Dhoruba Bin Wahad takes the CBC to School

Dhoruba Bin Wahad, 1971

The following is a snippet of a conversation from February 2010. Former Black Panther and political prisoner of 17 years, Dhoruba Bin Wahad, was at Walker Church in South Minneapolis giving a speech titled, “Political repression and state violence from Minneapolis to Palestine.” Where the audio begins, Dhoruba has just criticized the Congressional Black Caucus, and CBC member Keith Ellison is in the audience to hear it. He jumps in, and Dhoruba takes him to school. It’s a heated conversation that covers Palestine, neo-colonialism, and Power. Enjoy!


Dhoruba: …more secular ideology had opened through a modern state and the CIA, MI5 all of them slipped, and they’ve been playing catch up ever since. US policy towards Iran, U.S. policy towards Iraq is catch up, based on that misunderstanding or failure to perceive what was happening in that region, changed the whole political fabric of it, changed the whole geopolitical paradigm, so it becomes necessary therefore, for every black politician to get on a plane and fly to Tel Aviv.

Have you ever noticed that? Every black congressional— I don’t know if my brother over here, made his trip yet. (Laughs) Oh he made his trip, 

Keith: Wait a minute, since you called on my brother. You called on me, I’ve also been to Gaza

Dhoruba: But you didn’t know did you?

Keith: Would be better if I didn’t go then?

Dhoruba: Yeah.

Keith: Okay, so you don’t want me to go to Gaza.

Dhoruba: No, I’m telling you, you know why I tell you it would’ve been better if you didn’t go?

Keith: The people I talked to wanted me there.

Dhoruba: The people in Gaza wanted everybody there.

Keith: So why shouldn’t I go to try and—

Dhoruba: Nobody saying that you shouldn’t go, You saying it would’ve been better if I didn’t get in. That’s what you saying.

Keith: No, I’m saying if I didn’t go.

Dhoruba: No you saying if it would’ve been better if I didn’t get in.

Keith: Oh do you want a semantic thing?

Dhoruba: Okay fine, it would’ve been better if you didn’t get in. Now, it would’ve been good if you went and you didn’t get in.

Keith: Well, I’m glad I did go, and I’m going back.

Dhoruba: Well I know you going back. And I know you’ll get in.

Keith: Well, you know I mean, the thing is man, you’ve been — I remember sitting down with you when I was a law student about 20 years ago.

Dhoruba: And this is what happened? (Laughs)

Keith: You know what, I’m not taking it personally, I’m taking this seriously.

Dhoruba: I’m only joking. I’m only joking. I’m only adding some humor.

Keith: So, I’m taking this seriously not personally.  And so I’ll tell you, this is not personal. And so, you know you know, there’s a lot of things I would like to say, you know, to I think, bring another perspective to the one you’ve just given. But tonight’s your night. So I’m just not going to do that.

Dhoruba: Every night’s, my night.

Keith: Well. (Laughs) And so—

Dhoruba: I mean, you can feel free. It doesn’t mean—

Keith: Well no, no, no.

Dhoruba: I think I think folks will be interested in hearing that they self. Because the problem is this situation is the reason why I mentioned the reason why I mention, you know it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t personal at all. The reason why I mention is because when we when we understand how the opposition works, you know, a lot of times the opposition works by preparing the way with people who have good intentions and that they know have no power. Now, now now that you may have had the best of intentions, so—

Keith: Think it through, brother. What you’re saying is working to change the system with good intentions is ultimately a futile thing to do? I mean, you know, you’ve made a lot of good critiques.

Dhoruba: Is that a question? That you’re asking me? That statement right there? Is working to change the system with good intentions, what was the final part?

Keith: You’re saying that’s futile? You’re saying that we should just not engage? 

Dhoruba: No, no, that’s not the alternative to that. You made a statement, you asked me was working to change the system with good intentions futile? Yes. 

Keith: Well, I don’t agree with that. And so, you know, I think that you lead people down a path where they feel that nothing’s going to. You said once, you know something, you have to do something about it or you have to admit you don’t care. That’s wrong. People know that there’s something going on, but they don’t feel they have the power to do anything about it. It’s not a matter of not caring. It’s a matter of getting the power to do it.

Dhoruba: So, you feel that you empowering people?

Keith: I feel that I’m and I’m trying to do the best I can with what I have. And so, look, I mean, I— think about you man, you haven’t brought about a socialist nirvana in America either.

Dhoruba: I’m not a socialist.

Keith: Well well, whatever kind of world you try to bring about.

Dhoruba: I’m not trying to bring about socialism. Let me be clear about my motives here.

Keith: Right.

Dhoruba: My motives are very simple. I mean, there ain’t a thing that’s complicated about me. You know, I don’t like progressives. I don’t like exploiters. Wait a minute. Let me finish my point.

Keith: And it’s easier not to do something than to do something.

Dhoruba: I’m coming. I’m coming. I don’t like tyrants, I don’t like oppressors. Huh. That’s why I spent 19 years in prison. I ain’t spent 19 years in prison because I felt that I had good intentions. And I was gonna try to change the system. I know the nature of tyrants. I know the nature of oppressors, it’s right there in history. I know they nature. You will not change that with good intentions.

Keith: I’m not trying to change them.

Dhoruba: No you have to get RID of them. And the only way you going to get rid of them is really pure and simple.  You’ve got to knock them out the box, you ain’t gon’ get them out the box by voting. You gonna get another Obama.. 

Don’t tell me that this Negro became president to promise these people all of this bullshit had good intentions. (Clapping) Don’t tell me that. Because that would be a lie. So what I’m trying to say to you, what I’m trying to say to you, my opposition, the way I deal with this, the way I deal with terrorism, and oppressors, I speak out directly to them. I challenge them directly. And if they want to get physical, I can get with that, too. OK, so so all that’s what it’s all about. Don’t think of those 19 years that I had in prison that them crackers couldn’t have murdered me anytime they felt like it. They could’ve did that. They could’ve bumped me right off, but they didn’t. I’m here talking to you. And why do you think that is? 

Keith: Is that a question for me?

Dhoruba: Yeah. How do you think I wound up in this place talking to you at this moment in time?

Keith: Is that a cosmic question? 

Dhoruba: You could take it as cosmically, as subjective as the logical question? 

Keith: I mean, here’s how here’s how I answer your question. First of all, you know, much of the critique that you have, I’m not here to dispute, you know, but I think that at the end of the day, if all you have is a complaint, then it doesn’t lead anywhere.

Dhoruba: That’s not all I got. The only way that we can begin to—

Keith: Well, no, no, no. I was sitting here listening to you. You kept on with your—you know what? I’m not about to hear it. I’m out. (Protesting)

Dhoruba: Let me hear your point. I know what people are thinking, but it’s not it’s not it’s not that. Just finish what you were saying.  

Keith: OK, well, OK, so so how do I get a moment to talk, or you—

Dhoruba: Go ahead, finish what you were saying.

Keith: Well, first of all, let me just start off with the first one of the first things you said, which is that the reason that the Obama is in there is because he’s more more white than black.

Dhoruba: No. That’s not what I said.

Keith: Well, he was more he had more he had more in common with whites than blacks. What about this, what about this reason. What about maybe given 30, 40 years of flat wages, given the social decline of the meaning of whiteness, that now, whites have enough opportunity to have more in common with people of color, which allows them to —

Dhoruba: You don’t believe that.

Keith: Well, I do believe that.

Dhoruba: You do?!

Keith: Well see, that’s the game though man.

Dhoruba: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Keith: I mean you say a bunch of things, provocative things and anybody says something back, you attack them.

Dhoruba: Go ahead, go ahead, go ahead.

Keith: No because you went on for about two hours.

Dhoruba: I’m supposed to.

Keith: And then you not going to let me say nothing.

Dhoruba: No, go ahead.

Ketih: And I’ma tell you this. You going to let me say something or not. But I’m not going to let you just stand here and just.

