A Kind of Radical Leaning

A few excerpts from Angela Flournoy’s interview with community organizer, scholar and mother-of-three Melina Abdullah in last weekend’s LA Times. The entire interview is well worth the read!

When we think about the Black Radical Tradition, we traditionally go back to the ’60s. But I think that we actually want to go back further — we want to go back to the moment that we were stolen from Africa. If we think about the freedom struggle from chattel slavery, Mama Harriet [Tubman] wasn’t saying, “Just end slavery,” she was saying, “Let’s get to freedom.” That’s the Black Radical Tradition, not just freeing ourselves from conditions but freeing ourselves from an entire system that’s built on our exploitation and our un-freedom. When you talk about the anti-lynching movement, Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell, they were intent not just on ending lynching but also building a world where Black people could grow and prosper. The Black Radical Tradition is abolitionist. It’s about upending unjust systems. But also, there’s another side. Angela Davis reminds us you have to upend unjust systems and you have to envision and build towards new ones. You have to have the vision to build towards a new world.

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