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From Jena to Huntsville, We Ain't Through! 

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Our mobilization to Jena, Louisiana was a brilliant display of Black Power in motion. But it's not enough. There are Jena's throughout the U.S. that are crushing our people with the U.S. brand of justice every day. We have to go beyond Jena and develop the capacity to not only respond to every such case in the U.S., but we must also move beyond responding to the acts against us by white power and come up with the organization and strategy that can advance our interests every day.

This is why we say, "Come to Huntsville and build beyond Jena."

This coming weekend, on September 29 and 30 the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), is holding its annual convention in Huntsville, Alabama under the slogan: "Organization is the key; self-determination is the solution!"
Click here to visit the InPDUM Convention website.

Free the Jena Six! 

Six African students locked up for standing up to lynching threats in Louisiana!

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JENA, Louisiana — “Blacks do not stand a chance here. I want to see justice. This wasn’t it.” “They’re going to hang all them boys.” These are the observations of two African women, commenting on the case of the Jena Six. The case, which has garnered international media attention, is centered around six black teens, one white teen and an all white jury.

Welcome to Jena, Louisiana, a small town with no more than a few thousand people. The faint but distinctive smell of burning flesh from lynchings gone by is permanently integrated into the stale summer breeze. The local barbershop still refuses to serve or permit the entry of black customers. There is an unwritten rule that African students are not supposed to stand under certain “whites only” trees on school property. This is where the case of the Jena 6 begins.

Resistance to colonial policy

In September of 2006, an African student at Jena High School, sought permission from the principal to sit beneath the whites only tree. The principal did not articulate any objections, and the student went forth with the plan.

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The following day, nooses were hanging from the tree. The noose is a symbol of the violent lynchings of Africans carried out throughout the U.S. mobs of ordinary white people, and it was an obvious statement and threat to the African community. The nooses had even been painted to reflect Jena High’s school colors. Most of the North American or white people in Jena saw the gesture as a harmless prank. The African community, who have historically been the victim of brutal lynchings, did not see it the same way — especially the students who the statement was directed at.

The day after the noose hangings, a group of African students including local Jena High football player Mychal Bell who was 16 at the time, decided that they were going to stand where they pleased. Mychal was joined by his other football teammates Theo Shaw, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis and Jesse Beard. Out of this stand for justice these young Africans would eventually become “the Jena Six.”

One by one, more and more African students followed the football players’ lead and gathered underneath the tree in bold and courageous defiance of Jena’s colonial rules and regulations. Infuriated by the political statement, the principal called the police and the district attorney to handle the students who had determined that enough was enough. District attorney Reed Walters would later call an assembly to address the protest where he declared to the African students that he would and “could end [their] lives with the stroke of a pen.”

/old_site_images/2007-09/jena-6/mychalbell.jpg alt=""/> Mychal Bell of the Jena Six

Not long after that, in further defiance of Jena’s racist and colonial regulations, Robert Bailey Jr. showed up at an all-white party. His head would be cracked open with a bottle. Weeks of unrest ensued in Jena. At the local Gotta Go convenience store, a white man pulled out a loaded shotgun on three black teenagers — one of whom was Robert Bailey Jr. The teens desperately wrestled the shotgun away from the man and ran away. They reported the incident to the police, who promptly charged them with assault and theft and returned the shotgun to its owner.

District attorney delivers on threat against African students

Soon after that, on December 4, 2006 Mychal Bell and Justin Barker, one of the white Jena High students associated with the noose hanging incident, allegedly got into a fight in the lunchroom. Justin lost the fight and emerged with a black eye and bruises.

/old_site_images/2007-09/jena-6/JesseBeard-Jena6.jpg alt=""/> Jesse Beard of the Jena Six

This is where district attorney Reed Walters attempted to deliver on his promise. For the simple school fight, Walters charged Bell and the other five students with 2nd degree attempted murder and conspiracy and face anywhere from 20 to 100 years in prison.