Dhoruba: No go ahead.

Keith: Well, look, the fact is, is that is that is that there’s always been, I think you would agree, a number of inter racial collections of people fighting to change oppression. This was going on in the 20s. It was going on in the 30s, it was going on in the 1860s. So you can’t say, I mean, you said you say you made the point. Hey, look, you people, you want to you people come in. And you said that this person who said this to you felt that there was some impenetrable barrier between you and them you seem to be saying the same thing. The fact is, you know, people have a lot more in common than they ever had before. Well, the fact is that we don’t have we don’t have Jim Crow segregation anymore. We have had a flattening of wages of everybody. We have seen industrialization and everybody is concerned about it and people want to do something about it. 

It’s true. Black unemployment has a lot of employment. White unemployment officially is nine point seven percent, which is depression era unemployment, which means that there’s a lot of there’s a broad dissatisfaction and therefore basis for people coming together and it’s happening all over the place. I mean, the fact is, I know how you feel about elections, but if there are any measure of what people want and people doing what they think is right, you’re seeing black politicians being elected by majority white districts all the time and you’re seeing something else too. You’re seeing an even white politicians being elected, electing white politicians that speak to their issues. Take, for example, a guy named Steve Cohen in Memphis. I mean, he has his voting record is way more progressive than Ford’s is. And he actually introduced a resolution with the Chief office to apologize for slavery. Now, I’m not trying to tell you everything he ever did. Everything he ever said is great. I’m simply saying that to argue that there is some impenetrable barrier between people from different racial groups and that the only reason that Obama was elected is because he has more in common with whites is a mistaken idea. And it’s not true. The reason people voted for Obama is because he offered them an opportunity and a stark departure from Bush era politics and that people felt in Iowa and a lot of other places that, you know what, I’m really ready for something new. And I’m not focused on this man’s melanin. I’m focused on what I believe might happen if I make a different choice. So that’s one thing, to just start out talking about one basic flaw in your whole presentation. The other thing is you’ve got a lot of negative things to say about the Black Caucus. But who was the first person who was the person who voted against Bush’s authorization for war right after 9/11? Well, that was Barbara Lee, who’s the Chairman of the Black Caucus. I wasn’t there yet. OK, well, I know what I’m talking about. but like, OK, whatever. 

And so and so. So let me just also say that when you talk about when you talk about people standing up for Palestine, you know, most of the people who stood up to fight against the condemnation of Goldstone Report, the Black Caucus highly overrepresented. Myself, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters of many, many others, look at the numbers. We got 58 people who said we are not going to denounce this report. 

Dhoruba: But you know—

Keith: You said I could talk.

Dhoruba: I know but.

Keith: You said I could talk.

Dhoruba: Alright, finish. Finish.  

Keith: The other thing is we got about 54 members to stand to write a letter to the president saying you must open Gaza, you have to open it up now.

Dhoruba: Where’s your letter.

Keith: Well, what do you mean? Where is it? Do I have it on me?

Dhoruba: What happened to it?

Keith: Well, we’re pushing it. We need help.

Dhoruba: I ain’t helping y’all for nothing.

Keith Well, that’s exactly, you see Exactly you ain’t helping.

Dhoruba: And I’ll tell you why.

Keith: No exactly, you ain’t helping because, you want to promote cynicism.

Dhoruba: No, I’m trying to promote positiveness.

Keith: And I’m trying to promote positive people. OK, and so and so you want to make people feel nothing can go well. And I feel that it can go well if we come together and are consistent and persistent, because that’s because, you know, it’s not true that it’s not true that when Americans have come together in the past, we have not been able to to to change this country in a better direction. 

Dhoruba: What has that been though? Give me an example of what that’s been people come together in the past and they changed the—

Keith: Jim Crow, not Jim Crow.

Dhoruba: Tell me when the country came together and change.

Keith: I never said that the country came together. I said the people came together.

Dhoruba: Okay, tell me when the people in America came together to change something.

Keith: Not all of them did.

Dhoruba: I didn’t ask you that. You made a statement, but I try and give you this moment, of when they did that.

