Welcome, to the radio magazine that brings you news, commentary and analysis from a Black Left perspective. I’m Glen Ford, along with my co-host, Nellie Bailey. Coming up: Black people gathered in East St. Louis, Illinois, and nearby Ferguson, Missouri, to mark one of the nation’s most deadly racist assaults, 100 years ago. Mumia Abu Jamal challenges the prosecutorial racism that put him in prison, 35 years ago. And, the Green Party puts forward a candidate for mayor of New York City.
But first – Rev. Edward Pinkney, the veteran community leader from mostly Black Benton Harbor, Michigan, is breathing free air for the first time in two-and- a-half years. Rev. Pinkney was released from prison after serving 30 months of a maximum ten year sentence for trying to recall a mayor allied with the giant Whirlpool Corporation, which has long dominated his city. The newly released political prisoner recalled his ordeal in the Michigan prison system.
A century ago, white mobs killed hundreds of Black people in East St. Louis, Illinois, in a slaughter that shaped Black politics for much of the remainder of the 20 th century. Back in 1917, when the white media spoke of “race riots,” they meant mass white assaults on Black communities. Many historians now refer to attacks like the one on East St. Louis, as pogroms — organized racist bloodbaths. Dr. Randy Short was a principal organizer of three days of actions marking the massacre. He says these rituals of mass murder were standard white political behavior, for many generations.
The Green Party’s candidate for mayor of New York City, Akeem Browder, thinks his fight to get on the ballot will be successful, despite the difficulties that small parties face in challenging the rule of the duopoly, corporate parties. Akeem is the brother of Kalief Browder, the young man who spent one thousand days locked up in New York’s infamous Rikers Island jail, before charges against him were dropped for a crime he didn’t commit. Kalief Browder then fell into a deep depression and committed suicide. His brother Akeem’s challenge to Mayor Bill Deblasio is an uphill climb. Diblasio was once seen by many as the great progressive white hope for New York. But, fewer people feel that way now that he’s up for re-election.
The 4 th of July is just another day behind bars if, like Mumia Abu Jamal and many others, you are a political prisoner in the United States. Mumia’s 35 years in prison, much of it on death row, in the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, has been marked by many courtroom dramas, punctuated by massive mobilizations of his worldwide supporters. There was encouraging news on the legal front, last month. Black Agenda Radio producer Kyle Fraser spoke with Dr. Johanna Fernandez, a professor of history and African American Studies at Baruch College, and a key organizer in the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home. Dr. Fernandez explained the complex legal issue that is now before the Pennsylvania courts.
And that it’s for this edition of Black Agenda Radio. Be sure to visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com, where you’ll find a new and provocative issue, each Wednesday. That’s www.BlackAgendaReport.com. It’s the place for news, commentary and analysis, from the Black Left.