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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts

Women of the World

Long version: mp3, 4.2 MBs, 5:06
Short version: mp3, 3 MBs, 3:45

[Col. recorded 3/11/03]

Who can think of the world's women, and not marvel? There is no area of human endeavor upon which the mark of woman has not been made, and made well.

Every year, around the time of International Women's Month, advertisements in the newspaper trumpet the accomplishments of women, but usually they shy away from the women who have fought for the revolutionary rights of women and others, or who have fought against the partriarchal status quo. As in Black History Month, those who are celebrated tend to be 'safe' women; those who are acceptable to men because they haven't rocked the boat, or, if they did so, they did so gently.

I will not address such women here; they are represented elsewhere (like in your paper).

Let us think of women who are usually ignored; or who are feared, or who are shunned by the corporate media. Women like those nameless billions who (according to the UN Conference of Women in Copenhagen in 1980) perform between two-thirds and three-quarters of the work in the world (and produce 45% of the world's food!). They labor against great odds, and keep body and soul together for billions of children. They are heroines.

Let us think of women like Tarika Lewis, who was the first woman to join the Black Panther Party as a rank-and-file member, and with her courage and ability, paved the way for thousands of others to follow her path; while her name may not be known nor famous, history should record her proud contribution of resistance to the racist repression of the 1960s and '70s.

Tarika, like millions of other Black women, came from traditions of woman warriors all along the West African coast.

While some have suggested otherwise, the 18th Century ex-slave, sailor and writer, Olaudah Equiano noted clearly, when telling memories of his tribe, wrote: "All are taught the use of these weapons; even our women are warriors, and march boldly out to fight along with the men." [fr. The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (orig., 1789), p. 16]

Equiano recalled seeing a battle while nestled in a tree, his mother in the thick of the battle, armed with a broad sword!

Let us not suggest that brave women warriors were rare or relegated to the dusty pages of dry history books. The name, Fred Hampton, is legendary, yet few remember his young wife, Akua, who lay beside him as he was slaughtered by the State, and now continues as a leader in the struggle. While Fred is remembered, and perhaps Mark Clark, few remember that two Panther women were among the wounded that night: Verlina Brewer and Brenda Harris were each shot twice by the state and federal death squad, and both were seriously wounded, but they survived, and bravely continued the resistance as Panthers.

There has been no true popular struggle in African-American history, American history, or world history, that was not, in part, supported or sustained by women. Women were at the very heart of the Abolition Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Liberation Movement, and the Anti-War Movements. That they are not well-known is due to their being disappeared from the annals of history.

Let us not forget Ruby Robinson (1942-1967) who was a fiery militant activist with SNCC; Claudia Jones (1915-1964) a Trinidadian-born radical journalist and communist who led the Free Mandela campaigns in London; Lolita Lebron, who fought for Puerto Rican independence from the U.S.; Petrona Chacon, who was a leading figure in the 1840 slave revolt in Cuba; Ernestina "Titina" Sila (1943-1973) African revolutionary leader, fought for the PAIGC (African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde); Septima P. Clark (1898-1987), who established 'Freedom Schools' in the apartheid South, worked with the SCLC; Cherry Turner, wife and co-conspirator with the Black rebel, Nat Turner, of the August, 1831 Insurrection that shook the South to its roots; Ella Baker (1903-1986), founded SNCC, organized Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, worked with Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee; affectionately called "Fundi", Swahili for 'teacher';... and these are but a few.

Let us not forget them, and millions like them; mostly unknown, erased from 'official' history; remembered in the realm of the heart for their strength, their courage, their powerful will to be free, which inspires us all... still.


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"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com

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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

 

Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.