Keith: Well, it was over a range of years. It wasn’t all at one time.

Dhoruba: Okay, just give me one of them. 

Keith: Well, let’s start from 1954 until 1965. 

Dhoruba: That’s supposed to be a period of when people in America came together to change something?

Keith: When some people in America came together.

Dhoruba: Oh some people.

Keith: Now, I don’t even think you can deny that we’re better off without Jim Crow. Right. I don’t think you would say that. Would you. Are you going to say that Jim Crow would be better if we still had it? Or what would you say? 

Dhoruba: That’s not the issue.

Keith: Well, it is in part the issue. Here’s why it is. 

Dhoruba: Well, first of all, let me just tell me—

Keith: Brother, let me tell you why I think this is in part the issue that requires you to finish your comment because you correctly identify American foreign policy as a very dangerous thing for the people in the world. I think you’re right about that. In fact, I think if we come together and we put up a strong opposition to this imperialist—

Dhoruba: Who is we?

Keith: Well the people in this room for example. Right? And more than just this room, way more than just this room.

Dhoruba: Gotta have more than this room.

Keith: But the people who would rather be a part of humanity, than above it.

You know it. I think a lot of Americans who want to see change that way, who want to reach out across the water. Who want to reach out internationally. But if you just say that everything sucks and everything’s bad and that nothing’s ever going to happen, then, you know what we will, we will perpetuate the system. And the worst elements of it, but if we believe and the people like you, use your voice and say you know what we need to do, is not just buy canned goods for the next storm, but actually organize to willing to oppose. Let’s start with Gaza. But then the whole the whole policy over there, maybe we could get ourselves together. But the movement, in my opinion, is based on the margin because it stays on the margin and we don’t ever we don’t ever reach into issues of power to really make the change that I think we can make. So, you know, I would say honestly, I just came to listen tonight and I and if you didn’t set your eye on me I wouldn’t have said a word.

Dhoruba: I set on you so you would say a word. (Laughs)

Keith: Now I got one more thing to say.

Dhoruba: Now he’s ministering.

Keith: I got one more thing to say. (Protesting)


Dhoruba: Just let him finish.

Keith: No, you and I’m gonna tell you, you know we’ve got to get comfortable with trying to acquire some power because we been dogged by power so distrustful of it, we act like we don’t even want it. And it always seems to us. And so what I’m saying is right now, you ask me about me, Abu Jamal, you know, you put something on my mind tonight. You really did. Oh, and we’ll see what happens. Well, let me tell you how all these people in this room have to admit I have always consistently opposed the death penalty. without exception. Right. Without ever. Now I’m telling you you want something done with Abu Jamal. 

Let’s begin that conversation. Frankly, I hadn’t really even thought about it. OK, about a resolution in Congress raising questions about Amir Abu-Jamal? It said there must be an investigation in this case. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I’m going to walk out of this room thinking about it in the same way that I’ve watched all the resolutions for other things, including impeachment, including stuff on detention I’ve been donw to Guantanamo to address these issues And I’m not going to stop. it’s not going to be an overnight thing. But what I’m not going to do, is stand on the sideline and talk about everything sucks and everything is bad. And how nothing ever works, because that doesn’t lead nowhere. And I’m telling you man that I love your critique and I took notes on what you were saying.

Dhoruba: See I ain’t take notes on what you just said.

Keith: And that’s OK I’m not going to going to let you expel me.

Dhoruba: I’m not expelling you.

Keith: But the point is to say, you know, at the end of  the day, you know, this is your crowd, you say what you want to say.

Dhoruba: I would say what I want to say if this wasn’t my crowd. Don’t get this twisted.

Keith: But I’m not getting it twisted.

Dhoruba: You are getting it twisted. You think I’m only sticking to the choirs. I don’t just stick to the choirs.

Keith: Yes you do.

Dhoruba: No I don’t. Go back to your Black Caucus and ask how many negroes I done sang to.

Keith: Well this is—

Dhoruba: Go back and ask them.

Keith: Well, I’ve been there three years and I haven’t heard from you there yet.

Dhoruba:  You know why, because before you got there, I stopped singing to them Negroes.

Keith: Well, there’s new Negroes okay?

Dhoruba: I don’t know them, I only know the old negroes.

Keith: Well—

Dhoruba: That’s just like Puff Daddy.

Keith: I’m using your word. You said Negroes. I don’t like the term, but that’s what you said. My point is that, you know, there are people there are new people every day who are looking for constructive ways to move forward with some action.

Dhoruba: That’s not what I said, that’s a mischaracterization. I didn’t say that there’s this impenetrable divide between people in this country. What I said is that this nation is an empire in denial. And a major contradiction in this country, a contradiction between people in this country is their inability to face history and face up to the realities of their historical being. OK, that’s the contradiction. White folks in America don’t want to admit to their history. They clean it up they modify it, they don’t want to deal with it, and as long as they don’t want to deal with the issues never get dealt with, not dealt with there’s nothing about being impenetrable It has to deal with people being ignorant. And why being ignorant because they prefer, and because that’s part of the national characteristic to be an ignorant ass. That’s what Americans are. Ignorant. If you go to Cuba or anyplace else and you compare junior high school students with their knowledge of the world and American high school students, you’d be shocked. It’s ignorance. It’s studied ignorance. And what I want to say is that no one said that, that the divide between black and white is impenetrable. But you got to remember, there’s not one historical moment in this country where white folks in mass came on board for a just cause that had to deal with black people. Not one historical moment.  

Dhoruba: That’s why you can’t name one. That’s why you use the word some. That’s why you used the word some. Some people you said some people are some of the the same people that are in jail right now, in prison. Those are the some people, OK. There was my comrades. Those were the some people. They came together to change this. And the fact of the matter is, when you go when a black person is murdered in Chicago, when a black kid was shot down by cops in New York City, you don’t see white folks coming out demonstrating horrified over what happened. They don’t come out. And the reason why they don’t come out—

Keith: Do we organize them to come out?

Dhoruba: Yes! Yes, yes, yes, they don’t come out. The reason why they don’t come out is because they don’t identify with what’s happening. It’s something that you really got to deal with, and the black politicians don’t want to deal with it OK. 

Dhoruba: The fact of the matter is, the United States is a nation state. It’s a national security state that evolved from the proposition and the premise of white supremacy. And they have never confronted that historical contradiction. And what I’m saying is.

Keith: Now when…

Dhoruba: Wait a minute. Now I let you time to talk. I’m coming. I’m coming to that point. You said you said you said that the reason why Obama, you said that the reason why people voted for Obama, I’m just capsulizing this, because you made a number of points. You mentioned a number of points I’m capsulizing this. I’m saying that because you mentioned a number of points that I would like to address individually, but, you know it was a little bit much. But you said, in capsulation, But there was a level of discontent and disconcertedness in the country as a whole amongst white folks, who felt that they were ready for change that this man represented. OK, this is basically what you said.

Keith: I’ll go with that.

Dhoruba:  And I’m saying to you that if you go back and you read the book, if you go back and you read Mao, if you go back, you see all of the historical analysis of American society, OK, you find and this is a major contradiction of the  Communist Party of the USA. Why they failed.  do you think? Because you got to remember. One of the foremost advocates against racism and discrimination in early America were the communists. In this country. OK. So for you to tell me that I think that there is some impenetrable barrier between white folks and black folks. But you said that’s not what I said about people that I talked about the dichotomy of the dialectics of the situation. Nobody said it was impenetrable. Anything man-made we can uncreate.

