market.
You have got to say that his success really inspired a lot of other artists that they could actually do it.
I would imagine that Bob Marley was influenced by Desmond Dekker.
In the scheme of things, he is very important.
Because songs like Israelites became so popular we regard them as classic pop songs, but they were very political in their time - they were talking about the conditions that people were finding themselves in.
He was still touring, and was just about to go on tour.
I think there were a lot of young people who were getting into his music.
The last time I saw him perform live would have been a few years ago, and he was absolutely incredible.
He was up and down the stage like nobody's business - I was actually quite shocked at his energy.
He was still commanding the audience - half of them probably weren't born when those songs were popular, and they were totally into him.
People I have spoken to since his death, you mention Desmond Dekker and they say, 'Who?' Then you start singing the songs and they go, 'Yes, I know that song'.
The work that he has left will live on for years and years.
There is great wealth of musicians and artists that we listen to now but don't recognise that they listened to Desmond Dekker's music and were influenced by it.
It may never fully be recognised and appreciated, but I am sure he has done a great service for music.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/26 14:40:28 GMT
Obituary: Desmond Dekker
With the 1969 song Israelites, Desmond Dekker was one of the first Jamaican musician to enjoy a worldwide hit single and the song was the first number one reggae record in the UK.
The mixture of Dekker's falsetto singing with an underlying bass vocal line provided by his backing group, The Aces, proved so popular that it was a hit three times over.
Specifically, Desmond Dekker had introduced ska to the world outside Jamaica, a brand of music that combined the indigenous Jamaican mento folk music with American rhythm and blues.
Its upbeat feel reflected the optimism engendered by the newly-gained independence from Britain in 1962.
Many of Dekker's hits including Rude Boy Train, Rudie Got Soul and 007 (Shanty Town) echoed the violent street culture of Jamaican cities, in particular Kingston, to which there had been a large migration from the countryside.
This in turn reflected the disillusionment after the expectations of prosperity that the spirit of independence had ushered in failed to materialise.
In the late '50s some Jamaican sound system operators, notably Duke Reid and Clement Dodd, had started producing their own records, developing a native Jamaican beat called ska.
From those origins came further beats, like rock steady, reggae, raga and dub.
Desmond Dacres, as he was born in 1942, worked as a welder in Kingston.
He was orphaned as a teenager but made a success for himself after signing with Leslie Kong's Beverley's record label and releasing his first single, Honour Your Father and Mother, in 1963, a paean to homespun wisdom.
By the time of his fourth hit, King of Ska, he had become one of Jamaica's biggest stars. The song is still revered among ska fans.
After 1967, he appeared on producer Derrick Morgan's Tougher than Tough which helped begin a popular trend of glamorising the violent culture of the "rude boys" in a similar vein to which American rap music was to follow decades later.
Following his success with Israelites, Desmond Dekker moved to the UK where ska had developed a huge following among the mods. He remained in Britain for the rest of his life.
In the 1970s he recorded the hit You Can Get It If You Really Want, written by Jimmy Cliff.
But Dekker's success started to wane by the end of the `70s and early `80s as the "two-tone" music's popularity was no longer mainstream, and reggae artists like Bob Marley were in the ascendancy.
Dekker was declared bankrupt in 1984.
But he continued to attract a following and was a regular performer on the club scene in Britain and Europe.
Re-releases of Israelites in 1975 and again in 1990, kept his head above water and ensured his name continued to resonate with the public.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/26 10:58:42 GMT
Desmond Decker, 64, First Artist to Spread Ska, Rock Steady & Reggae Around the World
Courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org
Desmond Dekker (July 16, 1941 – May 25, 2006), was a Jamaican ska and reggae singer and songwriter. Together with his backing group, The Aces (consisting of Wilson James and Easton Barrington Howard), he had one of the first international Jamaican hits with “Israelites”. Other hits include “007 (Shanty Town)” (1967) and “It Mek” (1968). Before the ascent of Bob Marley, Dekker was the best-known Jamaican musician outside of his country, and one of the most popular within it.
He was born Desmond Adolphus Dacres in Kingston and was orphaned as a teenager. Dekker began working as a welder, singing around his workplace while his co-workers encouraged him. In 1961 he auditioned for Coxsone Dodd (Studio One) and Duke Reid (Treasure Isle). Neither were impressed by his talents and the young man moved on to Leslie Kong's Beverley record label where he auditioned before Derrick Morgan, then the label's biggest star.
Early recording career
With Morgan's support, Dekker was signed but did not record until 1963 because Leslie Kong wanted to wait for the perfect song, which "Honour Your Father and Mother" was felt to be.
“Honour Your Father and Mother” was a hit and was followed by “Sinners Come Home” and “Labour for Learning”, as well as a name change (from Desmond Dacres to Desmond Dekker). His fourth hit, however, made him into one of the island's biggest stars. It was “King of Ska,” a rowdy and jubilant song on which Dekker was backed by The Cherrypies (also known as The Maytals). The song remains well known among ska fans. Dekker then recruited four brothers, Carl, Patrick, Clive and Barry Howard, who became his backing band, The Four Aces.
Dekker and the Howards recorded a number of hits including
“Parents,” “Get Up Edina,” “This Woman,” and “Mount Zion.” Until 1967 Dekker's songs were polite and conveyed respectable, mainstream messages. In that year, however, he appeared on Derrick Morgan's “Tougher Than Tough,” which helped begin a trend of popular songs glamourizing the violent rude boy culture. Dekker's own songs did not go to the extremes of many other popular tunes though he did introduce lyrics which resonated with the rude boys starting with one of his best-known songs, “007 (Shanty Town)”. The song established Dekker as a rude boy icon and also became an established hero in the United Kingdom's mod scene. “007 (Shanty Town)” was a Top 15 hit in the UK, and he toured that country with a posse of mods following him.
Dekker continued with songs in the same vein such as “Rude Boy Train” and “Rudie Got Soul”, as well as continuing with his previous themes of religion and morality in songs like “It's a Shame”, “Wise Man”, “Hey Grandma”, “Unity”, “It Pays”, “Mother's Young Girl” and “Sabotage.” His “Pretty Africa” is a long-standing favourite among his fans and may be the earliest popular song promoting repatriation. Many of the hits from this era came from his debut album, 007 (Shanty Town).
In 1968 Dekker's “Israelites” was released, appearing on both the U.S. and UK singles chart, and eventually topping the latter and peaking in the Top Ten of the former. He was the first Jamaican performer to enter U.S. markets with pure Jamaican music, though he never repeated the feat. Equally, the track became the first reggae song to top the UK chart. That same year saw the release of “Beautiful and Dangerous,” “Writing on the Wall,” “Music Like Dirt”, “Bongo Girl,” and “Shing a Ling.” In the same year, Dekker was mentioned as "Desmond" by his friend Paul McCartney in The Beatles' song "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", when it was released on 'The White Album'.
1969 saw the release of “It Mek,” which first saw only lukewarm success but was re-recorded and became a hit both in Jamaica and the UK. He also released “Problems” and “Pickney Gal,” both of which were popular in Jamaica but saw only limited success elsewhere.
Mid career (the 1970s)
In the 1970s Dekker spent most of his time touring and moved to the UK, where he continued to record. Among his best known releases of this period was “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” written by Jimmy Cliff, which Dekker had not wanted to record but was convinced to do so by Leslie Kong. Kong, whose production had been an instrumental part of both Dekker's and Cliff's careers, died in 1971 and both his protegés lost direction for a period before returning to music.
Dekker continued recording, but with only limited success until he began working with the production duo Bruce Anthony in 1974. His first hit with the pair was 1975's “Sing a Little Song” which climbed in to the British Top Ten. Dekker was unable to follow its success, however, and did not chart in the UK for some time (except for the Top Ten re-charting of “Israelites” in 1975). Dekker also found only a limited audience in Jamaica.
At the end of the 1970s Dekker signed with Stiff Records, a punk label linked with the Two-Tone movement, a fusion of punk and ska. He recorded an album called Black & Dekker which featured his previous hits backed by The Rumour, Graham Parker's backing band. His first single was “Israelites,” a Top Ten Belgian hit, and was followed by “Please Don't Bend,” Jimmy Cliff's “Many Rivers to Cross” and “Book of Rules.” His next album was Compass Point, produced by Robert Palmer. Though Compass Point did not sell well, Dekker was still a popular live performer and he toured with The Rumour.
In the early 1980s, as the Two Tone movement died out, he saw his fortunes dwindle and he was declared bankrupt in 1984. Only a single live album was released in the late 80s, but a new version of “Israelites” reawakened public interest in 1990, following its use in a Maxell advertisement. He re-recorded some old singles, and worked with The Specials for 1992's King of Kings', which used hits from Dekker's musical heroes, including Derrick Morgan.
He also collaborated on a remix version of his classic “Israelites” with reggae artist Apache Indian.
Desmond Dekker died of a heart attack on 25th May, 2006, at his home in Thornton Heath in the London Borough of Croydon , England, aged 64. He was preparing to headline a world music festival in Prague. Mr. Dekker was divorced and is survived by a son and daughter.
He is referenced in the Rancid song "Roots Radicals" in the lyric: "The radio was playing/Desmond Dekker was singing/On the 43 bus as we climb up the hill."
He is also mentioned in the Common Rider song "Classics of Love" in the lyric: "Midnight Marauder spinning on my stereo/Mr. Desmond Dekker has a crown made of gold/The kids are alright a-what a-what I hear."
