by Brother Salim Adofo
On May 25th, 1963, thirty-one African heads of state met in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The purpose of this historic coalition was to unite African nations, in order to regain political, social and economic control of the African continent from its European colonizers.
At this historic meeting, May 25th was declared African Liberation Day. Currently, it is celebrated the last Saturday in the month of May.
Understanding the importance of being organized, as well as African people in America being connected to Africans on the continent, Malcolm X organized the Organization of Afro American Unity (OAAU) in 1964.
The OAAU was formulated with the same principles in mind for Africans in America: to gain political, social & economic control of Black communities in America. These three principles are the basic tenants of the concept of Black Nationalism & Pan-Africanism.
African Liberation Day celebrations in America began May of 1972, in Washington D.C. Over 50,000 Black people came together to unify around the same principles of Black Nationalism & Pan Africanism that the OAU & Malcolm X espoused. For African Liberation Day and its purpose to continue to be effective it must be connected to the Hip Hop Generation.
Through the medium of Hip Hop and the economic principle of Black Nationalism (Black people creating their own businesses), music artists such as Jay-Z, 50 Cent & Sean “Diddy” Combs have built lucrative music empires. They have also been able to establish themselves in other areas of business such as film, clothing apparel, food & beverage.
During the “Golden Age of Hip Hop” the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, artist such as Queen Latifah, X-Clan, & Gang Starr, incorporated the social aspects of Black Nationalism (Black people using their traditional value system as a standard) into their lyrics and music videos.
This encouraged many young people to reflect African culture in their styles of dress, social settings and various forms of art. Young people were attending lectures by African scholars such as Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan and Dr. John Henrik Clarke, as oppose to “making it rain” or doing the “stank leg”. In recent times, the election of America’s first African in America president Barak Obama, could not have taken place had it not been for the influence of the Hip Hop generation. More people under the age of 40 voted in his election than any other election previously.
With these key elements of engagement, the Hip Hop generation has shown its ability to be an influential force. More importantly when the Hip Hop generation has worked with the Black Nationalist/Pan African Community it has shown that it can be a force that can move Black people, Black youth in particular, forward in a very energetic and productive manner. An example of this was scene at the 1998 Million Youth March in Harlem NY.
At the Million Youth March, over 25,000 young Black people from across the country came together to take a stand against police brutality, call for an end to “Black on Black crime” & become more politically educated.
The march, which was partially financed by one of the most popular Hip Hop stars of the time Master P, included DJ Kool Herc (one of the founding fathers of hip hop), recording artists Dead Prez, and Dr. Khallid Abdul Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party.
When the New York City Police Department (NYPD) chose to disrupt this call for unity, the Hip Hop generation took a position of self-determination, self-respect and self-defense. The Hip Hop generation defend and protected its’ elders & young from the racist attack of the NYPD.
It is this type of courage and political consciousness that the Hip Hop generation is lacking today and the National Black United Front (NBUF) is working diligently to correct this.
On May 22, 2010 the Milwaukee Chapter of the National Black United Front is sponsoring its annual African Liberation Day celebration. This years’ celebration will focus on uniting the Hip Hop generation and the Black Nationalist community.
NBUF has made it a priority to connect with the Hip Hop generation and provide them with the political consciousness necessary to make Hip Hop an instrument of liberation.
Activities for the day include student panel discussion, African Liberation Day youth talent show & African market place. Those residing in the Milwaukee area are encouraged to attend this celebration of family, community, culture and liberation.
Brother Salim Adofo is the Vice Chair for Organizing & Training with the National Black United Front (NBUF)