It’s day two of #Kwanzaa and today’s prinicple is self-determination: having the power to define, name, and identify “self.”
We have all heard, “To thine ownself be true,” and “Know Thy Self.” We all also remember the infamous scene in Alex Haley’s Roots in which Kunta Kinte refuses to submit to the name “Toby” because of his understanding of self. Nothing gives a person more power, more drive and more purpose than self-determination and identity.
In 1966 when Maulana Karenga founded Kwanzaa, it was existed right in between ugly tragedy, beautiful affirmation. In 1963 were the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers and the bombing deaths and murders of six little Black children in Birmingham, Alabama–4 girls in a church earlier in the morning, and 2 boys later that evening. The beautiful affirmation right in between those ugly tragedies, however, was the reality that Black were determined enough to organize The People and take an equal rights and socio-economic agenda to Washington, DC. In record-breaking numbers with the March on Washington in 1963, the mission was accomplished. But, more tragedy followed in the heinous lynchings that claimed the lives of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi in 1964. Leading into 1965, the world was confronted with yet another vile act of oppression and hatred in the assassination of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz on February 21st.
Somehow, our communities found a way to celebrate our beauty and to also celebrate the lives of those we had lost, an African tradition. Cassius Clay, better known to the world as Muhammad Ali, announced his joining of the Nation of Islam and his name change, too in 1964. The spirit of Kujichagulia allowed Muhammad Ali to define himself before there was even Kwanzaa. And, after Kwanzaa was established in 1966, Muhammad Ali further determined the fate of his life and his boxing career in 1967 when he refused to fight in the Vietnam War, for which he ws tried for draft vision, fined $10,000, stripped of his boxing title for three-years, and given a five-year prison* sentence. While there is tragedy in the consequence, there is so much beauty in Muhammad Ali’s determination to stand firm in his conviction.
By 1967 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Harlem speaking at the Riverside Church denouncing the Vietnam War, another act of self-determination. On April 3rd, 1968, the night before Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, TN, he delivered his energized speech, almost akin to a foreshadowed eulogy, and advised The People on how spend their monies to further grow and develop their communities through acts of self-determination.
In the spirit of Kujichagulia, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense began in 1966. The Black Panthers provided to its communities health care programs that focused on understanding how to treat sickle cell and empowered The People to be more knowledgeable of this disorder. The Black Panthers also defined how they would look, how they would serve the community, and how they would lead The People.
In 1989, KRS-ONE of Boogie Down Productions created the Stop the Violence Movement to address violent acts of murder that claimed the lives of his band member Scott LaRock, a fan, and other people within various communities. The Hip-Hop Community came together and released a song called “Self Destruction” as a means to make Black communities more accountable and responsible for our behaviors toward one another.
In the 21st Century, we have continued to witness even more ugly tragedies in the shooting deaths and unanswered deaths of countless Black men and women like LaQuan McDonald and Sandra Bland. These acts have given rise to the Black Lives Matter Movement, a beautiful affirmation that we get to decide the value of our people even when others demonstrate we matter less. Kujichagulia equips us with the power of this affirmation.
*Muhammad Ali remained out of jail while his case was appealed. In 1971, his conviction was overturned by the United States Supreme Court and Muhammad Ali went on to become the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the world for the third time in his career.
Reblogged this on ThePoliDay Report.
Men tend to not admit that it is important to them while women state out loud that it is.
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Just as the shorter days in autumn signify the time
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