The Black Scholar: Ferguson, the Black Radical Tradition and the Path Forward
By Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, The Black Scholar, August 26, 2014.
Can’t you feel it? Feel the temperature dropping? Feel the icy winds blowing? It’s winter in America. Spring and fall seem to have enveloped summer. The chill comes sooner and lasts longer. It’s winter in America. There’s a blizzard coming. The first frost has already fallen, in Ferguson, Missouri, of all places. Ferguson has ripped the veil off. It is now clear for the world to see how the U.S. plans to deal with its black internal colony.
It’s getting dark; it’s nearly midnight. Yes, repressive episodes will continue to increase in frequency and grow in intensity. It’s nearly midnight. However, we should not despair. Enveloped in the darkness, the repressive U.S. regime of racial control has been exposed by the black light of African American youth rebellion and more importantly, through their defiance we can see the silhouette of a new era emerging. Don’t fear the dark. Dawn begins at midnight; midnight is “the first minute of a new day.”
I am of course referencing Gil Scott-Heron, the Black radical griot, second-generation political rapper (Langston Hughes and Oscar Brown Jr. first generation) and self-proclaimed “bluesician”. Our children are maturing in Ferguson; they are not only challenging the State, but as importantly, they are also defying the decrepit civil righters. A new movement is being born in the darkness of Ferguson, Missouri. The new reality, the new nadir has established the structural conditions for the birth of a new movement. We need to supply the consciousness. “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it” according to Frantz Fanon (Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth New York: Grove Press, 1969, 206). Each generation creates new organizations, associations that address the problems they confront, that speak their language; that expresses their style and articulates their analysis and understanding of the path forward. The NAACP in the early 20th century, the National Negro Congress during the Great Depression, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1950s, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the early 1960s, the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, etc. This process of generational organizational formation appears to be occurring before our eyes. However, it is the dark of night, so we cannot see clearly, but however dimly, it does seem that in Ferguson, Missouri, Black generation Xers are discovering their mission...read more.