OK, but what you were trying to point out that there were a whole bunch of demographic factors and a whole bunch of sociological political factors, urbanization. We’ve inherited we’ve inherited obsolete urban infrastructure through migration, how did migration proceed to the U.S. from the south to the north. When did it proceed? At what point capitalist production did it succeed. All this you were talking about at the top was a symptom of what happened at the bottom. And the bottom line is that African American workers and white workers in this country have a different historical destiny. They have different historical formulas for their resolution of their contradiction. This not the same. The black experience in America is not the same as the whites in America. And that’s dichotomy in that dichotomy. That dichotomy is not impenetrable. That dichotomy relies on sincerity and truth. That only when you have a truthful dialogue, can people, come together and say wait a minute, I can see where they coming from, and they can say, well, damn well, let’s work together on this. That that requires truthful dialogue and what I’m trying to say to you is that the majority of people that you got in the Black Caucus today and the majority of black leaders of today, are not involved or want to be involved in truthful dialogue. No, that’s not their purpose, their purpose is to get paid. The basic purpose is to get paid. So every time you could tell me that’s not true.

Keith: I know that’s not true.

Dhoruba: Everyone. Everyone I ran into whenever whenever the time it hits the road, it’s about getting reelected and getting paid. Now, you talking about untraced power. You’re talking about our about how to move in power. I’ll give you a good example. When I was in prison right, when I went to prison in ’71. There were hardly any black police, black correctional officers in prison. After we done tore up the prisons and you have Attica and riots and George Jackson was murdered in California and you have black inmates agitating for unions, blacks in organizing unions before you realize that criminal justice was an industry. Criminal justice in America is an industry. And it applies on the commodity and the commodity is this: black flesh. OK, before there was this correctional officer, there was no black correctional officers. That’s all they got black correctional officers after Attica, because one of the major demands is that the prison guards have nothing in common with the prisoner. And it was just impenetrable barrier between Guard and inmate. Sociologically, politically, that the black officers come in and in order for them to fit into the system, they got to be as much like the white officers as possible. They got to engage in the goon squad beat ups. They got to do all that stuff. They got to go harass people, that’s what the system does OK.  Although every time you ask them, why they’re there, they want to make a difference. They want to make changes. So I asked a guard one time I said look,

Now you always telling me about how you want  to change the system and how you want to work, I said what If I was trying to escape. And it was nothing between me and freedom but you and your gun, and that, Would you shoot me? You know what he told me?  

Keith: You wouldn’t have told me unless it has a story.

Dhoruba: No I’m asking you What do you think?

Keith: Man, It’s your story tell it.

Dhoruba: The answer was, and he was in a dilemma. This guy is a genuinely nice guy. This dude ain’t no evil person that was in this thing, you know, to get the glory over people being locked up. This wasn’t no guy like that. So this was a guy that was kind of thoughtful. I said so would you shoot me?

You know, he said if my job didn’t depend on it. No. So I’m telling, that tells you. That told me then. OK, that told me then that going to an institution. You know, you can go into an institution with the best of intentions as an individual to make the best things that happen, effectuate the most change, and find yourself in an institution that will completely neutralize you and spit You out like a piece of food.

Keith: Well of course!

Dhoruba: Okay, I’ll let you talk now, I want to come to your point.

Keith: Thirty seconds!

Dhoruba: your point was,  that we should be involved in the process of empowerment, that we should try to get involved in the process of empowerment from the inside in order to facilitate change. And I’m saying that the system relies on you having that idea that you go inside and change and it will change you before it will change. (Applause)

Dhoruba: Was Dr. Martin Luther King inside the system? What changed America, and you got a point when you said, because a lot of us who organized on the outside are really afraid of the authority or the position of power. That once we get power we wouldn’t know what to do with it. It’s easy for us to sit outside and wish we could get inside and make decisions. And that’s true. That’s why you see every revolutionary government on the African continent wanted to power the elites. And those Revolutionary Party became the same forces to oppressed and exploited marginalize their people. the ANC, ANC PAIGC all of them organizations. Are now part of the institutional powers in those countries And if you could talk to people in Mozambique, in South Africa, you find out that nothing has significantly changed in their life to these people. Why? Because the nation, leaders in a community of nations OK, no matter what your intentions are, when you came into power, if you came to power in this revolutionary movement, once you became a nation state, you have to deal with all the other nation states in the world. And that means that a lot of your radical ideas had to change, that means that you had to  administer power a certain way. Nelson Mandela, didn’t go from prison to president by accident. He went from prison to President by design. And I can tell you, he was meeting with the financiers of Europe a year and a half, 18 months before he got out. So what I’m trying to say is that your role in the Congress, your role in the Congress, your intentions, your intentions, maybe your job, as you stated, your intentions may be to work inside the system and with people with common interests and better the lives of people trying to bring though sincere legislation and sincere policies that will address people’s needs. That’s what you basically are there for. You’re not there to get paid, to get rich, that’s not what you there for. Fine, I hear that. But I’m sayingThe system needs you inside to do that in order to do what it’s doing. That the only, that the real way to change this country is not from within the real way change came to this country historically is from without. It’s been from people organizing or without.