In the 1991 Gulf War, US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia were told not to play certain songs, including Dekker's Israelites, to avoid inflaming the sensitivities of their hosts.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Katherine Dunham (1909-2006)
Stephen Chernin, AP
NEW YORK (AP) — Katherine Dunham, a pioneering dancer and choreographer, author and civil rights activist who left Broadway to teach culture in one of America's poorest cities, has died. She was 96.
Dunham died Sunday at the Manhattan assisted living facility where she lived, said Charlotte Ottley, executive liaison for the organization that preserves her artistic estate. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Dunham was perhaps best known for bringing African and Caribbean influences to the European-dominated dance world. In the late 1930s, she established the nation's first self-supporting all-black modern dance group.
"We weren't pushing 'Black is Beautiful,' we just showed it," she later wrote.
During her career, Dunham choreographed 'Aida' for the Metropolitan Opera and musicals such as 'Cabin in the Sky' for Broadway.' She also appeared in several films, including 'Stormy Weather' and 'Carnival of Rhythm.'
Her dance company toured internationally from the 1940s to the '60s, visiting 57 nations on six continents. Her success was won in the face of widespread discrimination, a struggle Dunham championed by refusing to perform at segregated theaters.
For her endeavors, Dunham received 10 honorary doctorates, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the Albert Schweitzer Prize at the Kennedy Center Honors, and membership in the French Legion of Honor, as well as major honors from Brazil and Haiti.
"She is one of the very small handful of the most important people in the dance world of the 20th century," said Bonnie Brooks, chairman of the dance department at Columbia College in Chicago. "And that's not even mentioning her work in civil rights, anthropological research and for humanity in general."
After 1967, Dunham lived most of each year in predominantly black East St. Louis, Ill., where she struggled to bring the arts to a Mississippi River city of burned-out buildings and high crime.
She set up an eclectic compound of artists from around the globe, including Harry Belafonte. Among the free classes offered were dance, African hair-braiding and woodcarving, conversational Creole, Spanish, French and Swahili and more traditional subjects such as aesthetics and social science.
Dunham also offered martial arts training in hopes of getting young, angry males off the street. Her purpose, she said, was to steer the residents of East St. Louis "into something more constructive than genocide."
Government cuts and a lack of private funding forced her to scale back her programs in the 1980s. Despite a constant battle to pay bills, Dunham continued to operate a children's dance workshop and a museum.
Plagued by arthritis and poverty in the latter part of her life, Dunham made headlines in 1992 when she went on a 47-day hunger strike to protest U.S. policy that repatriated Haitian refugees.
Quick Facts: Katherine Dunham
- Born: Joliet, Ill.
- Studied at the University of Chicago
- Merged Interest in Anthropology and Dance
- Lived in the Caribbean; Studied Dance There
- Was Civil and Human Rights Activist
Brought African Movement to American Modern Dance
Performed on Broadway in 'Cabin in the Sky'
Produced 90 Single Dances and Five Revues
Won an Honor From the Kennedy Center
Trained Disadvanted Kids in East St. Louis, Ill.
"It's embarrassing to be an American," Dunham said at the time.
Dunham's New York studio attracted illustrious students like Marlon Brando and James Dean who came to learn the "Dunham Technique," which Dunham herself explained as "more than just dance or bodily executions. It is about movement, forms, love, hate, death, life, all human emotions."
In her later years, she depended on grants and the kindness of celebrities, artists and former students to pay for her day-to-day expenses. Will Smith and Harry Belafonte were among those who helped her catch up on bills, Ottley said.
"She didn't end up on the street though she was one step from it," Ottley said. "She has been on the edge and survived it all with dignity and grace."
Dunham was married to theater designer John Thomas Pratt for 49 years before his death in 1986.
Associated Press writer Herbert G. McCann in Chicago contributed to this report.
May 23, 2006
Katherine Dunham, Dancer, Is Dead at 96
By JACK ANDERSON
New York Times
Katherine Dunham, the dancer, choreographer, teacher and anthropologist whose pioneering work introduced much of the black heritage in dance to the stage, died Sunday at her home in Manhattan. She was 96.
Her death was confirmed by Dr. Glory Van Scott, a friend and former Dunham dancer. Miss Dunham also had homes in East St. Louis, Ill., where she had run inner-city cultural programs for decades, and in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
By creating popular and glamorous revues based on African and Caribbean folklore, Miss Dunham acquainted audiences, both on Broadway and around the world, with the historical roots of black dance.
In the late 1930's she founded the nation's first self-supporting black modern-dance troupe, one that visited more than 50 countries on six continents. Her achievements came at a time of racial discrimination, which she fought against, refusing to return to segregated theaters in the South. "We weren't pushing 'Black Is Beautiful,' we just showed it," she once wrote. One of her works, "Southland," depicted a lynching.
Miss Dunham also became attached to Haiti and its culture, first arriving there as a young anthropologist. She later became a priestess of the Vaudun religion. In 1992, at the age of 82 and suffering from arthritis, she staged a much-publicized 47-day hunger strike to protest repatriation of Haitian refugees.
In East St. Louis, she found talented young people living in one of the nation's most destitute areas and turned them into dancers. Describing her work there, she said her aim was "to make the individual aware of himself and his environment, to create a desire to be alive."
Miss Dunham was a recipient of some of the most prestigious awards in the arts, including the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the Albert Schweitzer Prize (presented at Carnegie Hall), Kennedy Center Honors and decorations from the French and Haitian governments.
In her dance technique, Miss Dunham emphasized the isolation of individual parts of the body. Some of her concepts continue to be taught at modern-dance schools across America. Her work was an important influence on Alvin Ailey, among other contemporary choreographers.
George Balanchine cast Miss Dunham in a major role in "Cabin in the Sky," a Broadway musical starring Ethel Waters, which he staged and choreographed in 1940. She then went to Hollywood and danced in and choreographed the movies "Carnival of Rhythm" (1941), "Star-Spangled Rhythm" (1942) and "Stormy Weather" (1943), among others. It was in the 40's that Miss Dunham developed the fast-paced shows for which she was celebrated. "Tropical Revue," successfully produced on Broadway in 1943, also toured the nation to much acclaim. Its sensuality also drew complaints, and it was cut, and finally closed, in Boston.
Miss Dunham was born on June 22, 1909 in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Her father, Albert Millard Dunham, was a descendant of slaves from Madagascar and West Africa. Her French Canadian mother, Fanny June Taylor, died when Miss Dunham was young. Her father then married Annette Poindexter, a schoolteacher from Iowa, and moved his family to predominantly white Joliet, Ill., where he ran a dry-cleaning business.
Always interested in the theater, Miss Dunham shocked neighbors when, at 15, she announced she would stage a "cabaret party" to aid a Methodist Church. Later, she confessed that she had scarcely known what "cabaret" meant.
Miss Dunham attended Joliet Junior College and the University of Chicago, where she received her bachelor's degree, going on to a doctorate in anthropology there. She also studied dance in Chicago with Ludmilla Speranzeva and Mark Turbyfill, a choreographer and poet, with whom she established the short-lived Ballet Nègre in 1930. Ruth Page, a prominent Chicago choreographer, cast her in "La Guiablesse," a ballet based on Martinique folklore that was performed at the Chicago Civic Opera House in 1933.
The following year, Miss Speranzeva helped Miss Dunham establish the Chicago Negro School of Ballet and a company, the Negro Dance Group, which evolved into the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. She did her anthropological field work in the Caribbean as a graduate student in 1935, receiving a Rosenwald Fellowship to study traditional dances in Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad and Haiti, where she became close to Haitians and took up the Vaudun religion. Over the years Miss Dunham spent much time in Haiti and in 1961 established a medical clinic there.
In the United States, she worked with the Federal Theater in Chicago, where she met John Pratt, an artist and designer to whom she was married from 1941 until his death in 1986. He also managed her career. Their daughter, Marie Christine Dunham Pratt, of Rome, who survives her.
Miss Dunham took her Negro Dance Group to New York in 1937 but did not attract wide attention there until 1939, when she choreographed "Pins and Needles," a satirical revue produced by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
Her popular appearance on Broadway as Georgia Brown in "Cabin in the Sky" at the Martin Beck Theater led to Hollywood and her celebrated revues of the early 40's. Later revues included "Carib Song" (1945), "Bal Nègre" (1946), "Caribbean Rhapsody" (1948) and "Bamboche" (1962). They consisted of brief, vivid numbers inspired by African, Caribbean or African-American dance forms. In 1945, she founded the Dunham School of Dance and Theater in New York. Until it closed a decade later, it offered courses in dance, acting, psychology, philosophy, music, design and foreign languages.
After World War II, her dance company toured constantly, visiting more than 50 countries in 30 years. "Judging from reactions," she said at one point, "the dancing of my group is called anthropology in New Haven, sex in Boston and in Rome — art!"
She also continued to choreograph in New York. In 1963 she became the first African-American to choreograph at the Metropolitan Opera since 1934, startling audiences with her lusty dances for a production of Verdi's "Aida." Writing in The New York Times, the critic Allen Hughes said: "There is 'modern' in it, belly-dancing, the foot-stamping and hip-and-shoulder shaking of primitive African dancing and much more. All pure Dunham."
Miss Dunham began an association with Southern Illinois University in 1964 when she choreographed Gounod's "Faust" at the Carbondale campus. In 1967, she moved to its Edwardsville campus and founded the Performing Arts Training Center in nearby East St. Louis.
She did more than offer courses there. Her collection of African and Haitian art became the basis for the community's Katherine Dunham Dynamic Museum, which opened there in the late-1970's. She also counseled disadvantaged young people, and her colleagues noted that she could calm the angriest of them through the sheer power of her presence, making her ordinarily soft voice even softer — yet always firm — as the counseling session proceeded. Miss Dunham was also the author of many books, some published under the pseudonym Kaye Dunn. Her books including "Journey to Accompong" (1946), "A Touch of Innocence: Memoirs of Childhood" (1959), "Island Possessed" (1969) and "Dances of Haiti" (1984).
Miss Dunham remained relatively active in her last years. On May 11, she appeared at the Morgan Library in Manhattan for a screening of "Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball," an ABC special, broadcast on Monday, celebrating Ms. Winfrey's personal heroes, Miss Dunham among them. She was resplendent in a kente-inflected robe set off with a large paisley scarf.
Earlier in the month she had appeared at La Boule Blanche (the White Ball) at Riverside Church, an event organized by her friend Dr. Scott to celebrate the publication of an anthology of writings by and about Miss Dunham. The book, "Kaiso!," edited by VèVè A. Clark and Sara E. Johnson, was recently released by University of Wisconsin Press. The title is a Calypso expression meaning, "Bravo!"
May 23, 2006
How Katherine Dunham Revealed Black Dance to the World
By JENNIFER DUNNING
New York Times
Whatever else Katherine Dunham was in her long and productive life, which ended on Sunday at 96, she was a radiantly beautiful woman whose warmth and sense of self spread like honey on the paths before her.
How could anyone be stopped by the color of her skin after her invincibly lush sensuality and witty intelligence had seduced audiences on Broadway, in Hollywood films and in immensely popular dance shows that toured the world? And how could anyone cram black American dance into one or two conveniently narrow categories — or for that matter ignore the good strong roots that would one day grow green stems and leaves — with the vision of her company's lavishly theatrical African and Caribbean dance revues in mind?
Miss Dunham was one of the first American artists to focus on black dance and dancers as prime material for the stage. She burst into public consciousness in the 1940's, at a time when opportunities were increasing for black performers in mainstream theater and film, at least temporarily. But there was little middle ground there between the exotic and the demeaning everyday stereotypes.
Ms. Dunham's dance productions were certainly exotic, and sometimes fell into uncomfortable clichés. But a 1987 look at her work, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's "Magic of Katherine Dunham" program, confirmed that she also evoked ordinary lives that were lived with ordinary dignity.
Miss Dunham, as she was universally known, was by no means the only dance artist to push for the recognition of black dance in the 1940's, when Pearl Primus pushed, too, though a great deal less glamorously. But though Miss Dunham's academic credentials as an anthropologist were impeccable, including a doctorate from the University of Chicago, it was her gift for seduction that helped most to pave the way for choreographers like Donald McKayle, Talley Beatty and Alvin Ailey, who were the first wave of what is today an established and influential part of the larger world of American modern dance.
Ailey's first encounter with her, as a newly stage-struck boy in his mid-teens, says a great deal about Miss Dunham's appeal. Intrigued by handbills advertising her 1943 "Tropical Revue," he ventured into the Biltmore Theater in downtown Los Angeles, his hometown, where it was playing. There he was plunged into a world of color, light and heat that was populated by highly trained dancers with a gift for powerful immediacy, who were dressed in subtle, stylish costumes designed by John Pratt, Miss Dunham's husband. After the show, Ailey followed the crowd making its way backstage to her dressing room and was again stunned when the door opened on a vision of beautiful hanging fabrics and carpeting, paintings, books, flowers and baskets of fruit. And there was La Dunham, dressed in vividly colored silks and exuding irresistible gaiety and warmth.
Ailey returned to the show several times a week, let into the theater by the Dunham dancers who had looked so unapproachably exotic on that first backstage visit. And he was still more than a little in love with her when he invited her to create for his company "The Magic of Katherine Dunham," a program of pieces that had not been seen for a quarter-century. Miss Dunham's dancers, who remained close to her and to one another throughout her life, swarmed into the studios to help her work with the young performers.
Most of the Ailey dancers did not appreciate Miss Dunham's iron perfectionism or the unusual demands of her technique, a potent but challenging blend of Afro-Caribbean, ballet and modern dance. And she was not the easiest of women. I remember speaking with her before a public interview we were to do in April 1993. Addicted to CNN, she had just learned of the fiery, tragic end to the F.B.I.'s seige of the Branch Davidian compound in in Waco, Tex., that morning, and that was all that she could talk about, off and on the stage, despite her promises to discuss her work.
Her horror was real, as was her sense of social justice. She has been criticized for not denouncing the Duvaliers for their dictatorship in Haiti, where she owned a home. But she had also sponsored a medical clinic in Port-au-Prince, and she stayed on for many years in desolate, impoverished East St. Louis, Ill., where she established a museum of artifacts pertaining to her career and taught local children including Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the Olympic long jumper, and the filmmakers Reginald and Warrington Hudlin.
"I was trying to steer them into something more constructive than genocide," she said of the children in a 1991 interview with me in The New York Times. "Everyone needs, if not a culture hero, a culturally heroic society. There is nothing stronger in a man than the need to grow."
That idealistic, eloquent self was infused with a streak of no-nonsense practicality.
"I don't like that 'accept,' " MissDunham, still a vibrant beauty at 91, said during a Times interview six years ago in response to a middle-aged visitor who insisted on talking to her about the acceptance and embrace of old age. "I would just let the whole thing go. Just be there for it, centimeter by centimeter." Then it was time for the photo session.
Her eyes seemed to widen even more invitingly and her gaze to grow even warmer as she looked into the eye of the camera and asked, "Did you ever see photographs of elderly divas trying to look sexy?"
March from Malcolm X Park to White House draws hundreds
By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20, 2006 (PANW)--Growing support for the governments and peoples of Venezuela and Cuba was evident today when various organizations and individuals gathered in the nation's capital to express their concern about the increasingly aggressive foreign policy directed at these two Caribbean and Latin American nations by the Bush administration.
Beginning at 10:00 a.m. activists rallied at Malcolm X Park located on Euclid and 15th Street, NW, to circulate leaflets, posters, Venezuelan flags as well as listen to speeches from over 25 different people calling for the full recognition of both Cuba and Venezuela as sovereign nations. After the extensive rally, activists lined up in the Park and marched on to 16th Street, NW where they paraded through the city chanting pro-Cuban and Venezuelan slogans.
The first stop of the march was the Cuban Interests Section where a delegation from the demonstration greeted the diplomats with messages of support for the foreign policy aims and objectives of the Caribbean state. Members of the delegation to stop by the Cuban Interests Section included Pam Africa of the MOVE organization, Ignacio Meneses of the US/Cuba Labor Exchange and Nellie Hester Bailey, the leader of the Harlem Tenants Council.
The demonstration continued through the streets of the nation's capital arriving eventually at Lafayette Park right across the street from the White House. After the arrival of the marchers at Lafayette Park another group of speakers continued to protest the role of the United States against Cuba and Venezuela.
This demonstration was hosted and sponsored by dozens of different organizations. For more information on the endorsing groups, just log on to the following web site at http://www.may20coalition.org
Message from Ricardo Alarcon,
President of the National Assembly of People’s Power of the Republic of Cuba
Dear sisters and brothers:
On behalf of the revolutionary Government of Cuba and the Cuban people I salute the organizers and all participants at the May 20 Hands off Venezuela and Cuba rally.
We appreciate your solidarity in our struggle for independence and justice in the face of the imperialist aggression that our people have been resisting, heroically and successfully for over 47 years. In spite of the economic blockade our people have advanced dramatically in building a new and better society and are cooperating closely with our brothers and sisters in Venezuela. We are helping many others as well in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia to improve their lives. We strongly believe that free and universal health care and education, a decent job and housing are inalienable rights that belong to everybody including the millions deprived of those rights in the United States.
We urge all of you to join us in demanding an end to the criminal and hypocritical policy of the Bush administration that continues to promote terrorism against the Cuban people as illustrated by their protection of such cold blood killers like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles. In addition, join us also in opposition to the maintaining unjustly of the incarcerated Five Cuban heroes that were detained almost 8 years ago precisely for their efforts against those very same terrorist groups that operate with impunity and with the official protection of the US authorities.
We call upon all of you to join in the international campaign against US sponsored terrorism from September 12, when the Cuban Five will have been deprived of their freedom for 8 years, to October the 6th, which will mark the 30th anniversary of the destruction of a Cubana civilian airplane resulting in the assassination of all 73 persons on board. We should also commemorate next September 21, the 30th anniversary of the killing in Washington D.C. of Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffit.
Orlando Bosch was involved in the plot to murder Letelier and Moffit which is clearly reflected in recently declassified U.S. official documents. However, Bosch has never been questioned by the FBI and is living in Miami still actively pursuing his criminal endeavors.
Luis Posada Carriles is a fugitive of the Venezuelan justice from which he escaped with the help of the Reagan-Bush White House twenty years ago. The U.S. Government knows very well that he and Bosch masterminded the destruction of our airplane in 1976. The U.S. has an obligation to extradite Posada to Venezuela to continue his trial related to that heinous crime or it has the responsibility to prosecute him in the U.S. for the same crime. There is no legal alternative according to international conventions against terrorism that have been signed and ratified by the U.S. But Mr. Posada has been for more than a year under U.S. official protection and so far he has not been extradited or accused.
