Acknowledging the under-reported, yet essential everyday contributions of the Black community to every aspect of every part of the economy, the culture, the civic and the socio-political engagement, Black Solidarity Day was celebrated on Monday, Nov. 7.

In the affectionately named People’s Republic of Brooklyn, the New Canaan Baptist Church hosted a program honoring the anniversary of the day inspired by Douglas Turner Ward’s 1965 play “A Day of Absence.”

The human rights group December 12th Movement hosted “this annual coming together of African Americans to reflect, rejuvenate, and further develop plans to resist oppression in the next year, [which] was initiated by the late Dr. Carlos Russell.”

Inez and Chales Barron Credit: Nayaba Arinde photo

With an audience filled with people from all walks of life, young and old, active and eager, experienced and new, speakers shared that it was important to forge a path with Black solidarity in mind. With an ‘old men for counsel, young men for war,’ philosophy, the experienced elders in the room spoke on a variety of issues, and younger folks listened and spoke later on what they thought, and how they are organizing.

Dr. Kamau Kokayi spoke on his career and feted contributions as a medical doctor, herbalist, alternative medicine practitioner, former publisher and WBAI radio host.

December 12th Movement co-founder Viola Plummer slammed the failure of the city, state and federal governments to address the real issues that face us, such as education, unemployment, housing, but particularly “health care…because if you don’t have it you die.” She demanded that the people fight for the implementation of the life-over-death and illness New York State Health Care Act. 

Whatever their issue, “take one of them and follow that one,” to ensure that when politicians come looking for their donations, people should stand up and fight for what concerns them.

City Councilman Charles Barron attacked the “racist capitalist system” which he said is leaving the masses in dire straits. As of now, he said, with the cost of living and food prices being so high, “It would be cheaper if you ate your money…the necessities of life are for profit; housing food, shelter, clothing, medicine…all the necessities of life you need to live.” He added despite always being told not to mention it, “under socialism it’s free.”

Kamau Kokayi Credit: Nayaba Arinde photo

Assemblywoman Stephanie Zinerman said that from gentrification, to mass incarceration and other methods of oppression, under the systems that be, “It looks like in 2022, they’ve gotten to the point that they believe their own lies––and are trying to convince us that we’re crazy, that we don’t understand that they’re trying to get rid of us.” 

Meanwhile, as they train in woods, plot and plan to destroy those they see as a threat, the community too must have a “preparedness” agenda. Black Panther activist Zayid Muhammad delivered one of his fierce, on-the-issue poems, and demanded the release from decades of incarceration of Dr. Mutulu Shakur, who had trained others in the ways of medicine.

As Black Solidarity Day always takes place the day before a general election, State Senator Jabari Brisport had encouraged folk to go out and vote. The Black Solidarity Day tagline is always, “No work. No school. No shopping,” but to recognize that “our collective experiences and voices are vital. Let’s address the serious issues before us; from reparations to housing and quality health care is a human right.”

The program began with a video of Black Solidarity Day founder Afro Panamanian Dr. Carlos Russell talking on the power of unity; there was also a brief audience question/statement portion of the program where people expressed the way forward in terms of the actions and activities they were involved in.

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