Keith: You don’t leave an opportunity to continue to work power on the table. 

Dhoruba: That’s like Nurembourg

Keith: I’m talking about is a mass movement. I’m talking about I am talking about not I don’t believe you have changed to change an institution from within by yourself. Of course, you cannot do it. Of course, that institution will work on you like like like like sand works on stone. And over time you can have a mass movement driving your connectivity.

Dhoruba: You just answered your question.

Keith: Well, what I’m saying is you said only without. I’m not saying only without. I’m saying that there is a ton a ton of things that you left out there are important to know. And that if all you do is tell people that, you know, the revenue stream who gets in power then becomes just like the institution.

Dhoruba: But there’s a reason for that.

Keith: My answer to you is, what are we going to do about it?

Dhoruba: OK, you want me to answer that question.

Crowd: Go, please do.

Dhoruba: What we do about what do we do about it. When the Black Panther Party in 68 called for people’s constitutional convention. Sixty nine, I’m sorry, 69-70 we call for people constitutional convention. Ok we were naïve. because at that particular historical moment. We had a massive anti-war movement in the united states. Okay, white kids were going to avoid the draft, it was massive anti war sentiment. Over 70 percent -65 percent of the people in the US was against the Vietnam war. Ok. At the same time, you have black power, the black civil rights movement, which was causing massive social change and upheaval. So you had this historical moment. Panther party said well damn, Let’s put all of the progressive people in the country together. 

Dhoruba: Call for a Constitution ratified progressive outline for a Constitution. Take it back to our local constituency  and see if we can work  on this constitutional amendment, to change the Constitution in ways that reflect the needs of people at that particular point in history. White people, yellow people, brown people, all of these folks. If you know anything about the history of the Black Panther Party, you know that , and that’s where my ideology began you know, we never talk about the acceptability of races. you know, the Rainbow Coalition idea. The notion of Rainbow Coalition came from the Black Panther Party, not Jesse Jackson.

Keith: That’s why I—

Dhoruba: So, so so therefore for you, so for you, therefore for you to misconstrue what I’m saying,—

Keith: I was surprised to see you said it yourself, which is because I know that.

Dhoruba: well, if you knew that, then you knew what I was saying wasn’t that.  

Keith: Maybe you changed.

Dhoruba: Maybe I changed? 

Keith: Yeah.

Dhoruba: I don’t think so. I think that if I changed, everybody changes. I think if I changed. If anything, I’ve become more, I’ve become more radical. But what I’m trying to point out here is, what I’m trying to point out is, is that when we look at the Voting Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act didn’t occur from within. It didn’t occur from within, it came from without. None of these, none of these things, none of these historical changes that you say came about as a result of the good will of people inside of government. It didn’t come about because of that. 

Audience Member: I just need to let folks know, before everyone leaves. But if you if you can throw a little bit more than that would be really appreciated. 

Dhoruba: Just remember when you bring up the meeting in the black Caucus.

Audience Member: What was that? 

Dhoruba: No I was talking to the brother here. When you bring up the meeting in the Black Caucus. Don’t be surprised if everybody looks at you crazy man. 

Keith: I’ll get word back to you. 

Dhoruba: Yeah I’m sure you will. Give Bobby Rush my regards.

More from this Writer

“To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.”
― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth