Never pass up the opportunity to hear history told from the vantage point of someone who actually lived it. If our desire is to understand the “who, what, where, when, how, and why” questions about the events of today, we must understand history–what proceeded or even facilitated these events. History books never tell the full story of what happened with any real level of accuracy. So, if you really want to know what happened, you need to look to accounts from people who were actually there. On this episode of The Axiom Amnesia Theory, Heit & Cheri welcome lifelong human rights activist Efia Nwangaza to the show to discuss a variety of subjects related to the current and historical struggle for freedom.
Topics discussed include how she got started in the struggle for human rights, African liberation, Black nationalism, desegregation of Girard College, Civil Rights Movement, John Chruchville and the Freedom Library Day School, Bill Cosby’s documentary “Black History Lost, Stolen, or Strayed,” Zionist involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, growing up in segregated versus desegregated schools, Kwame Toure (Stokeley Carmichael), Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown), Richard Wright, Martin Delany, David Walker, Maria W. Stewart, criticism of school voucher programs, white supremacy, the military industrial complex, where the struggle for civil rights and human rights is today, March on Washington, Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March, misrepresentation of history, the effect of Barack Obama’s election on movement for civil and human rights, WMXP 95.5 FM Voice of the People Community Radio, criminal justice system, feeding of Black children into the prison industrial complex, “Black Robes, White Justice” by Bruce Wright, plea bargains and mass incarceration, WMXP and the Prometheus’ Radio Project, Citizen’s United case, MLK’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, speaking the truth regardless of its unpopularity, and more!
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Human Rights Activist Efia Nwangaza
- Discussion about how Nwangaza got started in the fight for human rights. She was born into the struggle, having parents who were followers of the philosophy of Marcus Garvey. They used Garvey’s principles in nation-building through the Apostolic Church. They viewed the church as a vehicle for African liberation. Her family did work with orphanages. In college, she moved from church activities to associations with organizations like the NAACP in college.
- Discussion about her family’s involvement in desegregating Girard College, which was originally designated for white male orphans. Her sister now serves on their advisory board.
- Nwangaza discusses the struggle for Girard College’s desegregation as her first experience with police terrorism and torture. She recounts the details of some of these incidents with the Philadelphia Police.
- She found herself confronted with the role of Black nationalism, as represented by Malcolm X through John Churchville, in such a hostile environment in terms of where their limited resources should be placed–time, money, etc.
- She served as an after-school tutor at the Freedom Library Day School in Philadelphia, which was hightlighted in the Bill Cosby documentary, “Black History Lost, Stolen, or Strayed:”
- Nwangaza discusses the concept of the school.
- From Philadelphia, Nwangaza went to Spelman College in Atlanta, and became involved with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
- Nwangaza became involved with the Atlanta Project, which involved the drafting of SNCC’s “Position Paper: The Basis of Black Power.” The position paper served as the basis for the theoretical underpinnings for the call for Black Power, as popularized by Kwame Toure (Stokeley Carmichael) and others.
- Discussion about school desegregation.
- Nwangaza’s father was an clergyman who was active in the fight to abolish the death penalty.
- Discussion about Nwangaza going to a segregated school. She says that she loved it, and also pointed out that she didn’t know anything different. The teachers were like second parents, and the environment was an extension of the home. There was a high commitment to education, ethics, codes of conduct, advancement, and achievement. Going to a segregated school was not unlike the experience at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) today.
- Nwangaza’s parent’s placed a high value on education, being self-educated themselves. She discusses growing up in a literate household. They were expected to read at a young age, and engage in discourse in an intelligent fashion.
- Discussion about how the Garvey Movement affected everything regarding Black Unity at that time in the 1960s. It affected, religious, economic, and cultural community. It brought to bear a particular kind of consciousness of ethics and principles.
- Nwangaza recounts her first experience with integrated schools in Philadelphia. It was like two schools in one, with academics in one area and vocational studies in another. There were Blacks, whites, and Asians present. Most Black students were not in a position to realize their potential. In the segregated schools, the teachers worked to help the students reach their potential.
- Discussion about Camille Bell being a classmate of Nwangaza, whose son (Yusef Bell) was murdered in the Atlanta Child Murders of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
- Nwangaza says being in a segregated school was a very healthy experience.
- Discussion about the hijacking of the Civil Rights Movement by Zionists, which continues to haunt and undermine the struggle for African human rights. The modern movement was funded almost exclusively by Zionists, which resulted in the shaping of the agenda and practices of organizations like the NAACP and the Niagara Movement.
- The highest honor of the NAACP is not named for an African person. The Spingarn Medal is named for a Zionist who was the chairman of the board of directors for the organization. The idea was to model oneself after the principles he believed in.
- SNCC was different from the NAACP. They operated under the same limitations of resources, but they decided that Black Unity would determine its own agenda–Blacks would identify and promote their own leadership.
- Discussion about the phrase “Black Power,” which had been used prior to its popularization in the 1960′s by author Richard Wright among others. She considers them as advancing a, then, modern call for Black self-determination that had already been started.
- Discussion about Martin Delany, David Walker, Maria W. Stewart.
- Maria W. Stewart called on Black women in particular to stand up and take leadership and responsibility for the advancement of the race with her quote, “How long shall the fair daughters of Africa be compelled to bury their minds and talents beneath a load of iron pots and kettles?”
- Discussion about SNCC’s call for the end of the Vietnam War and the human rights of Palestinians. When this occurred, Zionists withdrew funding from SNCC. This should have been the ultimate lesson for people in the movement that the movement should be self-financed.
- Today when you see organizations like the NAACP taking money from corporate entities and elected official to advance their personal and organizational agenda. This compromises their obligation to the Black community.