By comparison, the student that cracked Robery Bailey Jr.’s head open with a bottle only received a simple assault charge. Caseptla Bailey, Robert’s mother stated that “they want to take these kids — my son as well as these other children — lock them up and throw away the key… that’s the tradition for black males…because they want to keep institutionalized slavery alive and well.”

At press time, Mychal Bell, whose trial was first among the Jena Six, has been convicted of a lesser charge of second degree battery, and faces up to 20 years in prison. During the trial, Mychal’s attorney Blane Williams, who is an African, refused to request a change of venue, call any witnesses or present any evidence in Mychal’s defense. By all accounts, he failed to even execute basic cross-examination methods.

All the witnesses that testified in the trial were white. The entire jury was white, including one juror who was a fellow alumni with Justin Barker’s father. The other young Africans still face attempted murder cases and if Mychal Bell’s case is any indication, his aunt was correct when she said that the State would try to “hang them boys.”

The Uhuru Movement is calling on all freedom-loving people to defend the Jena Six and the right to resist. It is vital that we support this struggle. What these young Africans have done, should be upheld as an example of courage and fearlessness in the face of obvious oppression. Read next month’s Spear for ongoing coverage and updates.

What you can do

Write, join and or donate to:
The Jena 6 Defense Committee,
PO Box 2798,
Jena, LA 71342

Congress sets PAYCO's priority to unite African youth movement in Southern Africa 

/old_site_images/2007-08/payco-congress/OutsidePAYCOCongress.jpeg alt=""/> PAYCO members outside the Congress

DURBAN, Azania — The City of Ethekwini, also known as Durban, was graced by the presence of young people from across Azania. They came to the tourist hub of Azania in trains, buses and planes to review and evaluate progress in the struggle of the African working class. These 150 delegates represented branches with more that 5,000 members of the Pan Africanist Youth Congress (PAYCO). There were 100 members and leaders of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania who came on observer status as they could not wait for province and branch delegates to return with reports. The Congress that takes place every two years has greater responsibility than the Annual Conference that focuses on administrative and policy matters. The Congress has the responsibility of also reviewing the constitution and electing 15 of 25 leaders serving in the National Executive Committee.

Opening session

Under theme "Mobilizing Youth Power to Build Socialism and African Unity," the Congress was opened by outgoing President Sbusiso Xaba who emphasised the need to strengthen our African working class movement to wrestle power from imperialist forces by being involved in all matters affecting Africa and Africans everywhere. He launched a carving attack on the role of the World Trade Organization that perpetuates European dominance of international trade. He called for the rejection of all institutions that camouflage the colonization of Africa.

The Secretary General of Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) Youth League, Elliot Nyawo on the Swaziland front of the African revolution was present to ensure that the Congress was not absorbed into just Azanian issues, but that it looked at challenges of Africa and her children holistically. It is in his solidarity message that he gave a picture of practical work that is being undertaken by structured young soldiers in Southern Africa to advance revolution in areas of pooling human resources in electioneering, developing a reparations movement on this part of the world as part of an international movement, political education and liberating the minds of our people through agitation and propagation. He praised the roles of PAYCO and Uhuru News.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Sombu Majola-Tshabalala, Secretary for Social Development. She highlighted the need to ensure that youth continue to be a vanguard of African people’s struggles. She pressed on the youth the need to arm themselves with revolutionary theory, take responsibility for leadership in all institutions and protect African people’s gains using whatever means necessary.

Deliberations

/old_site_images/2007-08/payco-congress/PAYCOCapeTownBranch.jpg alt=""/> The Cape Town Branch displays its banner.

It was in closed session where organizational reports were scrutinized with delegates reviewing the development of the organization in terms of administrative machinery, organizational footprint, financial performance and political work. The Congress noted the extreme conditions under which its leadership is expected to execute revolutionary work with limited resources. The Congress was pleased with the political work accomplished beyond the artificial borders, particularly the strengthened relationships with the African People Socialist Party (APSP), the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), the Zimbabwe Pan African Youth Agenda (ZIPAYA) and the African Socialist International (ASI).

The Congress was as abrasive on poor performance as it was appreciative of major successes in the period under review. The Congress resolved to modify the constitution to improve program execution and ensure proper political oversight in all its structure. The position was taken to increase advocacy work on the Youth Ministry in Azania to coordinate youth development.

The Congress resolved to increase the profile of the heroes of the African struggle in Azania, particularly the founding members of PAC. It is in spirit of One African Nation that a commitment was made to participate in the international movement struggle for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African political prisoner who has been held on death row in the United States for decades.

It was the work to build the African Socialist International that was made the top priority for the new leadership. The Congress mandates the new leadership work tirelessly to ensure unity among African working class organizations in Azania, Southern Africa and throughout the African world.

New leadership

The congress made it clear that new leadership will be measured by the extent of practical working relationships developed with organized labour in advancing African working class revolutionary interest. The newly elected president, Hulisani Mmbara, rounded up the mandate by telling members of PAYCO to take the struggle out of the boardroom to the street, and he committed not to tolerate poor performance on his team.

A senior member of PAC, Richard Maoka praised the political maturity of delegates and the robustness of deliberations. He called on the youth to continue to protect the revolution from infiltration and betrayal by those who become weak and chose to sacrifice the revolutionary cause for short-term personal gain.

Shell Seeks to Exploit More African Oil 

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NIGER DELTA, Nigeria — On July 26, imperialist oil company Royal Dutch Shell announced that it found more oil reserves in Nigeria. Shell expects this discovery to allow for the extraction of 5,000 more barrels per day from Nigeria’s oil reserves. The reality of course is that this will not translate to a better situation for African people in Nigeria. Nigeria is the eighth largest oil exporter in the world yet the African masses there remain poor. Some communities like Utorogu, don’t have access to electricity or clean water while right in their midst a Shell facility extracts thousands of barrels of oil each day.

The oil resources exported from Nigeria do not serve the masses of African people. Instead, they serve U.S. and European imperialism and fortify oil companies like Shell and Chevron. This exploitation is so severe that Nigeria – one of the world’s leading oil producing nations – is unable to meet the needs of its own population, and is forced to purchase oil from other countries. According to the Nigerian Labor Congress, oil-rich Nigeria spent $18.6 billion to import refined oil between 2000 and 2006.

/old_site_images/2007-08/shell-more-oil-nigeria/UmaruYarAdua.jpg alt=""/> Umaru Yar'Adua, Nigeria's new neocolonial president

The oil refineries in Nigeria, which are the birthright of African people, have been sold to imperialist formations by a self-serving petite bourgeois government that has made Nigeria wholly dependent on imports. Resistance in the Niger Delta has been constant however, as Africans – some of whom have taken up arms – demand that the oil wealth benefit the masses to whom the resources belong. Resistance forces have also articulated opposition to the dangerous environmental damage caused by oil company policies.

New neocolonial president not changing colonial conditions

Recently elected Nigerian president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has stated that his regime’s priority is the Niger Delta region. The relative change in political climate has led the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) – one of the primary resistance movements in the region – to suspend its attacks on foreign oil facilities for one month in order to enable talks with Yar’Adua’s government.

/old_site_images/2007-08/shell-more-oil-nigeria/mend_militants_nr_1.jpg alt=""/> Militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and other groups have been demanding that Africa's oil benefit her people.

If history is any indication however, this will be a short lived break as the imperialist corporations will do nothing but attempt to deepen their grasp on African resources. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the newest neocolonial leadership will do anything more than continue to hand access to African people’s resources over to their imperialist masters. Yar’Adua himself became president through a questionable and contested electoral process. His increase of the price of oil has already deepened the misery of Africans in Nigeria.

In response, labor unions began a two week strike in protest of oil and tax increases, as well as the non-implementation of salary increases. Only when the oil resources are controlled by the African working class — who create wealth by working to extract oil and other resources — can there be a different reality for African people. Until then, resistance can and should be expected.