“We can say that the Freedom Party was born in the heat of struggle, in the heat in Do-or-Die Bed Stuy,” said Omowale Clay of the December 12th Movement, a co-organizer of Sunday’s state-wide meeting to launch Councilman Charles Barron’s bid for governor and the launch of the Freedom Party.
The room was testifying, and all praises were due as the energy was live and the love self-evident in the sweltering basement of the Siloam Presbyterian Church in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, on Sunday, June 27.
“This state is going to have a rude awakening,” declared Barron. “The Freedom Party is ready. We are about to get out 15,000 petitions. Volunteers are pouring through the door at our Sista’s Place headquarters. I’ve never seen anything so powerful, so electric, so inspiring. We are excited. We have our slate. We have Eva Doyle from Buffalo for lieutenant governor. She is a wonderful Afro-centric educator on the level of Regent Adelaide Sanford. And we have the Harvard trained lawyer Ramone Jimenez from Brooklyn for attorney general. This is so tremendous.”
The Freedom Party launch and vast organizing meeting amassed folks city-wide, from Long Island and upstate. There was a definite buzz in the room.
Oh, and there was dancing–nothing can get a party started like James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud” and McFadden and Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.” ‘Twas a sight to see Charles Barron’s mini two-step, co-chair Viola Plummer’s getting down-on-her-good-foot lean and Jitu Weusi’s smooth “Big Black” sway.
And then there was the quiet and humble demeanor of one John White, the Long Island father who defended his family against a marauding bunch of “nightrider” white boys in August 2006 who came, they said, to rape his wife and kill his son. John White was not going to let that happen. An altercation ensued. Daniel Cicciaro was shot and killed.
Despite a grassroots hue and cry and the proclamation that White acted in self-defense, White was convicted of second-degree manslaughter last year. There are calls being made for Governor David Paterson to pardon the construction worker, who is now facing two to four years in prison.
Regarding the “archetypal man who defended his family,” Omowale Clay boomed on Sunday, “[John White] helped resurrect our manhood. No matter what happens to him, he is already a part of Black history.”
And the crowd roared as White took his seat at the head table with Barron, Freedom Party Co-chair Jitu Weusi, former WBAI program director Bernard White, Rev. Herbert Oliver and educator professor Donald Smith.
Humbly, John White smiled and while praising the creation of the Freedom Party, said, “I might not see it, unless Charles Barron becomes governor and pardons me.” Freedom is not free, he noted, telling the crowd that it can come at a catastrophic price, as he knows.
Three hundred-plus people packed the steaming room and listened attentively to speakers like party Co-chairs Plummer and Weusi as they explained that the main reason why Barron is running for governor is because that is the rule if someone wants to form a new party.
“The party must run a candidate for governor and receive 50,000 votes,” said Weusi. “The Freedom Party now has to gather the required 15,000 signatures from July 6 to August 17 to get the party’s candidates on the ballot.”
No problem, said folks in the audience with infectious enthusiasm.
“Sunday was exhilarating,” Barron told the AmNews. “It almost felt like we were down South. It reminded me of a Fannie Lou Hamer meeting, with 300 people packed in a room with the big fans going. The spirit of Viola Plummer was marvelous; she kept us moving. You can’t compete with the energy of ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,’ and James Brown’s ‘I’m Black and I’m Proud.’ It was magnificent, and we are making history.
“As we marched out of the church, down the block to Sistas’ Place coffee shop, people on the street were excited, and we were anxious and excited to get ready for the petition drive that begins on July 6. People can come to Sistas’ Place (459 Jefferson Avenue, on the corner of Nostrand Avenue in Bed-Stuy) on Monday, July 5 to pick up the petitions, and begin petitioning on July 6. Here we go!!”
For more information, call (718) 857-1427.