- Discussion about the drawbacks of the school voucher programs, and what its real purpose is. Black schools should be comparable to white schools.
- The struggle was never about going to school with white kids, but to have comparable accommodations.
- Back during segregation, the teachers had advanced degrees in Black schools, compared with today, where education and experience are scarce.
- Whites can no longer afford private schools, so they drain off money from the public funds to finance and subsidize segregated education in order to maintain economic and political supremacy. Many voucher programs only subsidize a portion of the education, such that the poor Black family still cannot afford to make up the difference.
- Discussion about the move toward privatization for the purposes of ultimately shutting out the poor.
- Discussion about the redistribution of wealth and tax dollars being used for human needs, rather than the military industrial complex.
- Discussion about Barack Obama selling out the people.
- Discussion about where the struggle for civil rights and human rights is today. Nwangaza says that every generation is a new beginning.
- Nwangaza says, “I understand that folks’ general understanding of history is what I call a television view of history–the Hollywood view of history.” Discussion about how this is only a small amount of the activity, which is done by a very small about of activists.
- Discussion about the March on Washington taking 20 years to come about. Mention of the same thing with Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March taking years in the making as well. It took at least 10 years for him to pick up the mantel of the Nation of Islam as was created by Elijah Muhammad.
Pictures like this are an example that people don’t fully understand the Civil Rights Movement. MLK said that we are not involved in the struggle for electoral office.
- Nwangaza says, “Because we don’t understand how movements are built, and what these momentary high points of visibility actually mean, then we get confused about where we are, and what we’re doing, and what we’re supposed to be doing, and where we’re supposed to be going.”
- Nwangaza gives the example of how we see all these pictures of Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, who said that we are not engaged in this struggle for electoral office.
- Discussion about civil and human rights activists who remain in supermax federal prisons. We don’t know their names and most of us don’t even know that they exist.
- It is important that we study history. Not the mythology, but that we actually become scientific in approach to reading and using history.
- SNCC never had more than 200 paid staff people over its entire lifetime. It provided the theoretical framework out of which we came to celebrate Black Power.
- Kwame Toure (Stokeley Carmichael), Cleveland Sellers, and Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) were vehemently opposed to Black Power. She says that Kwame said they were crazy and were trying to destroy SNCC.
- Discussion of the misrepresentation of history. Example of Rosa Parks is given. It is demeaning to the struggle when people suggest that she didn’t want to get up because her “feets was tired.” Rosa Parks was well-connected in the movement. Nwangaza says that “We have to break up that [historical] mythology. [..] We must not allow people to take comfort in the notion that the visible ones are the exceptional ones. [...] Each and every one of us have the same capacity and indeed the same duty.”
- Discussion about the effect of the election of Barack Obama and the failure to realize a Black agenda. Nwangaza explains that we have a lot of “cheerleaders,” not people who are engaged in “substantive movement building, community building, and agenda development.” She refers to Obama as white power in blackface. He appeals to the emotionalism of Black people, not the scientific approach.
- Discussion about WMXP 95.5 FM Voice of the People Community Radio, founded by Efia Nwangaza for the express purpose of being a vehicle of education and motivation for community engagement and advocacy for an assertion of human rights of African people. The purpose is to call attention to the condition of African people here and abroad.
- Discussion about whether there is really a difference between being called, “nigger,” “slave,” or “felon.” There is no difference. Despite the name change, the phenomena and condition are the same. The sentiment is still the same.
- The function of African people as compared to whites in the country has always been for the benefits of whites.
- Discussion about “crime” and punishment as it relates to Black people in the country. There is a huge gulf in the application of it.
- Discussion about the feeding of Black children into the prison industrial complex. The challenge is to recognize that the reality versus the image of Blacks in the country.
- Discussion about the criminal punishment system being an economic system–both historically and modern day.
- Mention of the book “Black Robes, White Justice” by Bruce Wright.
- The judge, prosecutor, and all other players in the system live off of the flesh of oppressed Blacks. We were originally brought to do the jobs in America, now we are the jobs.
- African Americans are the abused and adopted children who were kidnapped and have symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. We don’t know who we really are, and we have been abused in every way imaginable. Yet, we identify with the abuser.
- Discussion about the overwhelming use of plea bargains playing a major in mass incarceration. This is a cost-savings.
- In the United States the number of prison cells is projected and built on the basis of children who cannot read at grade level in second grade. There is no plea that is going to bargain out of this class. By the time the plea is made, the person is already in the system, and it is only a matter of processing them.
- Prisons create jobs for the white middle class.
- It only costs about $3,500 to teach a child to read, but the country would rather spend $35K per year to lock that person up 10 years later. This is a crime against humanity.
- Discussion about the history of WMXP and the challenges keeping the radio station going. It originally grew out of the Prometheus’ Radio Project to liberate the airwaves.
- Disussion about the Clinton Administration’s SCC and trying to liberate radio.
- Discussion that there are only six major corporations that control the media–the quantum and quality of information in this county.
- Discussion about Citizen’s United and its effect on the 2012 election.
- Discussion about how Barack Obama is meeting to decide how he will give up benefits and services people need in favor of pleasing corporations.
- People should listen to Martin Luther King’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam.”
- Discussion about noncommercial educational radio, and the establishment of low-power community radio during the Clinton Administration. Blacks have not taken full advantage of this opportunity.
- WMXP covers more than 100K people in their local coverage area in South Carolina.
- Discussion about people who have gone through the prison system and now serve to educate the community.
- WMXP 95.5 in Greenville, SC needs people to help with financial support of their efforts. You can find out more information by visiting their website or sending a tax-deductible donation to the following address:
P.O. Box 16102
Greenville, SC 29607
- Discussion about speaking the truth regardless of its unpopularity.