The Revolution will not be televised

On this day, April 4, 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Yesterday I wrote about the speech Senator Robert F Kennedy gave to a predominately African American crowd in Indianapolis, announcing King’s death. Those days before social media platforms, the crowd was largely unaware of what had happened in Memphis. What happened in Indianapolis the day Martin Luther King was assassinated

Every year there is a remembrance of what happened that day. Remembering the death of Martin Luther King. And Bobby Kennedy asking the country to work to fulfill King’s dream of racial justice.

I was surprised when I attended this remembrance in 2016 to hear my friend Chinyelu Mwaafrika perform the rap song “The revolution will not be televised” by GIL SCOTT-HERON, 4/5/2016.

My friend, Chinyelu Mwaafrika from the Kheprw Institute, performs part of the rap song, “The revolution will not be televised” by GIL SCOTT-HERON, 4/5/2016

With these lyrics, Heron single-handedly coined what became an early slogan for the Black Power Movement: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” became a warning to Americans everywhere hiding behind Saturday night reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies and luxuriating in a society glorifying the white image. The song urges Americans to wake up and realize that the time for change had come, and that no one would be able to remain safe and ignorant behind a television set. This fight was going to take place in the homes and streets of the American people, and there would be no avoiding it or denying it any longer.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Gil Scott Heron and the Power of Poetry by Kaitlin Barker, Black Power in American Memory, April 19, 2017

I knew Chinyelu from the Kheprw Institute. He sometimes led community book discussions. And one of the kids I taught photography.

KI IMG_20160422_1919521
Kheprw Institute, Indianapolis

It didn’t take long for me to became aware of the significance of how KI was building a vibrant community despite having almost no financial resources.  They depended upon their self reliance, continuous study and social experimentation, and community partnerships to become as self-sufficient as they could be. KI is a model of how we need to be creating similar communities everywhere as we move beyond capitalism.

I’d forgotten how long I’ve been writing about the necessity to build an alternative to capitalism. The paragraph above was written in 2018. Nexus of the Kheprw Institute, Indigenous Peoples and Quakers

In a posthumously published essay, Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out that the “black revolution” had gone beyond the “rights of Negroes.” The struggle, he said, is “forcing America to face all of its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism and materialism. It is exposing the evils that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.” Martin Luther King’s Radical Anticapitalism – PopularResistance.Org

Activist and prison-industrial complex abolitionist Mariame Kaba celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by praising NU Community Not Cops and speaking to the importance of mutual aid and political organizing in Wednesday’s MLK Dream Week virtual keynote.

“Abolitionists have a lot to learn from Dr. King,” Kaba said. “If King were alive today… I have no doubt that what he would be addressing in our current historical moment is the violence and destruction of the prison-industrial complex.”

The prison-industrial complex abolition movement hinges on two key principles, Kaba explained: the belief that police perpetuate — not mitigate — harm and the practice of mutual aid. 

Mutual aid — or the extension of community-based assistance, services, funds and care with no requirements or expectations of the recipients — was a core tenant of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she said. In order to provide boycotters a viable transportation alternative, the community coalesced to create an elaborate rideshare system and provide parking, funds and other forms of support. 

Activist Mariame Kaba talks abolition and mutual aid, condemns campus police in Dream Week keynote by Binah Schatsky, The Daily Northwestern, January 13, 2021

In some ways it is discouraging to think of how little progress has been made for racial and economic justice. And yet, the work of the Kheprw Institute continues in Indianapolis. And for the past year I’ve been learning about and participating in the work of Des Moines Mutual Aid, which is about escaping capitalism and building community.

The following is part of a speech my friend Ronnie James, of Des Moines Mutual Aid, delivered at a teach-in for Des Moines Black Lives Matter.

What we have is each other. We can and need to take care of each other. We may have limited power on the political stage, a stage they built, but we have the power of numbers.

Those numbers represent unlimited amounts of talents and skills each community can utilize to replace the systems that fail us.  The recent past shows us that mutual aid is not only a tool of survival, but also a tool of revolution. The more we take care of each other, the less they can fracture a community with their ways of war. Organized groups like The American Indian Movement and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense showed that we can build not only aggressive security forces for our communities, but they also built many programs that directly responded to the general wellbeing of their communities. This tradition began long before them and continues to this day. Look into the Zapatistas in Southern so-called Mexico for a current and effective example.

These people’s security forces, or the “policing of the police” not only helps to minimize the abuse and trauma they can inflict on us, but it begins to shift the power balance from them to us.

Mutual Aid programs that help our most marginalized or other events that work to maintain our spirits result in stronger communities. A strong community is less vulnerable to police intrusion. 99% of our conflicts can be solved by those affected by them, but only with the support of those around them. Anytime we call on the police to mediate our problems, we are risking ourselves or a loved one from being hurt or worse.

The more we replace the police with organized community response to conflict, the safer we will be.

The police state and why we must resist. Ronnie James

mutual aid is the new economy. mutual aid is community. it is making sure your elderly neighbor down the street has a ride to their doctor’s appointment. mutual aid is making sure the children in your neighborhood have dinner, or a warm coat for the upcoming winter. mutual aid is planting community gardens.

capitalism has violated the communities of marginalized folks. capitalism is about the value of people, property and the people who own property. those who have wealth and property control the decisions that are made. the government comes second to capitalism when it comes to power.

in the name of liberation, capitalism must be reversed and dismantled. meaning that capitalistic practices must be reprogrammed with mutual aid practices.

Des Moines Black Lives Matter

This entry was posted in abolition, Black Lives, capitalism, Des Moines Black Lives Matter, Des Moines Mutual Aid, Kheprw Institute, Martin Luther King Jr, race, Robert F Kennedy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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