Viola Plummer—A voice for the people

Olayemi Odesanya | 9/1/2016, 2:06 p.m.
“I am a Black woman who recognizes and celebrates her African ancestry,” Viola Plummer responded to an Amsterdam News question ...
Viola Plummer Solwazi Afi Olusola

 “I am a Black woman who recognizes and celebrates her African ancestry,” Viola Plummer responded to an Amsterdam News question about how she described herself. “I have faith that our people will eventually be free!”

Plummer is known to be the audacious civil rights activist in the Brooklyn community. She is also the chief of staff to Assemblyman Charles Barron.

Plummer told the paper that she has been a freedom fighter since 1954, and always believes that “our people should unite as one against our oppressors.” Grown men hang on her every word, and women clamor to hear her words of wisdom, all the while admiring her seasoned skill set and prowess.

At the age of 17, she joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, after witnessing what she calls a racist unjustified act by the United Nations. “I didn’t just want to be a witness, I wanted to be a part of the movement,” she said with glaring honesty. Since then she continued to speak against racial discrimination in the Black community. She has participated in several thousand protests, rallies and victories over the years, such as successfully shutting down the “Scottsboro Boys” musical in 2009, closing down retail stores in Harlem in the honor of Malcolm X’s birthday, bringing awareness and calls for justice for U.S. political prisoners, campaigning to get rid of inexperienced Schools Chancellor Kathy Black and fighting against unchecked police brutality and the influx of drugs, guns and gentrification in the Black communities. These actions are just a few examples of the work that Plummer has engaged in.

Bringing to mind the words often attributed to fearsome abolitionist Harriet Tubman, “I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves,” Plummer told the Amsterdam News, “What change we could have if we all united in great numbers.” She believes that to effect change in our communities, we should join local organizations and participate in the movement. “You cannot expect a change when you are not a part of the solution,” she said. In fact, in 1986, as local, national and international issues brought many matters of social, economic, judicial and political injustices to a head, along with Sonny Abubadika Carson and many other eminent activists, Plummer created a civil rights organization, on Dec. 12, 1986.

The December 12th Movement’s mission was, and is, to bring awareness to Black people and solutions to the institutionalized wrongdoing by governments visited upon targeted Black communities. For years their slogans, such as “Whose streets? Our streets!” “How we gonna win? The hard way!” have spoken to their No. 1 raison d’être, that they “want all of us to unite as one so that we can fight against our oppressors.” This movement has brought the group to international conferences and meetings in countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Haiti, Belgium and Venezuela. After Brooklyn-based activist Carson died in December 2002, Plummer became the head of the December 12th Movement. 

The mainstream media does not note her attributes as a respected community organizer, Plummer states. Instead, they talk about her uncompromising attitude, and how she stood trial in 1985 with seven co-defendants on charges of plotting to break out of prison two members of a group of people convicted in the 1981 Brink’s armored car robbery in Rockland County, in which a guard and two cops were killed.