We, the representatives of twenty million Afro-Americans in the United States, herewith proudly proclaim our resolute determination to build our own independent organization, to fight for our full freedom from oppression and to end forever the murderous attacks, the imprisonment, the slavery, the degradation, and humiliation that has been our lot in this country for close to 350 years.
Our mere organization will demonstrate to the world that the pompous claims of official propagandists that America is the land of the free, that it is the cradle of democracy where all persons are treated fairly and equally, or that genocide practices do not exist here are all mere empty lies. Our movement, based on truth and science, exposes the distortions, the lies, and crimes of those murderers and enslavers who have refused to treat us as worthy of respect and having the dignity of human beings.
Ours Not a “Color” or “Race” Movement
Ours is not a “color” movement. Only the color blind can maintain that there are “white” men or “black” men. All human beings are colored, with two basic pigments: carotene that gives a yellowish tint, and melanin that gives a brownish tint. As the human race moved Eastward in its migrations the carotene became more pronounced and the melanin tended to fade and we get the complexion of the Far East Asians. As the human race moved Southward the melanin became more pronounced and the carotene tended to fade resulting in a darker brown complexion. As the human race moved to the Western Hemisphere we find the bronze hue of the American Indian. As the human race moved North in the colder climate both carotene and melanin tended to fade and we get a “faded” colored man, a “pale colored” man, a mottled colored man with many tints and hues. It is this faded European settler who in this country has falsely designated himself as “white".
For many centuries these Europeans, originally from Asia, never dreamed of calling themselves “white". They called themselves Saxons, or Englishmen, or Vikings, or Slavs, never “white". They called the Africans Ethiopians, Egyptians, Libyans, Nubians, etc., from the various regions from which the latter came, never “black” as such. It is only when the Europeans became “Americans” that they began to use the word “white” to designate themselves. They did so because they wanted to separate themselves as far as possible from those whom they had kidnaped from Africa and enslaved and whom they called “black” just as when they murdered the American Indians they gave the victims the false name of “Redskins".
The term “white” then, when applied by the master caste in America, does not really mean a color, but means “MASTER”, and the word “black” when applied to those whom they have enslaved, does not mean a color, but means “SLAVE”, “OF SLAVE ANCESTRY”, “ONE WHO MUST BE KEPT IN SLAVERY". This is how the American master caste has distorted the English language. They designated the slave in America by the term “NIGGER”, a distortion of the Spanish and Portuguese “NEGRO” meaning “black". In America, then, the word “NEGRO”, like the word “BLACK MAN” is not used to designate a color, but to mean a ‘SLAVE,” “OF SLAVE ANCESTRY,” “ONE WHO MUST BE KEPT IN SLAVERY.".
The Afro-American today, by and large, is no darker colored than the Puerto Rican, or the Mexican, or the American Indian, or some of the immigrants to this country from other parts of the world, but only the Afro-American is called “BLACKMAN” and “NEGRO” because in the eyes of the “white” Americans only the Afro-American was his kidnaped slave and chattel. In spite of this we do not repudiate the term “Negro” in that sense because we are organized precisely to proclaim to the world that we, the descendants of Africans kidnaped and captured, tortured and killed, enslaved and degraded, are now strong enough to fight to end this slavery and torture and humiliation that has endured so long.
Ours is also not a “race” movement. We understand well that both Africans and Europeans originally came from Asia. We know that there are greater differences among the various African peoples themselves than there are between Europeans and Africans as such. We stand on the scientific principle that there is no other race than the human race and that human race is colored.
Murder, Kidnaping, Enslaving of the African
The facts of history have now been clearly exposed as to e vast extent and severity of the African slave trade during last centuries in which America had an active role. Here some facts we can not permit Americans to forget:
1. At least ten million Africans were shipped out of Africa during the 18th century alone as slaves for the Western world, the so called “free world.”
2. It has been estimated that for every person kidnaped and brought into the coastal compounds to await shipment as a slave, at least ten persons were killed in the interior of Africa. Whole villages and settlements had to be surrounded and set on fire, the women, children, and aged burned to death, large numbers massacred in the course of the raids, large numbers killed on the way. Thus to seize and capture the ten million slaves in Africa for shipment to America, about one hundred million Africans had to be massacred and murdered. A greater example of mass murder and genocide has never been known in all history than this.
3. The ten million Africans seized and imprisoned in the compounds were shipped to America under such conditions that at least one third of them died on the way over.
4. When the captured and enslaved Africans finally reached the Western Hemisphere they were often first brought into break in camps to train them for slavery. Here the masters could discover those who might be unruly and they hanged, burned, and tortured to death another three million. Finally, when the Africans were broken enough, they were sent to the slave traders to be sold for the plantations.
