Honoring Kwame Ture, Pan-Africanist
Born Stokely Carmichael, the son of Adolphus and Mabel Carmichael, in Port of Spain, Trinidad on 29 June 1941. Kwame moved with his family to New York at an early age. In 1960, while studying at Howard University in Washington, he joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and threw himself into the struggle for desegregation and civil rights.
As a SNCC organiser Kwame participated in sit-ins, freedom rides and voter registration drives in the racist Deep South of the United States. His numerous arrests and battles against the Klu Klux Klan and the FBI-CIA intrigues steeled him in struggle.
Kwame became Chairperson of SNCC in 1966 and he raised and popularised the call for “Black Power!” during the Meredith march in Mississippi that year. In 1967 he became honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party in a move to forge unity between the Panthers and SNCC. Kwame’s call for an African United Front of all (Black) African organisations struggling against racist oppression became his trademark demand and remained so throughout his life.
Kwame’s growing understanding of the nature of US imperialism led him to travel widely in support of the struggles of the peoples of Palestine, Cuba, Vietnam, Ireland, Puerto Rico, North Korea and to forge principled relationships with organisations of the oppressed indigenous people of the Americas.
Under Kwame’s leadership SNCC denounced Zionist aggression against Palestinian and Arab people during the 1967 Israeli war. Kwame also played a leading role in organising mass resistance against US aggression in Vietnam. In 1968 he visited Hanoi and held extended discussions with Vietnam’s heroic leader, Ho Chi Minh. Kwame always called this meeting “one of the greatest honours of his life”.
Kwame Ture was a lifelong support of the Cuban Revolution and travelled many times to Havana in defiance of the unjust US travel embargo. It was his principled support for the revolutionary struggles of oppressed peoples worldwide that earned him the vicious hatred of the FBI-CIA which orchestrated his banning and exclusion from over thirty countries in the world at one point. But Kwame Ture’s courage, sincerity and tireless work in the service of humanity won him the love and admiration of struggle people everywhere.
Following his marriage to exiled South African artist Miriam Makeba and in his search for the correct solution to the oppression of African people in America, Kwame Ture moved to Guinea in 1968. He always referred to this as “the wisest decision I ever made”.
In Conakry he became secretary to President Kwame Nkrumah, overthrown by the CIA coup in Ghana in 1966 and studied under Guinean President Ahmed Sekou Toure. Under the tutelage of these two great Pan-Africanists. Kwame recognised that organisation and constant political education are the key to liberation of African and all oppressed peoples. And this is what Kwame Ture unselfishly committed his lief to doing – everywhere and under any circumstances.
The first study cells of the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) were created by Kwame Nkrumah in Conakry in 1968. In 1969 Kwame Ture under took the assignment to re-visit North America to build the AAPRP under Nkrumah’s organisational direction. In 1980 Kwame Ture, together with sisters in the A-APRP, pioneered the formation of the All-African Women’s Revolutionary Union to ensure that African Women assumed a vanguard role in elimination not just nation (race) – class oppression, but also the added burden of sexism as well.
Kwame Ture was a central committee member of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party and a leading figure in the global Pan-Africanist movement. His political career spanned four decades of struggle – from civil rights/anti-colonial movements to Black Power agitation to the present era of building mass, revolutionary Pan-Africanist parties.
Brother Kwame’s transition occurred peacefully on Sunday 15 November 1998 after a long battle with cancer. He died in Conakry, Guinea – his home for the final 30 years of his life.
Kwame Ture made immense contributions to the struggles of African people worldwide. He was a tireless and humble organiser in the service of the African Revolution. His life and work will continue to inspire all those who seek the ultimate solution to the long centuries of oppression and exploitation of Africans world-wide; this solution is Pan-Africanism the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism.