Raise up the African Martyr!
February 21st is “The Day of the African Martyr.”
It was on February 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York that Malcolm X, one of the greatest African patriots of our honorable and noble struggle for total liberation from imperialism—white domination of our people, and the restoration of our status as upright and proud people as African martyr Thomas Sankara defined us.
No doubt it is difficult for our young to understand how an African living in the United States could live to a ripe old age.
That one could do this is probably incomprehensible to the conscious African youth.
There are probably millions of young Africans who believe that all old Africans are uncle toms.
How else can they explain their living to receive social security payments, having to endure the foremost of brutality and humiliation of any human being that ever walked or crawled the earth?
And for sure, nothing short of explaining the organized African Revolution and their place in it can suffice for an excuse for longevity.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela, leader of the Uhuru Movement, often tells the story of there being an African in every African community that the white people knew not to mess with.
They knew that if you messed with that African, you had to kill him.
And the white people killed thousands upon thousands of these Africans.
They did not have the organizational affiliations, or oratory skills of Malcolm X, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Huey P. Newton, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Hampton, Carl Hampton, Dedan Kimathi, Patrice Lumumba, or many other African martyrs whose names are quite well known.
But we must also raise to martyrdom these countless and nameless thousands of African martyrs for emulation in our glorious historical fight against all forms of colonialist oppression and exploitation.
It is time for us, the living African revolutionaries, to define for ourselves and for the people those who are worthy of martyrdom and admiration.
Comrades like Hydra Lacey, whose bold acts of resistance against a vicious St. Petersburg, Florida Police Department left two cops dead, and had the African community standing up and cheering in the streets for Hydra’s heroism.
Comrades like Lovelle Mixon in Oakland, California who stood up to police terror in that city, resulting in the deaths of four Oakland cops who were intent on murdering him. As a result of his stance of resistance the African community in Oakland held massive demonstrations in the streets hailing Lovelle as a hero.
And, of course, there is comrade Mark Essex (Mata’).
Seven days after attacking the downtown New Orleans Police Headquarters, where he shot and killed two cops, Essex emerged from living among the people, went to the top of the Howard Johnson Hotel in downtown New Orleans with the Red, Black, and Green liberation flag and a rifle, where he held police at bay for more that twelve hours.
Every time the military helicopter would try to approach his location, Mata’ would fire on the chopper and the crowds of Africans who had gathered below cheered and applauded.
When the smoke cleared Mark Essex had inflicted up to 22 casualties on police officials, 12 of them fatalities, including the Assistant Chief of Police.
The police reports were saying there was a squad of Black Panthers on the roof armed to the teeth. They were wrong. It was one lone African soldier.
To better understand the question of Martyrdom and the colonial and subject people, here’s a quote from African revolutionary, Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African Socialist International:
“The threat of death is the primary means of terror used against an oppressed people. When other forms of intimidation—prison, beatings, political harassment, etc.—don’t work, death and the threat of death are used to terrorize people into passivity. Death is the example of the power of the oppressor and the hopelessness of resistance.
“Martyr’s Day gives us an opportunity to counteract the fear of the death threat. By holding up our martyrs, giving them the heroic stature they deserve, we take the fear of death away from the oppressor.
“We state that there is something better than the empty lives of colonial oppression, something that can make life worthwhile and that something that can contribute to the value of life is death itself when it comes in the pursuit of liberation, for Africa and ourselves wherever we are.
“Instead of death being perceived as the example of the power of the oppressor it now becomes evidence of the absolute necessity for struggle and resistance against colonialism and capitalism.
“In addition, with this year’s Martyr’s Day we want to raise up individuals like Hydra Lacey and Lovelle Mixon because this gives practical significance to the idea of martyrs. These are individuals who need to be understood by our community and Martyr’s Day allows us to politicize their deaths as martyrs, notwithstanding their lack of political and organizational affiliations and consolidated belief.
“Objectively an act of resistance to the police is an act of resisting an arm of the colonial State. The fact that this resistance occurs even in the face of near certain death gives greater significance to the act and demands politicization.
“The police is the institution of the colonial government most Africans are in contact with more than any other. Support for this resistance is also what separates us and the masses from the quivering liberals of every national and political persuasion.
“Indeed, the police, the neighborhood cop, is the face of the colonial State, that dreaded institution that has to be overcome and taken out of the life of the masses as a part of the process of building our own state power.”
This is the understanding our great leader Malcolm X was conveying to us in his “Message to the Grassroots” speech when he said, “Don’t lay down our life all by itself. No, preserve your life. It’s the best thing you got. And if you got to give it up, let it be even-steven.”
Mark Essex heard Malcolm.
Hydra Lacey and Lovelle Mixon, whether they heard Malcolm or not, acted on his words of wisdom.
So have other countless thousands that this Black Revolution declares as African Martyrs.
And this is why the African People’s Socialist Party led the massive street demonstrations in Oakland, California holding up Lovelle as a genuine African martyr.
This is why the Party held up Dessie Woods in South Georgia in the 1970’s for killing her traditional oppressor, the white rapist.
And this is why the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement is Building its national convention in March this year to “Defend and Protect our Own.”
Therefore it is to this end and in recognition of the African Martyr’s Day resolution of 1981 that the African People’s Socialist Party calls on all Party organizations and supporters to organize Burning Spear African Martyr’s Day Forums in furtherance of our duty to those who have fallen in the struggle for African Liberation.
Long Live the African Revolution!
Long Live the African Martyr!