5. In the American colonies the slaves were put to very profitable use for their masters. The large plantations, the great wealth, the arrogant presumptuous manners of the Europeans in the Southern states of America were all based on the bitter slavery of African labor. This slavery was all the more cruel since it was perpetuated endlessly from one generation to another, from parent to children. A thousand times over has the labor of our African ancestors paid for the value of the lands now in the Southern states and from which we still have been deprived of title.
6. Already by the middle of the 18th century it had become plain to all Europe that slavery was an impossible institution to maintain. In England a strong movement arose to protest the African slave trade and any slave, once he touched the soil of England, immediately became free. Here was a good reason for the Southern planters to become so eager for independence from England. The Declaration of Independence was proclaimed by slave holders. The fight for independence from England was to them a means of perpetuating slavery in this country and of keeping the Africans enslaved forever.
During the course of the American Revolution, England tried to arouse the slaves to revolt against their colonial masters. It is true that a considerable number of Afro-Americans, especially in Massachusetts, were used as troops in the American Revolution, but this was because the rebel leaders could not get enough plain “white” people to volunteer. It was also a good way to confuse the slaves and prevent them from revolting.
It was with the victory of the colonies over England that the Europeans living here first became true “Americans”, that is, they became “Americans” at the moment when they showed their difference from Europeans by establishing the greatest system of slavery the world has ever seen. The fine phrases of the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal” were never meant to include the Africans who were then considered work animals rather than human beings.
Just as one of the basic reasons for the Southern planters rebelling against England was their fear that slavery might be checked or abolished by England, so was one of the causes for America fighting the French Revolution the fear that the Africans in the Western Hemisphere would use that Revolution for their own freedom. And when the Africans slaughtered the French imperialists in Haiti and declared their own independence a wave of horror chilled the bones of the American leaders. No wonder the Constitution of the United States closed the door to further imports of slaves from the West Indies!
And so also was one of the basic causes of the War of 1812 against England the fact that the British Navy patrolled the African West Coast and captured the American slave vessels wherever they could find them, freeing whatever slaves had not already been sent to the bottom of the ocean by the Yankee slave runners.
Euro-Americans and Afro-Americans
Leaving aside the original Americans, the American Indians, who are now the “forgotten men” of this country, those who came here can be classified into two great groups: the Euro-Americans and the Afro-Americans. The Euro-Americans who came from Europe came generally out of their own choice, so far as there was choice. Those who came of their own will like to say they came for religious freedom, as a protest against autocratic rule and oppression, etc., etc. Whatever they say they came for, they stayed to grab. They grabbed and despoiled the land and resources of the country, they grabbed all the people they could to enslave them. When the Indians, mercilessly slaughtered and driven to the outer regions of the country, could not be enslaved, they brought in Africans for enslavement. The Euro-Americans knew they could best get rich not from their own efforts but from the labor of those they could force to work for nothing.
The Afro-Americans, on the other hand, did not come of their own choice. They were kidnaped and brought here in chains as captives, as slaves. The “freedom” of the Euro-Americans was based on Afro-American slavery. The Afro-American grabbed nothing. He was, therefore, not a “true” American.
The great continent of America stood ready for seizure by the European. Each European who came to grab tried to become an independent businessman, especially a farmer. He would not work for others if he could help it. But if no one could be exploited for others, then how could the cotton planter or other employers get their labor, how could they accumulate capital? Slavery of the African was one of the chief answers. The great profits made out of slavery permeated to all sections of the United States and all Europeans profited directly and indirectly from this slavery. That is why these Euro-Americans have held on to slavery for so long. That is why they still keep the Afro-Americans in prison as specially oppressed workers and toilers.
With the development of industry, especially cotton, the wealth of the United States rose with leaps and bounds. It was when Cotton was King, when slavery was at its height, that the U. S. laid the basis for its present great world power. Its power was based on the slavery of the Africans, our ancestors.
To get more and more slaves, certain States, like Virginia, became slave breeding pens. Masters did not hesitate to rape the African slave women and then sell their own children as slaves “down the river.” “Down the river” meant the plantations of the deep south where it was carefully calculated that the owners could make most profit by working adult male slaves to death in seven years. And this was deliberately done. The food given these slaves was the food given to the dogs: cornmeal and pot liquor, and at slaughtering time hog maw, pig tails, pig guts, sow’s ears, pig heads, neck bones, such items as the masters would not dream of eating themselves. To balance the diet some mustard or turnip greens and an occasional piece of fish were thrown in. Labor in the fields, under the lash of the overseer, was incessant from sun up to sun down.
Slavery could exist only by depriving the people of education, of roads, of cities, of industry, of science, of civilized culture and decent feelings. In those days it was a crime punishable by death to teach a Negro how to read and write. The whole South became a huge prison camp dedicated to the peculiar institution of slavery with the poor local “white” population getting employment as slave blood hounds, posses, jailers and lynchers of the Negro people. Without such occupations the poor “whites” might have been forced to do constructive work; slavery kept them miserably “free.”
The tremendous development of slavery was bound to create a great split among the American ruling groups. Slavery made the plantation owner aggressive and militant constantly striving to dominate the entire affairs of the whole country. He could not understand or meet the conditions arising from the new and rapid industrialization of the United States. This industrialization needed cheap labor for its mines and mills. It needed schools, roads, railroads, factories, cities, instruments of production. The North fought with the South simply because the Southern planter through slavery was keeping the nation back.
The Civil War and the Afro-American
We have no illusions that the Civil War was fought for the benefit of the African slave. In the course of the Civil war, when hundreds of thousands of African slaves broke away from their masters and came rushing to join the Union Armies, the decision of Abraham Lincoln was to establish concentration camps and hold the slaves for their former masters. When Afro-Americans in the North volunteered to fight in the Union Army they were at first rejected and then when manpower became scarce they were taken into the Northern army in separate regiments to die at half pay the others were given. Although it was clear from the early days of the war that the Northern army was winning precisely in those areas where the Africans were thickest in numbers, no effort was made to organize African slave revolts that would have brought the Southern plantocracy to its knees in a matter of months, not years. It was no wonder that Wendell Phillips at the time called Abraham Lincoln the slave hound from Illinois and that Frederick Douglass, Afro-American leader, declared that ff Lincoln had been a creature and agent of the South he could not have acted more to their advantage.
The North needed cheap labor and needed to industrialize the entire country. It “freed” the slave to get this cheap labor and industrialization. It platonically declared that the Negroes should have the vote and also that if any State deprived the Negro of the vote the number of representatives this State could send to Congress should be reduced in the same proportion. But this has never been enforced. To this day Congress is in a conspiracy to prevent the enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment by refusing to deprive the Southern ballot box stuffers and gangsters who prevent the Negroes from voting from being removed from Congress as the Constitution demands.
When the Afro-American slaves were freed why were they not given the back pay that they had earned during all the years of slavery and of which they had been robbed and cheated? It has been estimated that their back pay would amount to about one thousand billion dollars. This is the least that could be done to make amends for the awful centuries of torture and despair that has been the lot of our ancestors and ourselves. Instead, Abraham Lincoln even at almost the very moment of Southern capitulation proposed to pay the Southern slaveholders 400 million dollars for the loss of their slaves while the African slaves, when “freed” were simply given the “air” and told they were now “Americans.” Thus we, their descendants, have been heavily handicapped from the beginning of our “freedom” by lack of resources. We have been robbed of our heritage. We intend to recover what was robbed from us.
Our Relations with the Faded Colored ("White") Workers
We recognize well that many Europeans who came here did not come of their own free choice. The thousands of prostitutes and jailbirds, deported from their mother countries, who were forced to come here, the hundreds of thousands of indentured servants who were sold in bondage to pay their passage over, the millions of poor who were literally kicked out of their home countries by poverty or oppression of one sort or another, these people really did not have “free” choice. Such Europeans, when they came here, tried hard to forget or overcome their past. The institutions of slavery made it easier for them to do so. Because of the slavery of the Afro-American, the Euro-American immigrant could get better jobs, get better pay, perhaps get a farm and not have to work for others. Such people can not be expected to become grant fighters for the Afro-American’s freedom. It is different when the country faces hard times.
When the “faded colored white” workers are desperately unemployed, or they are dying by the millions in war and they too are feeling the impact of the methods of our master class, then it is that they make the first feeble attempts of seeking the help of the Afro-American. Even then their efforts at unity are mainly with the cunning purpose to exploit the Afro-American for their own interests rather than to free the Afro-American. We must teach the “white” poisoned worker a little better the real meaning of unity and solidarity.
We say plainly our movement is not a color movement, not a race movement. All those who really want to free the imprisoned Afro-Americans are welcome to join us, but we will no longer be the dupe and tool of some European immigrant, or Euro-American, or “American” workers merely to fight for their protection. We place one simple test to all such “white” workers: How much are you willing to build up the power of the Negro workers, how much do you understand that the heart of the labor problem is the Negro problem, just as the heart of the Negro problem is the labor problem?
As part of our movement we intend to build up a powerful mass Negro Labor Party dedicated to the interests of the Afro-American in all fields of activity. All “white” workers are welcome to join this organization. We welcome the cooperation of all workers, regardless of shades of complexion, and we will try to join hands with all groups whose cause marches in the same direction as our own. The main point is that all our efforts are dedicated to the building up of the power of the Negro people in America in every possible way. The greater the power of the Afro-American the sooner will democracy and freedom come in America for all.
The Negro “Intellectual”
Since the so called freeing of the slaves in America a vast amount of propaganda has been issued designed to make the descendants of Negro slaves believe that they are Americans who owe allegiance to the United States and loyalty to the present regimes that control their lives. But as long as the country treats them as animals to be segregated and despised, how can the descendants of Africans brought here in chains feel that they owe allegiance to this country? The true Afro-American spurns with contempt this propaganda to make him believe that this society belongs to him or is part of his free choice.
The Afro-American plainly declares that for him the United States is a vast prison wherein he is forced to work for others at a pay far below even that given the wage slaves of paler color and under the permanent stigma of inferiority. He is treated as a pariah, a member of an inferior caste, an untouchable. He knows that those who give him the oath of allegiance with its hypocritical phrases of “one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all” are telling him a lie and they know it. He knows that the Declaration of Independence which states “all men are created equal” is not meant for him. He knows that the Constitution of the United States which declares that no State shall deprive a person of life, liberty, and .property, keeps him deprived of exactly these precious ingredients of his heritage.
There are some American Negroes who have been allowed to advance in this prison. They are the Negro doctors, lawyers, politicians, social workers and others who believe they have been accepted as “Americans.” They fail to understand that even a prison compound needs to have some medical care, for example, or the diseases would spread to those outside the prison as well. The slave must be cared for or he would not be able to work. Those acting as Negro trustees, jailers, dope peddlers and the like are employed to take care of the prisoners because the so called master “whites” want no part of this care themselves. The fact that there are Negro intellectuals who prostitute themselves before the ruling groups and call themselves “American Negroes” does not make prison life any the better for the great mass of segregated and hounded Afro-Americans.
We call on these Negro intellectuals to see through the pitiful favors that have been thrown to them as sops and bribes to tie them to the “white” masters and to prevent them from joining a political movement of the Negro people. Their place is with us, side by side with the Negro masses, the workers and toilers condemned now to a life of subnormal wage slavery. As part of our movement the Negro intellectual will rid himself of his “Uncle Tom” character.
Two Basic Positions: Afro-American and American Negro
The violence, hatred, cruelty, and cultural pressure engendered by American slavery have been so intense and protracted that it is no wonder some children of the enslaved African prisoners broke under the strain. Those who broke tried in every way to show the master group that they were really harmless, just jokers, or helpless cripples, or religious howlers and epileptics, or that they loved the masters and loved America, all of them Uncle Toms in one form or another.
Among the jokers and apparently helpless group are those who allow their voices to crack comically and go wildly up the scale at the least provocation, those who “shuffle” along instead of walking like humans, those who dare not look those whom they address in the eye or speak in a forthright manner as other humans, etc. Such mannerisms could be justified in the days of slavery, when to act human meant death for the slave, they have no place in our movement today.
To the “lovers” belong the religious howlers and epileptics, shouting, screaming, rolling on the floor, letting off their tension in such ways as to make the masters believe they are insane while at the same time mouthing phrases of love for all, including the masters. All this plays directly into the hands of the masters.
But the most dangerous element among the children of African slaves are those Negroes who call themselves “Americans,” who wish to forget their worthwhile African ancestry and history and whose sole wish is to be “equal” with the “whites.” This group makes no criticism of the system as a whole but believes that all would be fine if only Negroes were treated the same as others.
These people represent mainly Negroes with a little money. They will support Negroes killing Koreans, for example, if only they can get the vote in Alabama. They will yell for American domination over the entire world, if only they can get integrated schools. They are Uncle Toms who want to get a little higher price and a little nicer pat on the back for their loyalty to the master group.
When these middle class Negroes speak for equality of treatment or of opportunity, what they mean is they want Negroes to be allowed to become bigger businessmen to oppress the Negro workers in their own right, bigger landlords to be able to get more rents, bigger politicians to share in more of the graft and loot, etc.
What good is equality to the Negro worker when even the “white” worker is unemployed; does he want to be equal in unemployment? What good is “opportunity” to the Negro farmer when the “white” farmer is dispossessed? How do these Uncle Toms, who can only see “Equality” explain the fact that workers of other shades of complexion are destitute, unemployed, and often burning to overthrow the slave system throughout the world?
This does not mean we must not fight to end the sub wage slavery level in which American Negroes find themselves, that we should be content with worse conditions than others receive. Not at all. We must fight in every possible way to end these subnormal conditions which are the ordinary lot of the Negro people today. But the fight is not only against sub-wage slavery, but against all slavery, wage slavery and any other kind. We do not want “equality” in military conscription; we want no military conscription at all! We do not want equality in unemployment and hunger; we want no unemployment and hunger at all! We do not want equal opportunity in becoming a boss exploiting others; we want no exploiting bosses at all!
The insidious propaganda for loyalty to the master group has filtered down from master to Negro intellectual and from Negro intellectual to Negro worker and toiler until it has tended to overwhelm the entire Negro people in this country. The difference between the fighting Afro-American and the Uncle Tom “American” Negro can be clearly contrasted:
1. The Afro-American is proud of his African ancestry, history, traditions, and achievements. The Uncle Tom “American Negro” breaks with his history and wants to forget it, believing apparently that his African ancestors were somewhat like jabbering baboons in a jungle.
2. The Afro-American remembers the awful history of slavery and means to get complete restitution for the terrible damage done to his people. The “American Negro” wants to forget the slave days and may even boast that he is “lighter” colored than others, thus drawing a color line of his own in which his own color is superior.
3. The Afro-American cherishes all the traditions of African rebellions against the master class and knows that a mature group fights politically for its rights with all means in its power; the “American Negro” believes in the myth of “white” saviors like Abraham Lincoln to help him improve his lot.
4. The Afro-American has learned that he can advance only as the master group gets weaker; the “American Negro” is willing to fight for the master group and prays in return only to be allowed to live a little better or to be tolerated a little more.
5. The Afro-American works for the liberation of Africa; the “American Negro” works for the domination of Africa by America.
6. The Afro-American will join hands with other workers to end both sub wage-slavery and all wage slavery. The “American Negro” is willing to support the present system of wage slavery if only he can benefit more.
7. The Afro-American stands against all war organized by the masters; the “American Negro” is willing to die for the benefit of the master slavers of America.
8. The Afro-American is not an “American” in the sense that he is not a nationalist who wants to grab at the expense of other workers and toilers throughout the world; the “American Negro” is quite willing to grab as an “American,” even at the expense of others, so long as he alone benefits.
9. The Afro-American has no philosophy of individualism in which only the selfish ego of each grabber counts, but works for the welfare of the entire group; the “American Negro” is an ardent disciple of individual irresponsible grabbing even at the expense of the Negro people.
The Present Situation
The present situation is very favorable for our movement. So long as America was unchallenged in world affairs and could trample on other countries for its own benefit, it did not need to worry too much about how costly the segregation and discrimination against the Afro-American at home had become. It has been estimated that such discrimination results in an economic loss of $50 billion a year.
But when the United States is in a tough long battle for ,survival and needs all the strength it can get, for example, when it is at war, or when it meets an opponent like the Soviet Union, then it begins to see the costliness of its Afro-American prisons. Then it begins to make some effort to develop the capacity of the Negro people so that they will give their strength and lives better for the master group. This is the essential reason why Washington puts pressure for the end of segregation and for better treatment of the Afro-American.
Let us have no illusion about the matter. The “white” rulers and their agents in the ranks of labor, would like to use the Afro-American in the coming world conflict against the forces of Socialism or Communism. We do not intend to be used in that fight. If they want to kill themselves off , that is primarily their concern.
It is not our duty to fight the battles for our “white” masters. If they wish to continue their imperialist policies let them fight their own battles. The more they perish, the better it will be for the cause of freedom for all the enslaved the world over. To the “white” master caste the Negro people are expendable as cannon fodder; to the Afro-American it is they who are expendable, not us.
Twenty million Afro-Americans organized solidly in a disciplined army pledged to non cooperation with a regime that kills and robs and humiliates us, can make itself felt throughout the world. The real savages inside the gates of our country are the pale face ruling groups that have sold ,our flesh in the past and will continue to consume us as the cannibals they have proven to be. It is they who are our primary enemy and whose rule we are pledged to end.
Though we fight for the Afro-American primarily, our victory is not our victory alone, but a victory for the entire working class, of whatever color shade, a victory for entire humanity. That the “last shall be first” has been writ in large letters for all history tho read. We mean to realize this prophecy in our time. It is for this that we pledge our lives and our sacred honor.