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Burning Spear News

A living history of The Burning Spear newspaper!

Dec 21, 2018
Omowale Kefing


October 1984 edition of The Burning Spear newspaper on the history of The Measure O campaign

 

The most accurate historical record of the international African Liberation Movement since 1968, without contradiction, can only be found in the pages of The Burning Spear newspaper.

The Spear has consistently told the story of the heroic fight-back and organizational efforts of the African working class to free itself from white power colonialism and neocolonialism throughout the world.

In 1968, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, known then as Joe Waller, founded the newspaper in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Burning Spear newspaper was founded as the official news organ of the Junta of Militant Organizations (JOMO), which developed as a revolutionary membership organization through the struggles of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Civil Rights Movements in the southern states of the U.S.

In 1972, The Burning Spear was adopted as the official news organ of the African People’s Socialist Party at its founding, as JOMO was one of three groups that merged to create the Party.

Why The Burning Spear newspaper?

The quest to create our own working class intellectual cadre—an intelligentsia that comes directly from the ranks of the African working class—has been a prime objective of the African People’s Socialist Party since its inception.

It was recognized early on that in order to compete with those opposed to African freedom that it was absolutely necessary to create our own media, thus the creation of The Burning Spear newspaper to contend in the arena of the war of ideas—the white bourgeoisie world view versus the world view of the African working class.

The mission of the newspaper was to explain the world in order to change the world. Throughout its 49-year history, The Burning Spear newspaper has carried out this mission in a myriad of ways.

The many workings of The Spear

One sure way to gauge or judge an organization’s commitment to the revolutionary project is its documentation of what it wants, what it believes, its political work and its position on major and minor political and military events in the world—in other words, its commitment to a political journal or newspaper.

The Burning Spear newspaper’s first edition was done on memo graphed letter sized paper, but nevertheless it was a newspaper and something to be proud of—the African working class had its own news organ, speaking to our people in our words.

Despite what the white newspapers said about JOMO and our work, we had a newspaper of our own to contest them in the struggle of ideas.

We had read and knew that Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association used the Negro World newspaper to organize some 12 million Africans from throughout the world.

We knew that Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam had built Muhammad Speaks and was distributing 500,000 newspapers per week.

We knew that the Black Panther Party and its newspaper The Black Panther were distributing some 100,000 newspapers per week among the oppressed and exploited African working class—that Africans the system had deemed incorrigible were reading The Black Panther and works by Chairman Mao and Frantz Fanon.

The absolute necessity for the African People’s Socialist Party having its own news organ has been a priority from the beginning.

The press must roll

We have printed this newspaper when there was no food on the table. We have printed this newspaper while ducking and dodging the landlord, the light, gas and water people, etc.

That was our commitment to ensure that the people would be served and that the revolutionary project would not be altogether silenced. We were and are intent on completing the Black Revolution of the sixties.

The records that are inside the pages of The Spear are stories, chronicles, analysis, opinions, photo journalism and just general documentation that enables us to more scientifically present to the African working class a world view that informs our aspirations for self-determination and socialist democracy.

The Burning Spear newspaper vs. Social Media

In the opinion of The Spear editorial board, which is the Central Committee of the African People’s Socialist Party, the question is not “The Spear vs Social Media.” We of The Burning Spear are African Internationalists, we subscribe to no aspects of American Exceptionalism.

So, when we hear the argument that nobody reads newspapers because everybody is on social media, we know that opinion is ill-informed.

As African Internationalists, we understand that most Africans in this world that constitute the African Nation do not have access to the internet.

We know that the millions locked down in U.S. prisons do not have access to the internet.

The whole African Nation, however, has access to The Burning Spear newspaper and that it can travel throughout our communities, including prisons until the ink fades away as it teaches valuable lessons and serves to keep the revolutionary trajectory of the worldwide Black Revolution on track.

We also recognize the significance of social media. In this regard, there is burningspear.com, the online version of The Burning Spear newspaper.

Every social media app or outlet that is available online it is being used by The Burning Spear Social Media Team. So, there really isn’t Social Media vs. The Spear.

The Spear as a stable, tactical entity or tool of the Party and Revolution

In the African People’s Socialist Party, there is no work that is more important than for cadre to sell The Spear on the streets.

Selling The Spear should be scheduled into every Party member’s “Things to do today” list. It is the primary organizing tool of the African People’s Socialist Party and has been since its inception.

It is the thing that keeps us before and in touch with the African working class masses. On the job, in the housing projects, on the street corner and everywhere else the class might be.

It holds us accountable to the people. In every issue we print the Party Rules of Discipline and our 14 Point Platform, What we Want—What we Believe.

The Spear introduces the masses to revolutionary thought and action.

The Burning Spear newspaper is what keeps the entire Uhuru Movement cohesive, glued together on the same trajectory.

The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP), the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO), the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF), the African People’s Solidarity Movement and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement are all informed of each other through the pages of The Burning Spear newspaper.

The work of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations and other movement activities can also be found in the pages of The Spear.

A long and glorious history

Although not easy and not without state interventions, we have nevertheless forwarded the aims and goals of The Spear.

On one occasion in 1976, the paper was sabotaged at the printer because a page consisted of an African man bent over using the U.S. flag as toilet paper with the caption, “A bicentennial salute.” The paper came back with the page black and the printer refusing to print the paper.

