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Black liberation movement impact Chicago’s upcoming elections

By staff |
February 13, 2019
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 Frank Chapman of FRSO and Field Organizer of the Chicago Alliance
Frank Chapman of FRSO and Field Organizer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Chicago, IL - Rev. David Thornton, pastor of the Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church, welcomed the crowd, February 10. Referring to the program for the event, sponsored by Freedom Road Socialist Organiza-tion (FRSO), he said, “I think that the Freedom Road Socialist Organization has a strategy of building a united front against monopoly capitalism.” Recalling his sermon that morning, he added, “This reminds me, this morning, when I shared with the congregation the importance, if you really want to make a difference, to leave the safety of the shore and go into the deep waters. This is certainly an organiza-tion that is engaged in deep waters.”

He then introduced Evangeline Jackson of FRSO, who led the singing of the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

In opening the forum, Ariel Atkins of Black Lives Matter - Chicago quoted the indigenous woman activ-ist from Australia, Lilla Watson, “… if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” As an example of this kind of alliance of shared liberation struggles, she said, “I saw when the Ferguson police pepper-sprayed unarmed protesters filling the streets, furious over the murder of Mike Brown. Palestinian victims of Israeli violence stretched their arms to Ferguson with advice how to ease the burden in their eyes.” This vision of solidarity has helped BLM - Chicago’s #NoCopAcademy campaign, which has garnered the support of five Black candidates for mayor.

A strike captain from the Chicago International Charter School Ralph Ellison High School, Jamal Barnes, a member of the Chicago Teachers Union - Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff spoke. Barnes ex-plained, “My kids in my school need a library. My students need additional social workers. That’s what we’re fighting for on the picket line at Ralph Ellison.”

Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of CTU, began by explaining that conditions that impacted on these elections took place four years ago. “The way we got where we are now is because people are of-fended. How do we then get people to knock on doors? It is offensive that 50 Black schools were closed for Black children in this city. It is offensive that we watched a boy being murdered by 16 shots. It’s offensive that homes where Black people lived no longer exist, and what exists are vacant lots. How do we build on the victories and the gains that we have already made?”

Frank Chapman of FRSO and Field Organizer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repres-sion, spoke then about the strategic alliance between the Black liberation movement and the labor movement. “Why do we call it the strategic alliance? Black folks are mostly proletarians. We’re op-pressed by the same system: capitalism. We see this alliance as essential to bringing about the demise of the system.”

Chapman commended the CTU, “for what you’re doing for the labor movement. You don’t see any manifestation of this strategic alliance in the labor movement as a whole. But here in Chicago, we see it in our relationship to the teachers union.”

“This election is the first time since Harold Washington that I have seen so many young Black people, grassroots people, who have thrown their hat in the ring running for office. What has motivated them is the stinking, rotten City Council.”

Referring to the struggle for an elected civilian police accountability council (CPAC), Chapman contin-ued, “The exact number of candidates we have supporting CPAC now is 68. In the last election, we had only one. That’s because these young people are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

“This forum is being held with less than three weeks before election day. We need to stay focused on protesting at the polls, getting out the vote, and accomplishing a political realignment in city hall. We’re turning these elections into a referendum on CPAC.”

Finally, he ended, “We need to prepare for the period after the new council is seated, we’ll need the movement to keep the pressure on.”