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Black History: Giants of the resistance

Green Shoot Media
Black History: Giants of the resistance

Black history is filled with the names of people who fought against oppression in pursuit of progress.

Often unpopular in their time, four people among the many who demanded justice include Marcus Garvey, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis and Elaine Brown.

Marcus Garvey

Born in Jamaica in 1887, Marcus Garvey was a political activist, journalist, orator and the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. A Black nationalist in favor of Blacks migrating to Africa, his views were often unpopular even among other civil rights activists.

What became known as Garveyism included the dream of a united Africa that would welcome back the diaspora. He longed to see Black people be financially independent and free from white oppression and discrimination. He encouraged Black pride and self-worth. His ideas helped launch such movements as Rastafarianism, the Nation of Islam and the Black Power Movement.

After moving to the United States in 1914, he founded several businesses, including the Negro Factories Corporation and the Negro World newspaper. In 1923, he was convicted of mail fraud. While Calvin Coolidge commuted his sentence, he was deported to Jamaica in 1927. He died in London in 1940.

Stokely Carmichael

Born in Trinidad in 1941, Stokely Carmichael, who later changed his name to Kwame Ture, moved to the U.S. when he was 11 and became an active member and organizer of the Civil Rights Movement. He was one of the original freedom riders of 1961 and a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

A voting rights activist, he helped bring voting access to Black residents of Mississippi and Alabama. A believer in Black power, he was known for his fiery speeches and eloquent writing.

In 1968 he moved to Africa, adopting the name Kwame Ture, and began promoting pan-Africanism. He died in 1998 of prostate cancer.

Angela Davis speaks during a lecture in 2014. PHOTO: WIKICOMMONS

Angela Davis

An author, activist and fierce advocate for Black empowerment, Davis was born in Alabama in 1944.

A communist and a member of the Black Panther Party, Davis was a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego. Her political opinions were cited as the reason the California Board of Regents refused to renew her appointment as a lecturer. It took until the 1990s for her to be able to again take up academic posts.

In 1970, an escape attempt was made during George Jackson’s trial. She was linked to the event because of evidence showing that the guns were registered to her. She went into hiding and was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. Once captured, she spent 18 months in jail before being acquitted by an all-white jury. Such musicians as the Rolling Stones and John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote songs about her to support the “Free Angela Davis” campaign and the Angela Davis Legal Defense Committee.

In 1997, she identified as a lesbian and has continued to champion causes for the Black, LGBTQ+ and women communities.

Elaine Brown

Born in 1943, Elaine Brown was a prison activist, author, singer and one-time presidential candidate.

She was the first and only female leader of the Black Panthers, which she led from 1974 to 1977. She has written several books about criminal injustice and is active in the legal appeal of a prisoner who was convicted in Georgia at age 13 for a murder she says he did not commit.

She is the CEO of a non-profit that helps to launch and sustain for-profit businesses by people who were formerly incarcerated or have other major social barriers to economic survival. She recorded two albums of original songs — one for Motown records, “Until We’re Free” and “Seize the Time” which is now available on iTunes.

Green Shoot Media