Congresswoman McKinney (D-GA) delivered this speech on June 21 at First
African Presbyterian Church, Lithonia, Georgia.
Good afternoon, we are here to discuss Zimbabwe. What we can do
for Zimbabwe and what Zimbabwe can do for us.
As a larger discussion, however, we ought to include what we can do
for ourselves and for others. And what we have failed to do.
Let us not forget Alberta
Spruill and Ousmane
Zongo, an African American and an African killed by the unique circumstances
that unite blacks and Africans in this country. Ousmane Zongo
follows in the footsteps of Amadou
Diallo, a young unarmed African man shot 19 times by racism in America.
Sadly, Diallo wasn’t the first African whose American dream was shattered
by the true state of black America and Ousmane won’t be the last.
Ousmane just happened to be a black man in an America too quick to kill
any black man.
Mrs. Spruill died because the NY Police Department had authorities that
had been given it by the Ashcroft Justice Department; authorities it
didn’t deserve. The NYPD decided to use those new authorities,
not in the corporate suites of Wall Street and Madison Avenue, where
corporate criminals rip billions of dollars off working class, tax-paying
Americans, but instead invaded the home of Mrs. Alberta Spruill, a grandmother,
who at the time was dressing for work when the NYPD busted through her
door. Literally frightened to death, Mrs. Spruill had a heart
attack and died. The police Chief later said, "I’m sorry."
The NYPD had disturbed the wrong lady, at the wrong home, at the wrong
address. Mrs. Spruill follows a long line of black mothers and
grandmothers who bury their husbands and sons in racist America - and
then they are buried.
This past Thursday, we celebrated Juneteenth. And in fact, Georgia
hosts the longest running Juneteenth celebration in our country.
As you know, Juneteenth is celebrated every June 19th, because that
is when the slaves realized that they were free.
January to June 1865 – the twilight of legal slavery in our country.
We share something with those blacks who had been freed but didn’t know
it. The blacks in Africa and the blacks in America. And
those blacks of 1865. And hence, we’ve remained slaves far longer
than should be. And neither of us has strategized effectively
to stay free. As a result, I suggest that we could easily be in
the twilight of our freedom. Both here at home and on the Continent.
Here at home, suffering the oppressions of unchecked racism we are unable
to help – and in some cases unwilling – to help our brothers and sisters
in Africa. On the Continent, our brothers and sisters help themselves
but sadly not their people and not us.
So we have come today to speak about Zimbabwe. And what prompts
that discussion? Headlines that inform us that Zimbabwe is coming
apart. Some would have us believe that we become heated over Zimbabwe
because of the country’s human rights abuse, democracy well over the
line toward autocracy, rampant corruption, and black racism. But
ultimately, the question is the land. Zimbabwe has embarked upon
a long-promised and well-overdue land reform.
But President Mugabe has known full well that the question of Zimbabwean
independence, even at its dawn, was hinged on the question of the ownership
of the land. For the question remains unanswered by those who
claim title to the land of how they actually got that land. And
if they are not willing to answer that question, then how can their
title to the land be legally valid?
But that is not just a Zimbabwe issue. That is an African issue.
For Africa was not a barren land devoid of people. Africa was
for Africans until the Europeans came along. And then Africa became
theirs and basically remains theirs to this day.
We African Americans have a lot of nerve getting upset about Africans’
failure to secure their own land when we have had and continue to have
an unprecedented and un-halted loss of land right here in America –
and never really secured the 40 acres nor the mule that we were due
for slavery, yet reparations were paid to slaveholders who lost their
slaves due to freedom.
I am certain that this exchange will be good and healthy and we all
will benefit from the information. But at the end of the day,
what will we accomplish and what are we willing to fight for?
And what are we willing to risk for?
Is Zimbabwe willing to risk severing its relationship with Herman
Cohen since Cohen has failed so miserably to prevent Zimbabwe hysteria
from reaching America?
And why didn’t Zimbabwe use its alliances and friendships with blacks
in the US and in England to explain its cause and have the tough questions
asked of "candidate" Blair and his New Labour Party?
Since 1998, three million people have died in Democratic Republic of
Congo. In 1994, one million Rwandans died because the US wanted
"regime change" in Central Africa. During the period
Savimbi romped across the Angolan landscape with American-supplied
landmines, making Angola the amputee capital of the world because the
US wanted a friend in power in oil-rich Angola. At the same time,
the world’s attention focused like a laser on the chopped-off hands
of little boys and 12-year-old raped little girls in Sierra Leone because
Albright tried to sneak Foday
Sankoh, the leader of the so-called rebels who were committing these
atrocities, into the democratically elected government so he could be
in charge of diamonds – to ensure cheap access to Sierra Leone’s diamonds.
Cheap in dollars maybe, but costly in black blood.
Kabila’s last words to me were that he told Susan Rice that he would
never betray Congo. And now Laurent Kabila is dead. He followed
in the footsteps of Patrice
So from Patrice Lumumba to Laurent Kabila to Amadou Diallo to Ousmane
Zongo. Our black men are under attack. But the source of
the attack was not from home. The source of the attack was Washington,
DC and a refusal to recognize the rights of black people whether here
We now have a "government" that is consolidating power and
taking away our very rights to organize and fight back. And while
we numb ourselves with Hummers and Mercedes, and mortgages that we could
lose tomorrow, our America is becoming a Republic in which we can’t
even be sure that our votes will be counted. It is imperative
that we stop the madness in the USA; and I guarantee you that then it
will stop in Africa. But, as I said earlier, I believe we are
at the twilight of our freedom.
When police in Benton Harbor, Michigan or New York City can pull a trigger
at a black man first and think about the consequences later, when we
have more young black men in prison than in college, when an 1860s South
Carolina anti-lynching law intended to protect blacks is now used to
prosecute blacks who get into fights with whites, when an entire town
- Tulia Texas - can indict its black men wrongfully of criminal acts
on the word of a white man, when parts of the Voting Rights Act expire
in 2007 and that issue is nowhere on our agenda, our failure to adequately
address problems that affect us here at home is evident. And how
can we save Zimbabwe when we haven’t yet taken the necessary steps to
In George Bush’s New World Order, all roads lead to Washington, DC.
And it is only in Washington, DC that we can effectively deal with our
problems and those that plague Africa. The Bush cabal is planning
regime change operations all over the world. They’re currently
threating Iran and Syria; rattling sabers at North Korea and China.
They’re unhappy with Russia and Germany. But if we don’t organize
ourselves carefully in this country, and reach across the oceans to
our African brothers and sisters, and they reach back, this could truly
be the twilight of our freedoms.
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