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Our heroes have more to say

On February 5, Cory Booker, a Democratic party member who ran for president in 2020, posted a tweet which was a quote from the civil rights activist Fred Hampton:     

“We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.” Fred Hampton #BlackHistoryMonth” 

While this quote is very inspiring, it is also very strange. This quote is taken out of context and made to seem more politically moderate than it actually is. The full quote is:

“We don’t think you fight fire with fire best; we think you fight fire with water best. We’re going to fight racism not with racism, but we’re going to fight with solidarity. We say we’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism, but we’re going to fight it with socialism. (…) We’re going to fight their reactions with all of us people getting together and having an international proletarian revolution.”

Is it evident why this quote was severely censored? Hampton was a member of the Black Panther Party and a staunch socialist who frequently talked about the need for a revolution in America to build a society that worked for all people.

It’s no secret that most mainstream American politicians are still having flashbacks of the McCarthy era and continue to bash socialism any chance they can. While they can most certainly try to persuade the youth one way, Black History month is a time to show that many people whom we call heroes of the civil rights struggles were the same people these mainstream politicians would aggressively attack if they were alive today. 

Does anyone actually think if Hampton were alive today trying to educate the people to start a socialist revolution that Booker would support it? It’s not very likely. As stated before, there are many other icons that have their legacies ignored. 

When Martin Luther King Jr. is talked about, we never hear where he said, “Something is wrong with capitalism,” and “There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” Bernie Sanders may be the only one who uses King’s quote in context, such as when Bernie quips “Socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor,” which is a line taken from King.

MLK is often tokenized to the point where people forget he was a real person who wrote down what he believed and had strong principles he stuck to. It’s to the extent where even right-wingers invoke MLK into arguments and speeches, and that’s ironic considering MLK would almost certainly be criticized by these same people if he were alive today.

Next is Nelson Mandela, who struggled to help end segregation in South Africa. Mandela is celebrated worldwide for his accomplishments and speeches about racism, colonialism and being the first black president of South Africa (1994). Nelson Mandela was also a left-wing socialist revolutionary who today is glossed over as just another “civil rights guy.”

Here is a quote from Mandela: 

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”   

That brings us to Malcolm X. Malcolm is known for being a radical. However, all that is really said about Malcolm X is that he was violent. This description of Malcolm X is not only disingenuous as Malcolm wasn’t always violent, but it also paints this false image that it was Malcolm X vs. MLK, when truthfully, even Malcolm said he wanted to work together with MLK. Malcolm was similar to MLK in feeling there should be a difference in our nation’s government, as shown by this quote:

And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat or a Republican, nor an American. I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy – all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America, not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism. We see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream. We’ve experienced only the American nightmare.

Black History Month is the time of the year where many black heroes get their histories erased and boiled down to a few sentences (often just a few factoids). While there will be many talks about the black community’s leaders and heroes, notice how rarely the politics of those heroes come into the discussion. If you want to learn more about these amazing black heroes, you should definitely watch/read the books/speeches they did themselves, and you’ll see a whole new side of these special people.

by Corey Blue

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