Incarceration Nation

Obama and Black History Month

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

As the Obama Administration winds down, what is its relationship to Black History Month—2015?

Of course, the election of an African-American was indeed an historic event, and history books will record this fact.

But it was also an attempt by the Democratic Party to lock in a constituency that would fuel its political ascendancy for generations.

In symbol, the election of President Barack Obama was a shock to the system. In substance, it was a lot less so, for beside this symbol stood a reality that Black life was under siege.

In 2014, summer broke with Black protest from coast to coast, led by youth; young people who knew in their heart-of-hearts, the White House could not protect them from a peculiar American practice of police terrorism, when cops could harass, intimidate, beat, choke, kick, stomp—and kill kids, boys and men—with perfect impunity.

Symbol, shining and bright; met substance, of blood and tears, and one shattered the other.

Tens-of-thousands stormed the streets in over 200 cities, to howl at injustice, and to demand—now—finally—“justice.”

For them, Ferguson became their Selma—and they faced automatic weapons and mad cops, with courage and fury.

Symbols are powerful things, yes; but Reality is more powerful still., February 8, 2015