Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rebellion, Revolution and the Future of Detroit

By Jim Tarbell

Detroit’s strong proud and resilient black political movement has played a huge part in the US Social Forum (USSF). Wednesday’s plenary featured a review of the 1967 Rebellion with Detroit Black Panther co-founder Ron Scott and UAW activist General Baker. General Baker declared the “1967 rebellion a defining moment in Detroit’s history . . . That taught us that the only value of the black man to white society was at the point of production and that’s why we started organizing in the factories.” Ron Scott added that they became revolutionaries in the 1960s when they realized . “ that we did not have control over our lives . . . as a result the Black Panther Party was primarily attacked because we were talking about building an independent community response to the oppression that existed.”

To get a real experience of these lives, the USSF offered daily tours that included Detroit Social History, Cultural Immersion, Environmental Justice and a look at Detroit’s abolitionist and underground railroad history. For those who want to engage directly there are daily actions: to stop electrical shutoffs; an anniversary march of Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream speech; a solidarity rally for aggrieved restaurant workers and an action for “Clean Air Good Jobs and Justice for All” at the Detroit Incinerator.

On the final day, there almost thirty forums discussed Detroit and the Rust belt. The League of Revolutionary Black Workers hosted one on the History of Labor in Detroit. Besides General Baker, it included testimonials from a historic gathering of men and women that participated in all aspects of the Detroit labor and social movements of the past sixty years. Former US Congressman John Lewis was there as well as Detroit legend Waistline, author of Detroit: A History of Sruggle, A Vision of the Future. They outlined their successful struggle for economic security and then reflected how the times had changed, that we are all now part of the disposessd class; that we are not needed in the labor force. They declared that now is the time to confront this new future and take back our lives and government from corporate domination.

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