On another occasion immediately following the more than 900 Africans murdered in Jonestown, Guyana, the initial story in The Spear came back so jumbled up from paragraph to paragraph that it was incoherent.

The Party had made the only correct analysis of the Jonestown murders that I have seen up to date, but we persevered.

In the early Spear, you can find the Party fight off the death penalty in Florida by waging a successful campaign to “Free Pitts and Lee,” two Africans railroaded to death row in the late sixties.

In the pages of The Spear, the international struggle, led by the Party to “Free Dessie Woods” and “Smash Colonial Violence” brought the Black Liberation Movement back to life from the crushing military defeat through COINTELPRO.

The exposure of the massive prison system and the captured political prisoners and prisoners of war through the concentrated years of struggle to build the African National Prison Organization happened from the mid-‘70s through 1980.

Sundiata Acoli, Assata Shakur, Herman Bell, Anthony Bottom and other captured African patriots were kept before the public through the pages of The Spear.

The slaughter of seven members of Nelson Johnson’s Communist Workers Party, including Sandi Smith, Johnson’s wife at a “Dare the Klan” rally in Greensboro, North Carolina in November of 1979; this story is told and put into perspective in the pages of The Burning Spear newspaper.

The MOVE bombing in Philadelphia on May 13, 1985 is chronicled in the pages of The Spear. This and testimony at the World Tribunal can be found inside The Spear.

The electoral campaign to run Alvelita Donaldson for city council in the early eighties; the struggle of the Tampa Bay Four; the mobilizations against the police murder of Willie “Big Man” Daniels by St. Pete cop Leonard Leedy; and taking up the struggles of the nurses in the nursing homes of St. Petersburg are all in the pages of The Spear.

Recent struggles for “Justice for Tyrone Lewis” and the “Three drowned black girls” can be found in our newspaper.

The big time land reform struggle in Oakland, California known as Measure O on the ballot, which reached a revolutionary pitch and the struggle against the death penalty and to “Free Freddie Roberts” brought the entire city of Oakland back to political life that had not been seen since the Panther days. It’s in The Spear.

The exposure of Jesse Jackson and a host of others as bootlicking sell-outs during Jackon’s run for the Democratic party nomination in 1984 is chronicled inside The Spear.

We said in 1984: “No Confidence in the U.S. Government, male or female, black or white, Republican or Democratic.”

We said it with Barack Obama and we say that now.

The FBI fiery mass murders at the Davidian compound in Waco, Texas under Bill Clinton’s leadership is explained in The Spear.

The invasion and toppling the New Jewel Movement government and murder of Maurice Bishop and the invasion of Lebanon by U.S. president Ronald Wilson Reagan; the heroic struggles of the Vietnamese, the Chinese Revolution and the fight for communist integrity in China can all be found in the pages of The Spear.

The struggles of Africans in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau against Portuguese colonialism can all be found with analysis in the pages of The Spear.

In addition, the assassination Thomas Sankara in Bikini Faso and the anti-settler colonial struggle against the murderous Rhodesian regime by ZANU in then Occupied Zimbabwe is here as well.

The struggle in Occupied Azania (South Africa)

Perhaps more pages of The Spear have been devoted to the Azanian Front of the African Revolution than any other Front outside the U.S.

Since the 1976, Soweto Uprisings and the mass murder of our children and young people there, the struggle inside Occupied Azania has been a mainstay in the pages of The Spear.

From our ideological and material support of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania to our consistent exposing of Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu and the African National Congress and neocolonialist sell-outs, if one wants to know why the situation as it is today in Occupied Azania, look to The Burning Spear newspaper.

On one occasion during the height of the Free Mandela Movement, Bishop Tutu thought he could come into Oakland, California where the Party was based and drink wine and dine with the white corporate executives of the Kaiser and Clorox corporations who were stealing from Africans right there in Oakland.

Tutu was met with the militancy of the African working class who had come out in force to block any collusion between the neocolonialists and the white ruling class.

Tutu was in town to assure the corporations that Mandela and the ANC just wanted a piece of the African bounty. That dinner party was blocked. You can read about it in The Spear.

The ongoing development of African Internationalism

Perhaps, The Spear’s greatest contribution to the Party and the African Revolution is the role it played and is playing in giving Chairman Omali Yeshitela a forum in every issue to develop the liberating world view of revolutionary African Internationalism, the theory of the African working class.

Through the Point of the Spear, a permanent column in every issue of The Spear, Chairman Omali has consistently answered the lingering theoretical questions confronting the movement through actual on-the-streets-with-the-people practice of the African Revolution.

Chairman Omali brought the science that defined “colonialism” and taught the masses and movement that the struggle is for power and not a struggle against the elusive “racism.”

Above all, Chairman Omali, through the Point of The Spear, has defined the African Nation and exposed the treacherous African petty bourgeoisie and neocolonialism.

We’ll give the last word on this Spear Anniversary statement to a Comrade who knew the importance of the Party and its newspaper, Comrade Huey P. Newton had this to say at a 1986 rally to Free Freddie Lee Roberts at the Uhuru House in Oakland, California. Huey said, “You might not have The Black Panther newspaper, but you have The Burning Spear. So they haven’t done anything by crushing one organization.”

Long Live The Burning Spear!

Independence In Our Lifetime!

 

 

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