The detention of Gerardo, Ramon, Antonio, Fernando and Rene was determined to be arbitrary and illegal by a unanimous decision of a five member panel of U.N. human rights experts. Their convictions were reversed also by a unanimous decision of three judges of the Atlanta Court of Appeals. Those decisions were announced in May 2005 and August 2005, but the Five Cubans are still in prison subjected to cruel and unusual treatment with severe violations of their human rights including the denial of visas to the wives of Gerardo and Rene that have not been permitted to enter the U.S. to visit them.
The Five Cubans must be liberated immediately. Posada Carriles and Bosch must be prosecuted and punished as admitted and very well documented terrorists.
The cynical “war on terrorism” carried out by Bush has to be unmasked, denounced and defeated.
The aggression against the Iraqi people has to be stopped forthwith. The exploitation and discrimination against immigrant workers, the war on poor people, must end.
The threats against Venezuela and the interventionist attempts against other peoples in Latin America have to be condemned and rejected.
Let’s fight together to build bridges of friendship, peace and cooperation between the peoples of the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean. Let’s struggle united, shoulder to shoulder, towards a new and better world, a world of justice and freedom for all.
Long live the American people. Long live the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. In solidarity let’s fight together until victory forever.
May 20, 2006
DC Hands Off Cuba & Venezuela speech by Jose Pertierra on May 20,06
PUNISH, DON´T PROTECT, POSADA CARRILES
Text of speech given by José Pertierra at the Hands off Cuba and Venezuela Rally in Washington, D.C. on May 20, 2006
The first year anniversary of Luis Posada Carriles’ detention by the Bush Administration was the 17th of May. Some might view this as a cause for celebration: that a notorious international terrorist, a man known as the Osama Bin Laden of Latin America, accused of downing a passenger plane with 73 passengers on board has been caught and is in jail, presumably to await prosecution for his crimes. Yet the Bush Administration did not charge Posada Carriles with terrorism, nor has it prosecuted Venezuela’s request for his extradition—a request that has been pending since June of last year.
The only charge brought against Posada Carriles by the Bush Administration is a mere immigration infraction: i.e., entry into the United States without inspection. The Bush Administration used the immigration case against Posada to spin a tall-tale: to try and fool people into believing that the U.S. takes the Posada case seriously and to give the appearance that the wheels of justice are grinding along, when in fact the White House is simply using the immigration case as the prop with which to stonewall the prosecution of this international terrorist.
The United States is legally obligated to abide by its international treaty obligations and extradite or prosecute this criminal.
Posada Carriles stands indicted in Venezuela for 73 counts of first degree murder in relation to the downing of a passenger plane on October 6, 1976. At the time, it was worst act of terrorism perpetrated on a civilian
Aboard the plane were 73 persons. 57 of the passengers were Cubans. 11 of them were Guyanese, most of them had just won scholarships to study medicine in Cuba. The remaining five passengers were Koreans. Those on board averaged only 30 years of age.
Traveling with the group were 24 members of the Cuban fencing team, many of them teen-agers, fresh from gold medal victories at the Youth Fencing Championship in Caracas.
Most of the bodies recovered from the wreckage were too grotesquely disfigured to be identified by their loved ones. The forensic report performed by the coroner describes the condition of the nine year old Guyanese girl whose remains were recovered from the downed aircraft: “Body of a girl around 9 years of age . . . . Brain missing, only facial bones, scalp and hair remaining. Lungs and heart destroyed. Liver and intestines shattered. Buttocks missing on right lower limb. Compound fracture of tibia and fibula . . . ” None of the 73 passengers aboard the plane survived.
In support of its extradition request, Venezuela submitted documents to the United States showing that Posada is under indictment in Venezuela for first degree murder in relation to the downing of the plane, that there is an arrest warrant outstanding against him in Caracas and that there is probable cause to hold him for trial as the mastermind of the downing of the passenger plane.
This is an airtight case. Only the Bush Administration’s desire to shelter this international terrorist impedes his extradition, but the law is clear. It obligates the United States to either extradite or prosecute.
The international treaties and conventions to which the United States is a party, obligate the Bush Administration to either extradite Posada Carriles or to prosecute him in the United States for 73 counts of first degree murder.
There is no discretion. It cannot pretend he is simply an undocumented immigrant and place him in a safe and comfortable holding facility in Texas until the extradition case goes away.
Venezuela’s extradition case is not going to go away. The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is firmly committed in the fight against international terrorism. Venezuela’s commitment is not to an a la carte war on terror, such as the Bush Administration wages: a war that distinguishes between terrorists that the U.S. prefers to protect and terrorists that the U.S. prefers to torture. All terrorists should be prosecuted. None should be tortured.
What would the Founding Fathers think of a White House that protects terrorists but persecutes those who combat terrorism? Would Jefferson and Madison recognize this country today? A country that shelters Posada, yet persecutes and punishes five brave Cubans (Gerardo, Rene, Tony, Fernando and Ramón) who came to this country to combat terrorism?
A high ranking United States government official told us last week that Venezuela should be content with the fact that Luis Posada Carriles has not been released and continues detained in an immigration holding facility. Well, President Bush, we don’t want Posada detained for mere immigration infractions. We want him tried for 73 counts of first degree murder. The families of the victims want to be sure that his crimes do not go unpunished.
At home, I have a woodcut done by my late friend, the Uruguayan artist Naúl Ojeda. Living in the woodcut in bright red ink is a Pablo Neruda poem. Part of the poem says,
Por estos muertos nuestros pido castigo
Para los que de sangre
salpicaron la Patria
For the sake of our dead, I ask for punishment.
For those who spilled blood in our country,
I ask for punishment
Para el verdugo que mandó esta muerte
Para el que dio la orden de agonía
For the executioner who sent us murder
I ask for punishment
For the one who gave the order that caused our agony
I ask for punishment
Para los que defendieron este crimen
No quiero que me den
la mano empapada
por nuestra sangre: Pido castigo.
For those that defended this crime
I ask for punishment
I don’t want them to extend us
hands soaked with our
blood: I want them punished.
No los quiero de embajadores
tampoco en su casa tranquilos
Los quiero ver aquí juzgados
en esta plaza, en este sitio.
I don’t want to see them as ambassadors
or living comfortably in their homes.
I want to see them tried here
In this plaza, right here in this place
I want them punished.
Mr. President: we don’t want to see Luis Posada Carriles living comfortably in Miami again, while his crimes go unpunished. We don’t want to see him exhibit his fourth-grade quality paintings in a Miami gallery again. We don’t want to see him again on Miami television as an honored guest, pontificating about his warped version of freedom and democracy.
We want to see him punished. For the sake of the little nine year old girl whose body was blown to pieces by his bombs, we want him punished. For the sake of Nancy Uranga, a pregnant 22 year old fencer from Cuba, we want him punished. For the sake of the families of the 73 passengers aboard Cubana de Aviación 455, we want him punished.
For Carlos Alberto Cremata and his brothers who were mere teen-agers when they lost their father, their inspiration and their friend, Carlos Cremata Trujillo. For Margarita Morales who lost her father, Julio—the fencing team’s trainer. For Odalys Pérez, whose father Wilfredo bravely piloted the doomed plane away from Paradise Beach to avoid crashing it into the beachgoers on shore. For Camilo Rojo, whose memories of his father, Jesús, are the incomplete memories of a toddler.
For their sake, and for the sake of the pain they have endured for the past thirty years. For the pain of growing up without a father or a mother or a brother or a sister or a spouse, we want him punished. In Caracas, in Washington, or right here in front of the White House, in Lafayette Park, if you prefer.
We want this terrorist punished for his crimes, and Venezuela will not rest unless and until justice is served.
José Pertierra is an attorney, practicing in Washington, D.C. He represents the Venezuelan government in the case of Luis Posada Carriles.
From: Daniel del Solar
cell 510 290 3022
Friday, May 19, 2006
Interview with Malcolm X
By A.B. Spellman, Monthly Review, Vol.16 no.1, May 1964
[The following interview with Malcolm X, formerly the minister of the New York City and Washington, D.C. mosques of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, headed by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, was held on March 19, 1964. The interview, conducted by poet and jazz critic A.B. Spellman, appeared simultaneously in Monthly Review and Revolution.]
The Muslims, as the Nation of Islam is called, stress the futility of the integrationist program. They argue that there is no precedent for the absorption of Negroes into the greater white American mainstream in fact or in history, that integrationists are asking for something the American socioeconomic system is inherently unable to give them -- mass class mobility, so that at best Negroes can expect from the integrationist program a hopeless entry into the lowest levels of a working class already disenfranchised by automation.
The Muslims tell Negroes to be proud of their African heritage, to make a new identity for themselves by adopting an X or a Muslim surname and dropping their slave name, thereby severing all ties with a history of subservience to whites. The Muslims have urged Negroes to be polite in their dealings with whites and to be non-violent, even if provoked. But if attacked, the Muslims say, a Negro should defend himself by any means at his disposal. The Muslim solution to the race problem in America is separation of the races, either in the allocation to Negroes of several states in the South or the repatriation of Negroes to Africa. (The separatist solution has been in the programs of several movements varying in size and appeal since the early nineteenth century, culminating in the Garvey movement which, though irreparably fragmented, still has considerable appeal in many major Negro communities.) Estimates of Muslim membership have ranged from 10,000 to 250,000.
