On Monday, June 24, lower Manhattan’s Brecht Forum hosted a presentation about an unlikely warrior as progressive educators Herman and Iyaluua Ferguson shared their experiences of community contributions with the intimate audience.
Their son, Michael Ferguson, introduced them before Iyaluua gave an abbreviated synopsis of the 310-page opus she published in 2011 about her husband’s lifelong liberation efforts.
Iyaluua explained how “Herman was fighting racism since elementary school” during the racist Jim Crow segregation period before he migrated to New York from North Carolina. He settled in Jamaica, Queens, and eventually aligned with some progressive people who serviced their communities, motivating him to
replicate their deeds.
“The Republic of New Afrika was something that Herman understood as a viable means for liberation,” she explained. “For those people who talked about, ‘That’s ridiculous, the whole concept of having your own nation,’ Herman understood what Malcolm X was talking about … you had to have a land base, somewhere you could associate with.”
She continued as Baba sat beside her, listening intently. “He was not in favor of Martin Luther King; he was not an integrationist. When Malcolm X came on the scene, he was saying things Herman understood, and Herman took any opportunity he had to listen to Malcolm.”
“Queen Mother’” Iyaluua spoke about her husband initially meeting Malcolm X in Harlem, how they soon thereafter frequently welcomed Malcolm in their Queens home, then how he witnessed, firsthand, the courageous Black Nationalist get gunned down at the Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965. “I feel that, that day a revolutionary was born. Up until that time, he was a reformer … when they murdered Malcolm, he kind of understood that wasn’t going to happen. … we had to do something else. He understood clearly that Black folks, if they want to survive, they have to separate from this racist system or destroy it!”
After being convicted in 1968 for conspiring to assassinate NAACP Director Roy Wilkins and Urban League Executive Director Whitney Young, Ferguson fled to Guyana, where he remained as a political fugitive for 19 years.
Upon returning to the U.S., he served three and a half years in prison, then he hit the streets of New York. He formed the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee and New Afrikan Liberation Front and worked with the Jericho Movement “all in efforts to find a way to unite our people to forge a strong enough weapon that we can use to get out for ourselves,” stated Iyaluua.
Baba Herman warned: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is a plot, a conspiracy on the part of the United States government, to completely destroy Black people!”