Burning Spear News
Long live Glen Ford, African intellectual warrior!
Glen Ford addresses the Black is Back Coalition 2017 Electoral Campaign School held in St. Petersburg, Florida
Ford, brilliant journalist, broadcaster, senior editor of the Black Agenda Report and co-founder of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Repartions, died in July 2021. The following is excerpted from Chairman Omali's presentation during an African People's Socialist Party event honoring Comrade Glen Ford.
I want to express my appreciation to all of you who were able to come and participate with us in remembering Glen Ford. The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) wanted to say something about how we knew Comrade Glen and the significance we feel he had in the struggle.
I say "struggle" because that’s how we met Glen Ford—through struggle. The APSP, which will be experiencing 50 years of existence next year, was founded to complete the Black Revolution of the ‘60s, and this is the context in which we met Glen Ford.
We are talking about a movement of black people who had fought for happiness and for the return of stolen resources. At the height of the resistance of the ‘60s—not only in the U.S., but throughout the world—people like Nkrumah and Lumumba were being murdered for the freedom struggle. In 1968 alone, more than 20 members of the Black Panther Party were killed by the U.S. government in one way or another. More than 300 had been thrown into jail.
We faced an onslaught of vicious attacks against our movement and our people. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Fred Hampton were all assassinated in the ‘60s. That was what defined much of what the period the Party was born into looked like.
COINTELPRO was unleashed against the Black Liberation Movement. These comrades died as a part of a counterinsurgent effort to crush our struggle. It was the basis for the introduction of crack-cocaine that entered the African communities and demoralized African people.
It was a war without terms that we were dealing with. There was no Geneva Convention, or anything like that, the U.S. government had to adhere to.
Part of the counterinsurgency that was unleashed against us was neocolonial forces, white power in black face, and this was usually something that happened through the electoral process. The U.S. government began to define black politicians that were against the Black Revolution as Black Power. They killed the real adherents of Black Power and pushed these forces forward.
The APSP’s objective was to complete the revolution of the ‘60s.
However, we had two problems. One of the problems we were confronted with was the fact that our engagement in the struggle for national liberation meant that we had to unite the most progressive sector of the African Nation in this common struggle for liberation. Another was that we had to struggle to reintroduce science into our movement because we had reached a point where a lot of those that were associated with the struggle for self-determination placed their articulations in superstition.
So, to build a movement and come to a revolutionary conclusion, we had to reintroduce scientific analysis. We met Glen Ford in the process of doing that.
We first met Glen Ford during the issue surrounding Obama's election. What we really appreciated about Glen Ford was that he had serious intellectual integrity. He was not one of those chameleons that we have known over a period of time who simply switch or muddle their positions so one is never clear. Glen was quite clear.
We met him in New York. There was a debate about Barack Obama. We saw a lot of people that we knew—some who called themselves communists and black nationalists—who jumped into bed with Obama.
We were impressed with the courage that we saw coming from Glen, Nellie Bailey and others who were able to criticize Obama—to actually come up with a concrete analysis of who he was, his history, as well as the fact that he had no program that spoke to the interests of African and other working poor people.
So, that was impressive for us. It helped us to identify him as one of those persons we might be able to work with in creating the coalition that we now call the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations.
Glen Ford believed in self-determination, and that was fundamental. Ford was intellectual. His brain was like a steel trap. He was able to put forth a position around self-determination. He could fight for it and defend it.
He believed in engaging in the war of ideas—not to simply allow wrong ideas to define our reality, but to do the research and come up with empirical data that would substantiate what kind of position he was going to put forward.
He created and participated in journalistic endeavors because that was a part of his task in engaging in the war of ideas, to actually arm and defend the African community. That was something he was extraordinarily good at.
We could tell what Glen thought about something because he would say it. He was not like others who would not say what it was they believed in or would say it behind the back of the movement.
Glen would struggle against what he saw as encroachments on the rights and dignity of African people and of oppressed people in general.
There were incidents in this coalition. On one occasion, this organization joined a march that we were doing, and when we got to the venue, they violated all the rules and principles that were established for the march. They had the most disgusting kind of presentation you could imagine. The kind of thing that the U.S. government has had informants come into organizations and do in order to disparage them.
Glen was quite frank and upfront. He said, “I will never get on the platform if these guys are on it again.” He was somebody who when he had a criticism, he made it. He was also willing to fight for his position.
Glen was not one of those that would only interpret the world. He engaged in struggles to change the world. It was a dynamic political relationship, and the unity we had, politically and on principle, allowed that relationship to also flower into a friendship.
We remember Glen Ford for his courage as well because he was able to take up this struggle and join the coalition. He was there on September 12, 2009 in Washington DC at the meeting where we founded the coalition.
In that September meeting, we said the first thing we were going to do was march on the white house occupied by Obama in November. All kinds of organizations that were repudiated to be bold and courageous backed out and couldn't join the coalition precisely because we were marching on Obama’s white house.
This took a lot of courage on the part of Glen Ford. I was part of a revolutionary organization that exists in various parts of the world. My being in the coalition was a trajectory I’ve been on for a long time. I can take the stance I believe in with some sense of security, but Glen was an individual.
Although potent in terms of his position with the Black Agenda Report, he was an individual who was willing to go against all of that. When he went against it, it also meant that any institution associated with Glen Ford would receive the wrath of our oppressors.
In fact, Black Agenda Report was identified as some kind of supposed “fake news” and somehow an entity that was against the interest of the U.S. government— which is probably true in that the U.S. government is working against the interest of the people on planet Earth and Glen never hesitated to get involved in the struggle to defend the people.
So we remember Glen, and we love Glen so much.
He was a man of integrity. He was somebody who really approached the world in a very scientific way. He wanted us to win and to be free.
Long live Glen Ford!