There had been rumors for some months to the effect that a split was developing in the upper ranks of Muslim leadership between a conservative and highly religiously-oriented faction led by Mr. Muhammad's family (which controls all the money) and a political activist faction led by Malcolm X. The split came early this March when Malcolm left the Nation of Islam to start an all-black political party. Malcolm is an overwhelming public speaker, particularly in Harlem where his positive demagogy is unchallengeable in the hearts and eyes of his audience, and in question and answer, or in debating situations where the stark realities of his uncompromising ghetto-eyed point of view can usually embarrass his antagonist, especially if that opponent is a black or white liberal. Malcolm is a product of the ghetto. He is the crystallization of whatever revolutionary impulse exists in the ghetto. He is an organizer and administrator of proven ability. For these reasons, he has the potential of becoming one of the really major revolutionists in America today.
SPELLMAN: Please answer these charges that are often raised against you: That you are as racist as Hitler and the Klan, etc. That you are anti-Semitic. That you advocate mob violence.
MALCOLM X: No, we're not racists at all. Our brotherhood is based on the fact that we are all black, brown, red, or yellow. We don't call this racism, any more than you could refer to the European Common Market which consists of Europeans, which means that it consists of white-skin people -- is not referred to as a racist coalition -- it's referred to as the European Common Market, an economic group -- while our desire for unity among black, brown, red, and yellow is for brotherhood -- has nothing to do with racism, has nothing to do with Hitler, has nothing to do with the Klan -- in fact, the Klan in this country was designed to perpetuate an injustice upon Negroes; whereas the Muslims are designed to eliminate the injustice that has been perpetuated upon the so-called Negro.
We're anti-exploitation and in this country the Jews have been located in the so-called Negro community as merchants and businessmen for so long that they feel guilty when you mention that the exploiters of Negroes are Jews. This doesn't mean that we are anti-Jews or anti-Semitic -- we're anti-exploitation.
No. We have never been involved in any kind of violence whatsoever. We have never initiated any violence against anyone, but we do believe that when violence is practiced against us we should be able to defend ourselves. We don't believe in turning the other cheek.
SPELLMAN: Why did you find it necessary to split with the Nation of Islam?
MALCOLM X: Well, I did encounter opposition within the Nation the of Islam. Many obstacles were placed in my path, not by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, but by others who were around him and since I believe that his analysis of the race problem is the best one and his solution is the only one, I felt that I could best circumvent these obstacles and expedite his program better by remaining out of the Nation of Islam and establishing a Muslim group that is an action group designed to eliminate the same ills that the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad have made so manifest in this country.
SPELLMAN: What is the name of the organization that you have founded?
MALCOLM X: The Muslim Mosque Inc., which means we are still Muslims -- we still worship in a mosque and we're incorporated as a religious body.
SPELLMAN: Can other Muslims work with the Muslim Mosque Inc. without leaving the Nation of Islam?
MALCOLM X: Oh yes. Yes anyone who is in the Nation of Islam who wants to work with us and remain in the Nation of Islam, is welcome. I am a follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad -- I believe in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The only reason I am in the Muslim Mosque Inc. is because I feel I can better expedite his program by being free of the restraint and the other obstacles that I encountered in the Nation.
SPELLMAN: Will you have access to Muhammad Speaks?
MALCOLM X: Probably not. No, I very much doubt that the same forces which forced me out would permit me access to the Muhammad Speaks newspaper as an organ although I am the founder of the paper, the originator of the paper. Few people realize it -- I was the one who originated Muhammad Speaks. The initial editions were written entirely by me in my basement.
SPELLMAN: Will you start another publication?
MALCOLM X: Yes. One of the best ways to propagate any idea is with a publication of some sort and if Allah blesses us with success we will have another publication. We'll probably name it the Flaming Crescentbecause we want to set the world on fire.
SPELLMAN: How religious is the Muslim Mosque Inc.? Will it be more politically oriented?
MALCOLM X: The Muslim Mosque Inc. will have as its religious base the religion of Islam which will be designed to propagate the moral reformation necessary to up the level of the so-called Negro community by eliminating the vices and other evils that destroy the moral fiber of the community -- this is the religious base. But the political philosophy of the Muslim Mosque will be black nationalism, the economic philosophy will be black nationalism, and the social philosophy will be black nationalism. And by political philosophy I mean we still believe in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's solution as complete separation. The 22,000,000 so-called Negroes should be separated completely from America and should be permitted to go back home to our African homeland which is a long-range program; so the short-range program is that we must eat while we're still here, we must have a place to sleep, we have clothes to wear, we must have better jobs, we must have better education; so that although our long-range political philosophy is to migrate back to our African homeland, our short-range program must involve that which is necessary to enable us to live a better life while we are still here. We must be in complete control of the politics of the so-called Negro community; we must gain complete control over the politicians in the so-called Negro community, so that no outsider will have any voice in the so-called Negro community. We'll do it ourselves.
SPELLMAN: Whom do you hope to draw from in organizing this political movement -- what kind of people?
MALCOLM X: All -- we're flexible -- a variety. But our accent will be upon youth. We've already issued a call for the students in the colleges and universities across the country to launch their own independent studies of the race problem in he country and then bring their analyses and their suggestions for a new approach back to us so that we can devise an action program geared to their thinking. The accent is on youth because the youth have less at stake in this corrupt system and therefore can look at it more objectively, whereas the adults usually have a stake in this corrupt system and they lose their ability to look at it objectively because of their stake in it.
SPELLMAN: Do you expect to draw from the Garveyite groups?
MALCOLM X: All groups -- Nationalist, Christians, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists, anything. Everybody who is interested in solving the problem is given an invitation to become actively involved with either suggestions or ideas or something.
SPELLMAN: Will the organization be national?
MALCOLM X: National? I have gotten already an amazing number of letters from student groups at college campuses across the country expressing a desire to become involved in a united front in this new idea that we have.
SPELLMAN: What kind of coalition do you plan to make? Can whites join the Muslim Mosque Inc.?
MALCOLM X: Whites can't join us. Everything that whites join that Negroes have they end up out-joining the Negroes. The whites control all Negro organizations that they can join -- they end up in control of those organizations. If whites want to help us financially we will accept their financial help, but we will never let them join us.
SPELLMAN: Then black leadership is necessary?
MALCOLM X: Absolutely black leadership.
SPELLMAN: Will you work with the so-called established civil rights organizations?
MALCOLM X: Well, we will work with them in any area and on any objective that doesn't conflict with our own political, economic, and social philosophy which is black nationalism. I might add that I was invited to attend a civil rights group meeting where all of the various civil rights organizations were present and I was invited to address them in Chester, Pennsylvania. Gloria Richardson was there; Landrey, the head of the Chicago School Boycott, was there; Dick Gregory was there; many others were there; the Rochedale movement was there. Now my address to them was designed to show them that if they would expand their civil rights movement to a human rights movement it would internationalize it. Now, as a civil rights movement, it remains within the confines of American domestic policy and no African independent nations can open up their mouths on American domestic affairs, whereas if they expanded the civil rights movement to a human rights movement then they would be eligible to take the case of the Negro to the United Nations the same as the case of the Angolans is in the UN and the case of the South Africans is in the UN. Once the civil rights movement is expanded to a human rights movement our African brothers and our Asian brothers and Latin American brothers can place it on the agenda at the General Assembly that is coming up this year and Uncle Sam has no more say-so in it then. And we have friends outside the UN -- 700,000,000 Chinese who are ready to die for human rights.
SPELLMAN: Do you intend to collaborate with such other groups as labor unions or socialist groups or any other groups?
MALCOLM X: We will work with anybody who is sincerely interested in eliminating injustices that Negroes suffer at the hands of Uncle Sam.
SPELLMAN: What is your evaluation of the civil rights movement at this point?
MALCOLM X: It has run its -- it's at the end of its leash.
SPELLMAN: What groups do you consider most promising?
MALCOLM X: I know of no group that is promising unless it's radical. If it's not radical it is in no way involved effectively in the present struggle.
SPELLMAN: Some local civil rights leaders lave said they'd welcome your support, some national leaders have said they want nothing to do with you, what is your reaction?
MALCOLM X: Well, the local civil rights leaders are usually involved right in the midst of the situation. They see it as it is and they realize that it takes a combination of groups to attack the problem most effectively and, also, most local civil rights leaders have more independence of action and usually they are more in tune and in touch with the people. But the national leaders of the civil rights movement are out of touch with the problem and usually they are paid leaders. The local leaders usually have a job and they lean against the local situation on the side, but the nationally known leaders are paid. They are full-time leaders, they are professional leaders and whoever pays their salary has a great say-so in what they do and what they don't do, so naturally the ones who pay the salaries of these nationally known Negro leaders are the white liberals and white liberals are shocked and frightened whenever you mention anything about some X's.
SPELLMAN: What is your attitude toward Christian-Gandhian groups?
MALCOLM X: Christian? Gandhian? I don't go for anything that's non-violent and turn-the-other-cheekish. I don't see how any revolution -- I've never heard of a non-violent revolution or a revolution that was brought about by turning the other cheek, and so I believe that it is a crime for anyone to teach a person who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself. If this is what the Christian-Gandhian philosophy teaches then it is criminal -- a criminal philosophy.
SPELLMAN: Does the Muslim Mosque Inc. oppose integration and intermarriage?
MALCOLM X: We don't have to oppose integration because the white integrationists themselves oppose it. Proof of which, it doesn't exist anywhere where white people say they are for it. There's just no such thing as integration anywhere, but we do oppose intermarriage. We are as much against intermarriage as we are against all of the other injustices that our people have encountered.
SPELLMAN: What is the program for achieving your goals of separation?
MALCOLM X: A better word to use than separation is independence. This word separation is misused. The 13 colonies separated from England but they called it the Declaration of Independence; they don't call it the Declaration of Separation, They call it the Declaration of Independence. When you're independent of someone you can separate from them. If you can't separate from them it means you're not independent of them. So, your question was what?
SPELLMAN: What is your program for achieving your goals of independence?
MALCOLM X: When the black man in this country awakens, becomes intellectually mature and able to think for himself, you will then see that the only way he will become independent and recognized as a human being on the basis of equality with all other human beings, he has to have what they have and he has to be doing for himself what others are doing for themselves so the first step is to awaken him to this and that is where the religion of Islam makes him morally more able to rise above the evils and the vices of an immoral society and the political, economic, and social philosophy of black nationalism instills within him the racial dignity and the incentive and the confidence that he needs to stand on his own feet and take a stand for himself.
SPELLMAN: Do you plan to employ any kind of mass action?
MALCOLM X: Oh, yes.
SPELLMAN: What kinds?
MALCOLM X: We'd rather not say at this time, but we definitely plan to employ mass action.
SPELLMAN: How about the vote -- will the Muslim Mosque Inc. run its own candidates or support other candidates?
MALCOLM X: Since the political structure is what has been used to exploit the so-called Negroes, we intend to gather together all of the brilliant minds of students, not the adult politicians who are part of the corruption but the students of political science, we intend to gather all of them together and get their findings, get their analyses, get their suggestions, and, out of these suggestions we will devise an approach that will enable us to attack the politicians and the political structure where it hurts the most, in order to get a change.
SPELLMAN: If the Muslim Mosque Inc. joined in a demonstration sponsored by a non-violent organization, and whites countered with violence, how would your organization react?
MALCOLM X: We are non-violent only with non-violent people -- I'm non-violent as long as somebody else is non-violent -- as soon as they get violent they nullify my non-violence.
SPELLMAN: A lot of leaders of other organizations have said they would welcome your help but they qualify that by saying if you follow our philosophy. Would you work with them under these circumstances?
MALCOLM X: We can work with all groups in anything but at no time will we give up our right to defend ourselves. We'll never become involved in any kind of action that deprives us of our right to defend ourselves if we are attacked.
SPELLMAN: How would the Muslim Mosque Inc. handle a Birmingham, Danville, or Cambridge -- what do you think should have been done?
MALCOLM X: In Birmingham, since the government has proven itself either unable or unwilling to step in and find those who are guilty and bring them to justice, it becomes necessary for the so-called Negro who was the victim to do this himself, and he would be upholding his constitutional rights by so doing, and Article 2 of the constitution -- it says concerning the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights: A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Negroes don't realize this, that they are within their constitutional rights to own a rifle, to own a shotgun, and when the bigoted white supremacists realize that they are dealing with Negroes who are ready to give their lives in defense of life and property, then these bigoted whites will change their whole strategy and their whole attitude.
SPELLMAN: You've said this will be the most violent year in the history of race relations in America. Elaborate.
MALCOLM X: Yes. Because the Negro has already given up on non-violence. This new-thinking Negro is beginning to realize that when he demonstrates for what the government says are his rights then the law should be on his side. Anyone standing in front of him reclaiming his rights is breaking the law. Now, you're not going to have a law-breaking element inflicting violence upon Negroes who are trying to implement the law, so that when they begin to see this, like this, they are going to strike back. In 1964 you'll find Negroes will strike back, there never will be non-violence anymore, that has run out.
SPELLMAN: What is your evaluation of Monroe?
MALCOLM X: I'm not too up on the situation in Monroe, N.C. I do know that Robert Williams became an exile from this country simply because he was trying to get our people to defend themselves against the Klu Klux Klan and other white supremacist elements, and also May Mallory was given 20 years or something like that because she was also trying to fight the place of our people down there; so this gives you an idea of what happens in a democracy -- in a so-called democracy -- when people try to implement that democracy.
SPELLMAN: You often use the word revolution, is there a revolution underway in America now?
MALCOLM X: There hasn't been. Revolution is like a forest fire. It burns everything in its path. The people who are involved in a revolution don't become a part of the system -- they destroy the system, they change the system. The genuine word for a revolution is Umwalzung which means a complete overturning and a complete change and the Negro Revolution is no revolution because it condemns the system and then asks the system that it has condemned to accept them into their system. That's not a revolution -- a revolution changes the system, it destroys the system and replaces it with a better one. It's like a forest fire like I said -- it burns everything in its path and the only way to stop a forest fire from burning down your house is to ignite a fire that you control and use it against the fire that is burning out of control. What the white man in America has done, he realizes that there is a Black Revolution all over the world -- a non-white revolution all over the world -- and he sees it sweeping down upon America and in order to hold it back he ignited an artificial fire which he has named the Negro Revolt and he is using the Negro Revolt against the real Black Revolution that is going on all over this earth.
SPELLMAN: Can the race problem in America be solved under the existing political-economic system?
MALCOLM X: No.
SPELLMAN: Well then, what is the answer?
MALCOLM X: It answers itself.
SPELLMAN: Can there be any revolutionary change in America while the hostility between black and white working classes exists? Can Negroes do it alone?
MALCOLM X: Yes. They'll never do it with working-class whites. The history of America is that working-class whites have been just as much against not only working-class Negroes, but all Negroes, period, because all Negroes are working class within the caste system. The richest Negro is treated like a working-class Negro. There never has been any good relationship between the working-class Negro and the working-class whites. I just don't go along with -- there can be no worker solidarity until there's first some black solidarity. There can be no white/black solidarity until there's first some black solidarity. We have got to get our problems solved first and then if there's anything left to work on the white man's problems, good, but I think one of the mistakes Negroes make is this worker solidarity thing. There's no such thing -- it didn't even work in Russia. Right now it was supposedly solved in Russia but as soon as they got their problems solved they fell out with China.
SPELLMAN: Will the Muslim Mosque Inc. identify with non-white revolutionary movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America?
MALCOLM X: We are all brothers of oppression and today brothers of oppression are identified with each other all over the world.
SPELLMAN: Is there anything else you want to say?
MALCOLM X: No. I've said enough -- maybe I've said too much.
Malcolm X on Lumumba
By Malcolm X, 28 June and 28 November 1964
[From] Speeches by Malcolm X. The first part was given at a rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (a movement he founded) held on June 28, 1964, at the Audubon Ballroom in New York. The second is from a radio broadcast on New York station WMCA on Nov. 28, 1964.
Lumumba [is] the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent. He didn’t fear anybody. He had those people so scared they had to kill him. They couldn’t buy him, they couldn’t frighten him, they couldn’t reach him. Why, he told the king of Belgium, Man, you may let us free, you may have given us our independence, but we can never forget these scars. The greatest speech—you should take that speech and tack it up over your door. This is what Lumumba said: You aren’t giving us anything. Why, can you take back these scars that you put on our bodies? Can you give us back the limbs that you cut off while you were here?
No, you should never forget what that man did to you. And you bear the scars of the same kind of colonization and oppression not on your body, but in your brain, in your heart, in your soul, right now.
I think too much time is spent by newspapers, commentators, and some of these so-called scientists who are supposed to be authorities trying to prove that the Congolese are savage, that they are not fully developed, that they are not able to govern themselves. Most of the things that we’ve seen in print usually are designed toward that end, and this is not done actually to prove that they are savage as much as it is done to justify what the Western powers are doing in the Congo, or the presence of the Western powers in the Congo, and primarily the presence of the United States.
The basic cause of most of the trouble in the Congo right now is the intervention of outsiders—the fighting that is going on over the mineral wealth of the Congo and over the strategic position that the Congo represents on the African continent. And in order to justify it, they are doing it at the expense of the Congolese, by trying to make it appear that the people are savages. And I think, as one of the gentlemen mentioned earlier, if there are savages in the Congo then there are worse savages in Mississippi, Alabama, and New York City, and probably some in Washington, D.C., too.
Malcolm X on Wealth of Africa
Excerpt from a speech given by Malcolm X at the University of Ghana, 13 May 1964
I intend for my talk to be very informal, because our position in America is an informal position, [Laughter] and I find that it is very difficult to use formal terms to describe a very informal position. No condition of any people on earth is more deplorable than the condition, or plight, of the twenty-two million Black people in America. And our condition is so deplorable because we are in a country that professes to be a democracy and professes to be striving to give justice and freedom and equality to everyone who is born under its constitution. If we were born in South Africa or in Angola or some part of this earth where they don’t profess to be for freedom,1 that would be another thing; but when we are born in a country that stands up and represents itself as the leader of the Free World, and you still have to beg and crawl just to get a chance to drink a cup of coffee, then the condition is very deplorable indeed.
‘A victim of Americanism’
So tonight, so that you will understand me and why I speak as I do, it should probably be pointed out at the outset that I am not a politician. I don’t know anything about politics. I’m from America but I’m not an American. I didn’t go there of my own free choice. [Applause] If I were an American there would be no problem, there’d be no need for legislation or civil rights or anything else. So I just try to face the fact as it actually is and come to this meeting as one of the victims of America, one of the victims of Americanism, one of the victims of democracy, one of the victims of a very hypocritical system that is going all over this earth today representing itself as being qualified to tell other people how to run their country when they can’t get the dirty things that are going on in their own country straightened out. [Applause]
So if someone else from America comes to you to speak, they’re probably speaking as Americans, and they speak as people who see America through the eyes of an American. And usually those types of persons refer to America, or that which exists in America, as the American Dream. But for the twenty million of us in America who are of African descent, it is not an American dream; it’s an American nightmare. [Laughter]
I don’t feel that I am a visitor in Ghana or in any part of Africa. I feel that I am at home. I’ve been away for four hundred years, [Laughter] but not of my own volition, not of my own will. Our people didn’t go to America on the Queen Mary, we didn’t go by Pan American, and we didn’t go to America on the Mayflower. We went in slave ships, we went in chains. We weren’t immigrants to America, we were cargo for purposes of a system that was bent upon making a profit. So this is the category or level of which I speak. I may not speak it in the language many of you would use, but I think you will understand the meaning of my terms.
When I was in Ibadan [in Nigeria] at the University of Ibadan last Friday night, the students there gave me a new name, which I go for—meaning I like it. [Laughter] Omowale, which they say means in Yoruba—if I am pronouncing that correctly, and if I am not pronouncing it correctly it’s because I haven’t had a chance to pronounce it for four hundred years [Laughter]—which means in that dialect, The child has returned. It was an honor for me to be referred to as a child who had sense enough to return to the land of his forefathers—to his fatherland and to his motherland. Not sent back here by the State Department, [Laughter] but come back here of my own free will. [Applause]
I am happy and I imagine, since it is the policy that whenever a Black man leaves America and travels in any part of Africa, or Asia, or Latin America and says things contrary to what the American propaganda machine turns out, usually he finds upon his return home that his passport is lifted. Well, if they had not wanted me to say the things I am saying, they should never have given me a passport in the first place. The policy usually is the lifting of the passport. Now I am not here to condemn America, I am not here to make America look bad, but I am here to tell you the truth about the situation that Black people in America find themselves confronted with. And if truth condemns America, then she stands condemned. [Applause]
This is the most beautiful continent that I’ve ever seen; it’s the richest continent I’ve ever seen, and strange as it may seem, I find many white Americans here smiling in the faces of our African brothers like they have been loving them all of the time. [Laughter and applause] The fact is, these same whites who in America spit in our faces, the same whites who in America club us brutally, the same whites who in America sic their dogs upon us, just because we want to be free human beings, the same whites who turn their water hoses upon our women and our babies because we want to integrate with them, are over here in Africa smiling in your face trying to integrate with you. [Laughter] I had to write a letter back home yesterday and tell some of my friends that if American Negroes want integration, they should come to Africa, because more white people over here—white Americans, that is—look like they are for integration than there is in the entire American country. [Laughter] But actually what it is, they want to integrate with the wealth that they know is here—the untapped natural resources which exceed the wealth of any continent on this earth today.
When I was coming from Lagos to Accra Sunday, I was riding on an airplane with a white man who represented some of the interests, you know, that are interested in Africa. And he admitted—at least it was his impression—that our people in Africa didn’t know how to measure wealth, that they worship wealth in terms of gold and silver, not in terms of the natural resources that are in the earth, and that as long as the Americans or other imperialists or twentieth-century colonialists could continue to make the Africans measure wealth in terms of gold and silver, they never would have an opportunity to really measure the value of the wealth that is in the soil, and would continue to think that it is they who need the Western powers instead of thinking that it is the Western powers who need the people and the continent that is known as Africa.
Monday, May 15, 2006
"US Hands Off Venezuela and Cuba" on May 20
by Ike Nahem
For details on Detroit area transportation to the May 20 Mobilization in Washington, D.C. visit the MECAWI web site at http://www.mecawi.org
On May 20 there will be significant demonstrations in the US cities of Washington, DC and Los Angeles demanding "US Hands Off Venezuela and Cuba." The actions were called by a broad coalition of Venezuela, Cuba, and Latin America-oriented solidarity groups; national and community-based anti-war, labor, Black rights, Latino rights, immigrant workers, women's rights, civil liberties, and progressive organizations; as well as prominent individuals including Noam Chomsky, Danny Glover, and Cindy Sheehan.
There will also be international solidarity actions on that day in a number of countries, including Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Australia, and Canada. (For a complete list of the demands of the protest, the Official Call for the demonstration in English and Spanish, and a continually updated list of endorsers see the Web Site of the May 20 Hands Off Venezuela and Cuba Coalition at: http://www.may20coalition.org
While the size of these actions will likely be modest compared to the recent massive explosions of protests by immigrant workers, or the largest protests against Washington's invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq, nevertheless the May 20 actions will be historic. Why is this? Because May 20 will be the first national action that highlights and focuses on what is going to become a central issue in US and thereby world politics in the coming years, with huge stakes for Washington, and the greatest danger of conflagration on a massive hemispheric scale: the growing confrontation between Washington and the resurgent popular anti-imperialist struggles in Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean. May 20 will unite forces inside the US that will be a determined and committed obstacle to Washington's aggressive plans against Cuba and Venezuela.
It has been obvious for nearly a decade that historic transformations are taking place in what the Cuban patriot Jose Marti called "Our America." Popular struggles are becoming generalized and permanent, are throwing up governments that are responding to one degree or another to the demands of the oppressed and exploited majority, and are coming into conflict with the regressive and socially devastating policies pushed by Washington and the Latin American oligarchies which are subservient to US and European capital. The unfolding events are engendering a major crisis in US foreign policy.
At the center of this crisis is the survival and now accumulating economic, social, and political progress and strength of the Cuban Revolution, and the rise of the unfolding Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela which is capturing the heart and imagination of a new generation of revolutionary-minded youth and others throughout the Americas. We can also add the inspiring example and policies of progressive and revolutionary changes now taking place in Bolivia since the election of Evo Morales as President. The Bush Administration, with bipartisan support in the US Congress, has campaigned unrelentingly, if so far ineffectively, against the governments of Cuba and Venezuela as the leading wedge of Washington and Wall Street's frustrated,
but very serious, campaign against the mounting popular struggles in Latin America and the Caribbean.
May 20 is the day when the Bush Administration releases another lengthy report of its so-called "Commission for Assistance for a Free Cuba." Bush is scheduled to announce new policy sanctions against the revolutionary government and people of Cuba wrapped with the usual anti-Cuba boilerplate. The report, in great detail, completely oblivious to the actual reality inside Cuba, will huff and puff with the usual smug arrogance that assigns Washington the right to determine the economic, social, and political system in Cuba.
Similarly, top Washington spokespeople, from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, throughout 2006 have been ratcheting up a campaign of disinformation and provocations against the government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan people, especially workers and peasants who have greatly benefited from the social and economic policies of the Bolivarian government.
Washington particularly finds unacceptable the collaboration between Venezuela and Cuba in programs that have combined Venezuelan resources with Cuban "human capital" in amazing programs, called misiones in Venezuela, where tens of thousands of Cuban doctors, nurses, teachers, and athletic professionals have wiped out illiteracy and provided 10 million working-class and other Venezuelans with access to quality and effective medical care. These programs are now being extended to Bolivia where the first wave of Cuban doctors have been dispatched to the poorest Bolivian communities since the stunning electoral victory of Evo Morales in December 2005. These are dangerous examples that eloquently-in practice-show that dependence on the charity of Washington and obeisance to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the "invisible hand" of the "free market" is the road to ruin for working people and that there is an alternative to imperialist domination.
Washington-Democrats and Republicans, liberal and conservative politicians-correctly see a threat to their continued domination in Venezuela's calls for increased solidarity and integration in Latin America. Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean have for centuries been a primary source of wealth for European and US imperialism based on the super-exploitation, backed up by ruthless military force, of the oppressed peoples of the Americas. The list of US-organized and sustained military dictatorships put in power to protect Wall Street's economic prerogatives is a long one. But Washington failed in its attempt to repeat this wretched history in Venezuela in April 2004.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the "Cold War," and the economic crisis and political isolation of revolutionary Cuba during the so-called "Special Period" of the 1990s, Washington expected the "Cuban virus" to be eliminated. Instead Cuba has not only survived, but with the victory of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and the wave of popular and anti-imperialist struggle throughout the southern Hemisphere, is undergoing a full economic recovery, with some of the highest growth rates in the world, and greater political confidence and resonance throughout the world than ever.
In reality the end of the "Cold War"-which never ended in Washington-Havana relations-has actually left Washington relatively weaker politically to apply military force and decisive violence through proxy forces in Latin America.
For the first time ever, when Washington organized a military coup in Venezuela in April 2002 it was defeated by mass counter-mobilizations and Washington was forced to retreat and pathetically hasten to cover up its tracks. A concerted effort at economic sabotage and disruption in Venezuela the following year was also decisively defeated by the production workers in the crucial oil industry and the entire working class. Finally, an attempt to win a recall referendum vote on the continuation of the Chavez government, also went down in blazing defeat when Chavez won 60% of the vote. Washington backed all these efforts at "regime change" and each failure further radicalized the unfolding revolutionary process in Venezuela.
Of course Washington has not and can not give up. The stakes are too high for Wall Street profits and the stability and viability of the entire structure of imperialist domination and rule. What Cuba and Venezuela represent, the positive example of putting the interests and power of working people first, the alternative to imperialist domination, must be destroyed. Everything they do aims to create the conditions for aggression. Washington understands, however, that these conditions do not exist at the present time.
Events over the past few days have underscored why it is crucial to build May 20. On May 1 Bolivian President Evo Morales dramatically announced that Bolivia's energy industry would be nationalized, fullfilling a longstanding demand of the overwhelming majority of the Bolivian people, who since the Spanish conquerers looted Bolivian silver mines from the 17th Century, have seen their country's vast natural and mineral wealth exploited by imperialist looters while the indigenous, working-class, and peasant majority has been impoverished and oppressed. The new government of President Morales, who had just returned from Havana, where, in a ceremony with Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivia joined the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), has give a clear signal that the days of servitute and labor for the obscene wealth of a handful of bankers and bosses in the imperialist countries is over, and that Bolivia is going to become, along with Cuba and Venezuela, part of the vanguard for revolutionary change and social transformation in "our America." Of course this has not sit well with Washington and the European imperialist powers who, along with the big-business media, have emitted howls of cynical and arrogant protest at the measures of the Morales government, as they did a few weeks ago when the Chavez government took similar measures against Spanish and French oil monopolies operating in Venezuela.
Washington and its lackeys in Latin America are starting to pull out all the stops to prevent electoral victories of forces in Peru and Mexico they deem to be part of the pattern of anti-imperialist upsurge sweeping the South American continent. The neoliberal candidates in Peru and Mexico seem to be running more against Hugo Chavez and now Evo Morales that their opponents on the ballot. In recent days, European imperialist pressure, at the IV Summit of the European Union, Latin America, and the Caribbean, was intensified against President Morales, who vigorously defended the recent gas and energy nationalizations. Strong pressure has been exerted to divide the Latin American states, especially on Brazil, as a way to press the Morales government.
All of this underscores the importance of the May 20 demonstrations. The importance of the May 20 demonstrations is that it is the first step, the beginning, the marking and turning point for building a national, mass movement that will be able to mobilize tens of thousands and millions inside the United States. Such a movement will not only oppose US policies but will also inform and educate North American working people and young people who will be attracted to the revolutionary struggles for historic change.
Struggles inside the US to defend our living standards and rights which are under assault by US big business and its two-party system of corrupt rule that drives working people out of politics, will be consciously linked to the struggle of our sisters and brothers throughout the Americas. The growing presence in the US working class of millions of immigrant workers from Latin America, who bring with them the combatitive traditions of class consciousness and struggle from their native lands will make this task easier not harder. The explosion of immigrant workers protests inside the US is directly connected to what is happening politically in Latin America.
May 20 is an anticipation and gathering of forces for the coming dangerous period ahead. We can be sure that these epochal issues and struggles are not going away and can only intensify.
All Out for May 20!
Ike Nahem was one of the initiators of the May 20 Hands Off Venezuela and Cuba Coalition. He is the co-ordinator of Cuba Solidarity New York, a member of the National Network on Cuba. Nahem is a locomotive engineer in New York City and a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive engineers and Trainmen, which is a division of theTeamsters Union. The views expressed here are his personal opinions.
Activists see this as escalation of anti-immigrant backlash
Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire
DETROIT--A group of local activists rallied today outside the Immigration offices in Detroit, located on East Jefferson at Mt. Elliot, to protest a raid that was held Friday on the southwest side.
The raids were conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. According to witnesses anywhere between 16 and 30 people were arrested.
Activists claim that this was a direct response to the mass demonstrations that have been held in recent weeks in support of the civil rights of the immigrant community in the United States. The local affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR) reported that 15 of those who were arrested in the raid were released on bond. At least one was immediately deported from the United States.
At today's event, several activists spoke out against the raids as well as the Bush administration's plans to send 6,000 national guard troops to the border with Mexico.
During the rally one man came into the crowd and began screaming about the need to protect US borders and for all immigration to be legal. David Sole of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) took the bullhorn and stated that "the only people who are truly legal in this country are the Native Americans."
One slogan advanced by the crowd was "Build Levies, Not Walls". During the demonstration an ICE official came out from the public relations division to make a statement to the media. At the same time during the demonstration, several federal police agents periodically walked around the crowd with their guns visible in a holster. The crowd was also monitored from an upstairs window at the building.
There have been two major marches in Detroit over the last several weeks. The March 27 demonstration attracted tens of thousands of people from the Latino community on the southwest side. The event was held in opposition to the passage of HR 4437. This march and rally took place in conjunction with similar actions across the United States.
Again on May 1, the Latino community held a rally and march in connection with the "Day Without Immigrants" national mobilization.
In Bush's adress on national television tonight, he confirmed plans to further militarize the border with Mexico.
Below are announcement for today's demonstration as well as an article that appeared on the front page of the Detroit Free Press.
On Friday, May 12th, there was a raid in our community and several people were taken by Homeland Security (ICE). We understand that several people were taken away in three unmarked vans, and the witnesses stated that the agents told the people that no warrants were needed. About 30 people are believed to have been taken.
While we do not have the experience here to know how to respond to such atrocities, we know that we cannot stand idly by. This is a terrifying time in our history in Detroit; not since the repatriation of the 1930s has our community been under such siege.
Please join us at Jefferson and Mt Eliot tomorrow at 12:00 noon to protest the raids and strategize on how to protect our community from further aggression.
LOCAL REACTION: Activists say troops not answer
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
May 15, 2006
At 8 tonight, President George W. Bush will address the nation from the Oval Office.
The president will highlight his plans to curb illegal immigration and improve border security.
The major networks are expected to carry the speech live.
Rally in Detroit
A rally is planned for noon today outside the federal immigration office at 333 Mt. Elliott St., off Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. The demonstrators plan to protest the raids Friday in southwest Detroit that resulted in the arrests of 17 immigrants suspected of living in the United States illegally.
The Canadian border
The border between Canada and the United States is often called the world's longest undefended border between two countries.
The Detroit-Windsor connection is its busiest point. The two main crossings locally are the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. About 9.4 million vehicles crossed the bridge last year.
Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks, officials have taken a closer look at security along the border. In his speech tonight, President George W. Bush is expected to focus on security at the border with Mexico. But the Bush administration previously has called for a plan that would require people to have passports to cross the U.S.-Canada border. Some say that would greatly decrease tourism on both sides, because only 22% of Americans and 38% of Canadians have passports.
The U.S. Coast Guard is beefing up security on the waterways along the U.S.-Canada border. Over the past year, it has conducted security and terrorism exercises with Canadian law enforcement.
Most undocumented immigrants come through the United States' southern border, but over the past year, enforcement agents have caught people trying to smuggle immigrants from Asian countries into Detroit from Canada.
Associated Press, Free Press staff
Concerned about immigration raids in metro Detroit, activists are planning to rally today in front of a federal immigration office in Detroit as the Bush administration considers the deployment of troops along the Mexican border to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants.
The arrests Friday of 17 immigrants in southwest Detroit suspected of living in the country illegally has unnerved the local Hispanic community and underscored tensions over what to do about the country's millions of undocumented immigrants.
At noon today, people protesting the raids plan to rally outside the federal building on Mt. Elliott Street, off Jefferson. Tonight, President George W. Bush may announce in a televised speech that he plans to ask the Pentagon to deploy National Guard troops along the U.S. border with Mexico.
But immigrants and their advocates in metro Detroit say that in addition to border security, Bush should announce plans to help undocumented immigrants become U.S. citizens.
"The country has a right to a safe border, but let's do it in a smart way," said Juan Escareno, an immigrant organizer with the Detroit-based coalition MOSES, or Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength. "If we focus only on border security and don't look at the whole picture, we're doomed to commit the same mistakes. ... Every time you increase border security, there is an increase in immigration because people are going to find a way here."
Escareno, who helped organize recent immigration rallies in Detroit, said Bush should help put "undocumented immigrants living here on a path to citizenship."
Bush's planned speech comes at time of anxiety for some Detroit immigrants. The raids Friday took place at homes in southwest Detroit, considered the center of the Mexican-American community in the region.
Agents with the fugitive operations team of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were looking for three immigrants who had ignored previous deportation orders, said Michael Keegan, a spokesman for the agency.
The agents found only one of the targeted immigrants, but ended up arresting 16 others who were suspected of living in the country without proper documentation, Keegan said.
Those arrested included children, said Elena Herrada, a Detroit activist.
"It's really scary," Herrada said. "They can just go in your home and take you away."
Herrada said the country needs an amnesty plan for the millions of undocumented immigrants to help them become citizens. Regarding Bush's possible call for deploying troops along the border, Herrada said the U.S. military is already overstretched with operations around the world.
"Where are they going to come from?" she asked.
Local legislators will be paying attention to what Bush says.
But one said more than troops are necessary to solve the
"The notion that we're going to somehow police ourselves out of an immigration problem is a far-fetched promise," said state Rep. Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit, whose district is made up of large numbers of immigrants from Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.
Moreover, he said he had some questions as to how such a policy would be implemented: How much would it cost? Would it be an imposition on the armed forces? Who would pay for it?
Bush should talk about comprehensive immigration reform and how immigrants can become U.S. citizens, he said.
"People who are working, contribute to the economy, particularly those who have established employment history, and have skills and education, we should figure out how to welcome those," Tobocman said.
Isabella Ramirez, a Detroit resident who often assists immigrants, said that Bush should address how to deal with the 100,000 to 150,000 undocumented immigrants living in Michigan. They're among the 11 million to 12 million such people in the United States, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
"I agree with him that there needs to be some sort of control, but we also need to figure out what to do" about the undocumented immigrants, Ramirez said.
"We just want immigrants to get a chance to get the American dream, just like everyone else," she said.
Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO at 248-351-2998 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.