of the biggest challenges African people face in America is to rejuvenate Black Nationalist thinking
as struggle to determine for ourselves as a people what is in our
best collective interests.
are far too many African people in this country who think what is
good for other people should be good for us. Nothing
could be further from the truth. We can only determine what is good
for us by reestablishing Black Nationalist thinking and developing
a Black Nationalist program of action. This is the missing link
to the liberation of African people in America.
Let us briefly review the development and impact of Black Nationalism
Nationalism is a tradition that emerged in the early nineteenth-century
among those Black leaders who understood the need for African people
in America to develop a national entity as the only
solution for Black people in North America,
Latin America, or the Caribbean.
nineteenth-century Black Nationalist leaders such as Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, David Walker,
Henry Highland Garnet, James T. Holly, Martin R. Delany,
Pap Singleton, Edwin McCabe, and Henry McNeal Turner understood that African people in America
were a “nation within a nation” and should organize to collectively
struggle for the liberation of Black people in this country and
throughout the world.
this era there were some Black Nationalist leaders before,
and after the Civil War, who led movements
for people of African ancestry to leave this country and establish
a homeland somewhere else. These proposals included Africa,
Canada, and the Caribbean.
Black Nationalist leaders led movements for Black people to control
the towns where they lived and others who led movements to the western
region of this country to establish all Black towns in Kansas
core of this Black Nationalist tradition has been to defeat and
overthrow the system of white supremacy,
seize control of land (somewhere) and to achieve self determination
for the oppressed Black masses.
Black Nationalist tradition has always been opposed to integrations,
assimilation, and accommodation as a solution to the problems of people of African
ancestry in America.
In this regard, Black Nationalist tradition
has rejected the strategy and tactics of appealing to the morality
of white people and their white supremacy system.
Nationalists have been historically clear that people in power don’t
teach powerless people how to get power. And they certainly don’t
give power away, even though,
when challenged, they may give up some
Black Nationalism emerged in the twentieth-century,
the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the establishment of the
Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the African Communicates
League (ACL) became the leading spokesman for Black Nationalist
ideas and organizing.
used his varied skills to become on of our true twentieth-century
freedom fighters. Garvey arrived in Harlem, New York on March 16,
1916. By 1919, Garvey was well established as the President General of the UNIA/ACL
that had membership of over three million people with more than
three hundred branches in the United States.
Garvey’s greatest contribution to the upliftment of our people,
through Black Nationalism, was his ability
to find a formula for organizing African people around the African
principle: the greatest good for the greatest number.
was reflected in the First International Convention of the Negro
Peoples of the World, in Madison Square
Garden, in 1920. Over twenty thousand Black people from all over the world
witnessed the choosing of Red, Black, and Green as the colors of the Provisional Government.
this context, Garvey and the UNIA/ACL had established an economic arm,
the Negro Factories Corporation, with
cooperative stores, restaurants, steam laundry ships,
tailor shops, dressmaking shops, millinery stores,
a doll factory to manufacture Black dolls and a publishing house.
Also, Garvey formed a Steamship Corporation.
Black Nationalist tradition was continued in the twentieth-century
through the Nation of Islam and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad who
utilized many of the Garvey and UNIA/ACL organizing tactics and
was during the 1960s Black Power explosion that the Black Nationalist
tradition reemerged through the influence of Malcolm X who adopted
Black Nationalism as the political philosophy,
economic and social philosophy of the organization of Afro American
Unity in 1964 after he left the Nation of Islam.
Finally, the Black Nationalist tradition, today, is spearheaded through the African
Centered Education Movement. The mass acceptance of Kwanzaa,
African Liberation Day, Buy Black Campaigns, the Reparations Movement, and Controlling
Our Own Communities Campaigns are all part of the ongoing Black
vigorous Black Nationalist thinking and an aggressive Black Nationalist
program of action, we will continue to chase false dreams created by our oppressors.
We must put an end to this!
Black Nationalism is understood by all Black people,
it will be the foundation upon which the true liberation of people
of African ancestry in America
will take place.
W. Worrill, PhD, is the National Chairman of the National Black
United Front (NBUF).
to contact Dr. Worrill.