African Liberation Day Remarks from Palestinian Youth

Greetings to you all! My name is Miriam and I am with the Palestinian Youth Movement. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party for inviting us to share this statement on behalf of the Palestinian movement. The PYM is a transnational grassroots movement of Palestinians and Arabs dedicated to the liberation of our homeland, our people, and all oppressed peoples across the globe. We are unable to be physically present at African Liberation Day this year due to the People’s Conference for Palestine happening throughout this weekend in Detroit. 

I want to start by addressing the rich history of AND present day comradeship between Palestinian and Pan-African anti-colonial struggles. Starting with all who are in the room from the AAPRP, friends, family, and comrades who are celebrating African Liberation Day, those who have a long standing commitment to the struggle for the liberation of Africa from neo-colonialism, and for the liberation of Palestine from Zionism. 

There are many examples in history of the joint struggle between our peoples. I want to highlight a few of these moments to show the continuity of this relationship, and in the hopes of deepening this relationship here in Detroit. In 1969, the Black Panther Party held a press conference in partnership with the Palestinian Liberation Organization at the Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algeria. This was a 12-day event to celebrate the 7 years of Algerian independence from the French and to convene the ongoing decolonial and anti-apartheid struggles in Namibia, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and South Africa. In 1970, member of the Black Liberation Army Sekou Odinga met with Yasser Arafat, the Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, alongside Donald Cox and Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panther Party. Sekou and other Black revolutionaries visited many nations in the Middle East in the 70s such as Kuwait, Egypt, and Lebanon to meet with revolutionary Palestinians on the front lines of the struggle. The tradition of learning between the Palestinian and Black struggles has been a continuous one up until the contemporary moment. The Dream Defenders is an organization for Black Youth which fights for the abolition of prisons and policing. In 2017, the Dream Defenders visited a refugee camp in the West Bank, Palestine, to bridge the experiences of Black youth in America and Palestinian kids living under similar conditions of mass incarceration and militarization in their communities, and also to find human connection through arts and culture. 

The Black and Palestinian struggles are grounded in shared conditions of oppression. We know that Israel was created to be a military base for Western powers in the Arab world and has support from the most racist regimes around the world and throughout history. Supporters of Israel include the US, Britain, France, Apartheid South Africa, and Germany, to name a few. These nations have also been central to the colonial and neocolonial oppressive structures across Africa, including nations like South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Libya, Guinea-Bissau, the DRC, Morocco, Niger, and Cape Verde. 

Over the past century, Palestinian land has been stolen, divided into arbitrary borders by Europeans, fought over by one colonialist to another, and claimed through forced expulsions of the Palestinian people, demolitions of entire villages, apartheid laws, and military force. Over the past century, the Palestinian people have retained and strengthened their revolutionary cultural and national identity, resisted with arms but also resisted by rebuilding a righteous world time and time again. In addition to the connectedness of our oppressions, the Black and Palestinian struggles are also grounded in the common goal of liberation from colonialism and for the self-determination of all oppressed peoples. Resistance should not have geographical limitations, nor should it be contingent on self-interest. These concepts should be understood within the logic of imperialism; capital seeks to expand and dominate. Therefore, we counteract that through coalition and solidarity. 

To speak a bit to the moment we are living in today: We are in the most violent, deadly, and brutal time in Palestinian history. We are also in the wake of the largest global Palestinian movement in history. Kwame Ture said that students spark revolution. Students are perfectly situated to question societal values and overturn them, and to bring popular support to their movements. As students process the inner workings of society in the classroom and prepare to become workers, they are faced with a crossroads of accepting the hegemonic structures that enable the violent imperialist forces, or reject them and build new structures for a just world. We saw students leading the Black power movement in the United States in the Black Panther Party and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and we are seeing it now in the Palestinian movement with the encampments around the globe. We have a lot of work to do to break through the oppressive imperial core, but I truly believe that the liberation of Palestine from the resistance fighters on the ground, will free us all. 

Finally, I will wrap up this statement with a quote from Malcom X, whose birthday we commemorated last Sunday, May 19th. Malcolm came to Detroit in 1965 the next day after his home in NYC was bombed, wearing the only clothes he had left after the bombing, determined to speak to the people of Detroit at the Ford Auditorium. He said, “We need a free Palestine… We don’t need a divided Palestine. We need a whole Palestine.” 

Say it with me: From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

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“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