At McKinney rally in New York
Anti-war & Black activists unite against Libya war
Published Aug 3, 2011 8:21 PM
The destructive bombing attacks on Libya by the Pentagon and NATO are highly
unpopular in the United States, although you wouldn’t know it from
corporate media coverage.
Proof of this could be seen in a 15-city speaking tour, sponsored by the
International Action Center, in which former Congressperson Cynthia McKinney is
reporting on her June fact-finding trip to Libya with the Dignity delegation.
McKinney has attracted large audiences in cities across the country.
New York on July 30 was no exception. McKinney spoke to a standing-room crowd
here at historic Riverside Church in a room that seated more than 400.
The meeting was well attended by activists from various anti-war organizations.
It also attracted an equal number of community organizers and leaders from
When she was in Congress, McKinney represented a largely African-American
district in Georgia. She and other speakers characterized the attack on Libya
as a “racist war” that is part of an imperialist strategy to
In her talk, McKinney put the war against Libya in the context of the
continuing brutality in the U.S. against people of color, despite the election
of a Black president. She called out the names of half a dozen innocent young
Black men who have recently been gunned down by police, from San Francisco to
Sharing the podium with McKinney were prominent fighters for justice in the New
York metropolitan area, including Larry Hamm of the People’s Organization
for Progress in Newark, N.J. Two days earlier, McKinney had spoken to another
standing-room-only meeting in Newark organized by POP. Later, the Newark City
Council gave McKinney an award for telling truth to power.
Minister Akbar Muhammed, International Representative of the Nation of Islam,
who visited Libya with the Dignity delegation, stressed at the New York meeting
the importance of the developing alliance among African-American forces, the
anti-imperialist left and Muslims in opposing U.S. aggression in Africa and the
The coalition of forces sponsoring the New York meeting and others showed that
the active anti-war movement, especially those groups affiliated with the
United National Antiwar Coalition and the Answer Coalition, had recognized the
imperialist, predatory character of a war that the Obama administration claimed
was to “protect civilians.”
Large crowds in Atlanta, other cities
A week earlier, McKinney had spoken before another large crowd in Atlanta in
her home state. There, too, turnout was massive from the Black community, whose
youth are constantly besieged by recruiters for the armed forces — often
seen as the only alternative to nonexistent jobs and education for those in the
U.S. who suffer racist oppression.
Ramsey Clark and Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center who spoke
at both these meetings, stressed the responsibility of anti-war forces in the
United States to stand up against the Pentagon and the
corporate-military-industrial complex, especially at a time when the public
treasury is being looted to pay for ever more frequent and costly aggression
against poor countries.
Khalifa Elderbak, a young Libyan studying in the U.S., told the New York
audience he was astounded by the media lies about what was happening in his
country. He described how, seeing on the news that his home town had been
bombed by the Gadhafi government of Libya, he called dozens of relatives and
friends back home, only to be told that the story was totally false.
The New York program also featured speakers who raised issues of unemployment,
hunger and homelessness, which are endemic in communities of color. High school
student Dinae Anderson spoke eloquently about the hunger already gripping poor
areas. She informed about a campaign in New York to restore and expand food
stamps under the slogan “Feed the hungry, not the Pentagon.”
Johnnie Stevens, speaking for Workers World Party, got a warm response as he
urged participation in an Aug. 13 protest in Harlem against imperialist
intervention in Africa. He then recapitulated decades of deadly U.S.
imperialist intervention in Africa, from the assassination of Congo’s
independence leader, Patrice Lumumba, to today’s build-up of U.S. forces
on the continent. He compared the “rebels” in Libya to the
“rebels” in the U.S. Civil War who tried to perpetuate the
enslavement of African people.
Glen Ford, of the Black Is Back Coalition, analyzed the role of President
Barack Obama in carrying out the program of the financiers and warmongers. He
reminded the audience that Obama, even while campaigning on the slogan of
change, had said two weeks before his election that he would be a compromiser,
and he certainly has kept that promise.
Teresa Gutierrez of the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights, Rocio
Silverio of the IAC and Professor Asha Samad co-chaired the rally, which opened
with a welcome from the Rev. Robert B. Coleman of the Riverside Church Prison
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