Overflowing tears and deeply felt emotions, wrapped in a red, black and green banner, will be on full display Saturday, May 16, when the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee will host a “special people’s memorial appreciating the life, legacy, sacrifice and commitment of the late Herman Ferguson, our legendary founding chair.”
Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, MXCC chair, told the Amsterdam News, “Baba Herman led by example. He was absolute courage, wisdom, truth and strength teaching and putting the world on notice that Black people have the absolute right to defend themselves against the tyranny of state and/or private white terror and violence ‘by any means necessary.’”
“I had no idea how much my life hinged on Herman,” wife Iyaluua Ferguson told the Amsterdam News. “Two of us were like the same person. We were like one. With all these things going on, like Baltimore and Mike Brown. Everything that happened, we would talk about it. I have no one to talk to now. It is lonely and dark.
“I am so grateful he was in my life, he was a major part of me. I miss him. But the love and the appreciation from our community keeps me up. Herman was loved the world over.”
Billed as a “moving gathering” entitled “A Revolutionary Change in Our Lifetime,” the memorial will take place at the House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, between Bond and Nevins streets, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Writing with his wife, a fellow former public school teacher, Ferguson penned his memoir, “An Unlikely Warrior” (http://anunlikelywarrior.com) in 2011. The book details his impressive and storied life.
MXCC press officer Zayid Muhammad spoke on the man known by some as “Colonel”: “Herman Ferguson, a founding member of Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity, passed away at 93 on September 25. He was a founding leader of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, a central leader in the Brooklyn-based struggle for community control of schools in the Black community in the late 1960s. He courageously founded the Jamaica Rifle and Pistol Association and the Black Brotherhood Improvement Association in the aftermath of Malcolm’s assassination. He was targeted by the FBI COINTELPRO operations, which still has dozens of freedom fighters in prison from that period, and faced a conspiracy murder conviction.
“In the face of that conviction, he exiled himself in Guyana and helped build their civil defense and education infrastructure. He retired from the Guyanese military a full lieutenant colonel. In an effort to clear his name, he returned to the United States in 1989, where he was summarily put in prison over his earlier conviction. Upon his release in 1992, he assembled some of the founding members of Malcolm’s OAAU and Muslim Mosque Inc., such as Yuri Kochiyama, Earl Grant, Jean Reynolds and Butch Gladstone, along with other well-known Malcolm-centered activists like ‘Black Holocaust for Beginners’ author Sam Anderson and poet Zayid Muhammad, and launched the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee. He would later launch an incredible run of the New Afrikan quarterly newspaper Nation Time with his wife Iyaluua Ferguson and the Jericho Movement with the late Safiya Bukhari.”
Among the guest presenters will be legendary poet Sonia Sanchez; the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, longtime pastor at House of the Lord; the forever fiery “minister of confrontation,” Pam Africa; Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid of Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood; and this reporter.
Honoring a request made by the man himself at one of the annual dinners for the families of U.S.-held political prisoners, George Edward Tait will present an ensemble reading of his legendary poem, “The Black Brigade.”
The event will also feature an open mic for community tributes to the pioneering revolutionary educator.
It is fitting that the memorial service for Ferguson comes just days before the Tuesday, May 19 observation of the 90th birth anniversary of Malcolm X. As always, as Ferguson encouraged, there will be the annual pilgrimage to Malcolm X’s gravesite, hosted by the MXCC and the Sons of Afrika. At 9 a.m., participants will assemble at the Harlem State Office Building, located at 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, to prepare to caravan to the gravesite in Ferncliff Cemetery in Ardsley, N.Y.
For information about either event, call 718-512-5008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.