[sixties-l] !*WW Interview with Sis. Safiya Bukhari

From: Ron Jacobs (rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu)
Date: Wed Jul 17 2002 - 10:08:56 EDT

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    >From: luisa brehm <lubrehm@clix.pt>
    >Date: Mon, 01 Jul 2002 14:53:30 +0100
    >From: WW <wwnews@wwpublish.com>
    > -------------------------
    > Via Workers World News Service
    > Reprinted from the July 4, 2002
    > issue of Workers World newspaper
    > -------------------------
    > By Imani Henry
    > In 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale created the Black
    > Panther Party for Self Defense in their hometown of Oakland,
    > Calif., to wage a struggle against police brutality in their
    > community. By 1968, the Panthers had chapters in more than
    > 20 cities, about 5,000 members on the books and thousands of
    > sympathizers.
    > In 1969 the U.S. government opened a full-scale assault
    > against the Black Panthers through the Counter Intelligence
    > Program--COINTELPRO. By 1971, due to infiltration, frame-
    > ups, dissemination of false information, and outright
    > violence against the BPP, the organization had begun to
    > dissolve.
    > To this day, former members of the Black Panther Party,
    > including Mumia Abu-Jamal, remain in U.S. jails for their
    > political activism.
    > I had the honor of interviewing Safiya Bukhari, a former
    > Black Panther and Black Liberation Army leader who spent
    > close to nine years in prison. Now the co-chair of the New
    > York City Free Mumia Coalition and an international
    > organizer of the Jericho Movement, she continues to struggle
    > to free hundreds of political prisoners of war and to fight
    > for the liberation of her people. The following excerpts are
    > the first installment of the interview with this courageous
    > freedom fighter.
    > IH: I wanted to ask you about your childhood and what
    > influenced you and brought you into the political struggle?
    > SB: I was born in 1950 in Harlem Hospital. When I was 9
    > years old my grandfather took me to South Carolina. So I had
    > a lot of experience in the South on the farm, but we moved
    > back and forth from the South to New York several times. And
    > the whole community where I grew up in the South and even in
    > the North were relatives, so I never had the experience of
    > racism, because I never came in contact with people of other
    > races until I went to college.
    > I left home the summer of '67 and went to college. And it
    > was the second year of college, in 1968, that the Black
    > Power Movement was really going strong and everybody was
    > changing their names and getting involved. But I was very
    > one-track and I was going to be a doctor. So I never had
    > time for the clubs at school.
    > But on a dare, I pledged a sorority and it was then that I
    > learned about racism--because it was the first year that
    > Black people were even allowed in that sorority and so we
    > elected a Black president.
    > One of the things we were talking about at a sorority
    >meeting was about foster care and sending monies to foreign
    > countries to feed hungry children.
    > And the president that year (her name was Beatrice) said at
    > the meeting, "Why should be sending monies somewhere else to
    > feed hungry children when there are hungry children right
    > here to be fed in New York."
    > And nobody believed her. This was the "land of plenty."
    > Because there was no such thing as starving children in the
    > United States, right?
    > So we were sent out, myself and two other women, on a fact-
    > finding mission in New York to determine whether there were
    > hungry children that needed to be fed.
    > So we got on the train and went to Harlem. The first people
    > we met coming off the train were some Panthers.
    > We told them what we were there for and they took us around
    > and showed us the breakfast program, and things like that.
    > The rhetoric they were talking about and everything else
    > that at the time, I didn't believe it, I didn't adhere to
    > that, but I did get up in the morning and go to the
    > breakfast program and cook and feed the kids. And then we
    > noticed that the children weren't coming to the breakfast
    > program, even though we were doing everything we were
    > supposed to do. We found that the police were lying and
    > telling the kids and parents that we were feeding the kids
    > "poison food." Now, we were eating the same food right along
    > side the kids, but the parents believed this--that is, the
    > idea that the police wouldn't help but they would try to
    > keep kids from getting fed.
    > That to me ... you know, why would you do this? It was
    > inconceivable. That was the first thing that got me
    > thinking.
    > The second things was, my sorority sister Wanda and myself
    > were downtown on 42nd Street, and we noticed that there was
    > a Panther selling papers and the police were harassing him.
    > So we asked what was going on and the police said to me that
    > my asking the question was obstructing a governmental
    > process and then I said that he had a constitutional to
    > right to disseminate political literature.
    > The cop said I was inciting a riot and said that if I didn't
    > shut up that he was going to arrest the both of us. So quite
    > naturally I didn't shut up because we had rights. So he
    > ended up arresting me, Wanda, and the Panther, putting us in
    > handcuffs and throwing us in the back of the car.
    > By this time, I've shut up because I am still thinking, this
    > is totally not right, and then Wanda was mouthing off,
    > selling woof tickets and everything.
    > This was the very first arrest and I am being arrested for
    > following the Constitution. And they told Wanda if she
    > didn't shut up they were gonna ram a nightstick up her
    > ______.
    > And she quite naturally didn't stop. Once we got to the 14th
    > Precinct, they put us in cell and called for a matron to
    > strip-search us. Because according to them we could be
    > carrying anything. When the matron came, the cops told her
    > that she should put on some gloves because there is no
    > telling what we might have. Then they strip us. We went
    > through that whole process and then they gave us that one
    > phone call.
    > When I called home I told my mother that I had made a
    > decision about what I wanted to do and I decided that was to
    > join the Black Panther Party.
    > [Next week--Part 2]
    > - END -
    > (Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to
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    > changing it is not allowed. For more information contact
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