>August 11, 2000
>Ignore Gore, Bush -- Remember Jackson
>By Jonathan D Farley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>It's not news. It's probably not even remembered anymore,
>except by the principal actors and their families. But at
>the time, August 7, 1970, it caught people's attention like
>the sound of a shotgun blast in a crowded courtroom.
>The place: Marin County, California. The Halls of Justice.
>The person: A 17 year-old whose desire for Life was greater
>than his desire to continue living, armed with weapons of
>war and with even more foreboding weapons of truth: the
>ten-point program of the Black Panther Party. His name:
>In 1970, America was at war. Not only in Vietnam, but in
>the streets of America -- Watts, Rochester, Detroit. And
>while the embers had cooled from the fires that raged after
>the Dreamer's death, the conditions that King had preached
>against -- economic and social inequality -- still persisted.
>The Black Panther Party's program was the beginning of a
>solution: free health clinics, free grocery give-aways,
>free breakfasts for children, independent black schools,
>and community control of police, in part through the
>mobilization of legal, armed patrols to curb incidents
>of brutality, like the episodes we just witnessed in
>Montgomery, Alabama, and in Philadelphia. (Not to
>mention the Republican Convention.)
>While many blacks, and most whites, feared the militancy
>of the Panthers, mostly due to the spreading of negative
>propaganda by government agents, 43% of blacks under 21
>had "great respect" for the Party. It would take a miracle
>of Biblical proportions for Gore- Lieberman to get such
>The reason was that the Party didn't merely talk about
>solving problems: they found answers. Their only obstacle
>was FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who wrongly branded the
>Panthers "the greatest threat to the internal security of
>the country," and mounted a vicious campaign to disable
>their leadership. One of these leaders was Jonathan's
>brother, George, a Black Panther sentenced for one year-
>to-life, ostensibly for stealing $70. He, along with other
>politically active prisoners, was being railroaded to the
>gas chamber by the authorities.
>Jonathan Jackson decided that the roll-call of black
>martyrs, from Medgar to Malcolm to Martin, to the Black
>Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Bunchy Carter, would stop
>here. He walked into the Marin County courthouse with a .38
>pistol and a carbine rifle, saying, "All right, gentlemen...
>I'm taking over now," and demanded the release of Black
>Panther political prisoners.
>The State's response was as vicious and violent as
>the Soviet response to the uprisings in Hungary and
>Czechoslovakia. Jonathan Jackson was shot dead. Angela
>Davis, falsely linked to the incident by the authorities,
>went into hiding.
>George Jackson, who was himself to die in a barrage of
>police gunfire a year later, wrote: "Terrible Jonathans
>teethed on the barrel of the political tool, hardened
>against the concrete of the most uncivilized jungles of the
>planet -- Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco --
>tested in a dozen fires.... They will be the first to fall.
>We gather up their bodies, clean them, kiss them and smile.
>Their funerals should be gala affairs... We should be sad
>only that it's taken us so many generations to produce
>It may seem strange, even wrong, to pay homage to someone
>who abandoned non-violence in order to save others' lives.
>But is it really? This summer we honored thousands of black
>veterans who, on the battlefields of Europe and Asia, used
>violence to advance other men's aims. We honor Martin, but
>also Colin Powell, whose Gulf War campaign left 200,000
>dead. We should not balk or feel ashamed to remember the
>sacrifice of a man-child, a revolutionary, who saw that we
>have "to make people organize and resist the ruin of their
>lives," that "the time for talking has ended, the time for
>acting has begun." A boy who would certainly have become one
>of the black leaders whose absence we lament today, had he
>lived. We can praise his passion and his principles, even
>if we disagree with his tactics.
>We should be sad only that it's taken us such a short time
>to forget him.
>Dr. Jonathan David Farley, 30, is a graduate of Harvard and
>Oxford and a mathematics professor at Vanderbilt University.
>He lectures across the country on "How to Get Straight A's"
>and the Black Panthers.
>Copyright (c) 2000 Jonathan D. Farley. All Rights Reserved.
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