Free’s History Of Militancy

Disclaimer: I’m not claiming to be the most “conscious” brotha. I’m not claiming to be some type of revolutionary. I just believe what I believe and I’m down for my folks.

Elementary School
After watching something on TV (I don’t remember what), I randomly decided to sit out the “Pledge of Allegiance” at the beginning of class. Part of it had to do with the fact that I was really learning about America’s treatment towards Blacks and I didn’t want to pledge allegiance to a country that shitted on my folks so rampantly. Secondly, I saw it as a little ridiculous to stand up and talk to a piece of cloth everyday. Surprisingly, my teacher (who knew me very well) did not have a problem with it. All in all, I believe this lasted for about 2 weeks…

Middle School
Round about this time, the movie The Phantom came out. I was at the 7 Eleven at 38th and Chestnut (Philly) and they were handing out free metal Phantom rings. Naturally, I grabbed a handful. I took the rings into school the next day and distributed them among my black hermanos at recess. We dubbed ourselves The Black Phantoms. I guess I started a gang. We never did anything though…

Yes, I was in my school choir. Sue me. I was pretty good too. Anyways, for some ingenious reason, the theme for our recital was The Civil War. The 7th grade choir (my choir) had to be the Confederacy and the 8th graders were the Union. This never sat well with me. One of the songs we had to sing was “Dixie Land”. My mother was appalled. She really drove home the point of what the lines “Oh, I wish I was in the Land of Cotton/Old times there are not forgotten” really meant. I thought about and thought that was pretty horrible and notified the choir director that I would be sitting that song out. She obliged. So when the time came and the choir stood to sing, I remained seated on the rise in the midst of my comrades. I did however sing a solo later. A verse on a son called “Goober Peas”. It was just about eating peanuts, so it’s all good…

High School
There wasn’t any specific memory, but I wrote quite a few papers/rants about race relations. A few times, we had to write blatantly stereotypical pieces where I went hard on white people. They always went over well. I also took every opportunity that I could to do work contrasting Media (where I went to school) and various predominantly black neighborhoods, specifically my hometown of Darby Township. I also ran for class president my sophomore year and won. It was a great victory for the black students (at least I felt that way). Everybody was so happy.

Going to Howard, there were many chances for “activism”. I marched on a few occasions. Once was for the University of Michigan’s affirmative action case on “Black Tuesday” when we marched from campus to Capitol Hill in the middle of the damn night. We were quite the spectacle. A trillion black students marching and chanting in the DC streets. I was hoping that some of the brothers and sisters that watched as we walked by from their doorsteps and windows would’ve come down to join us. There’s too large a divide between Howard’s students and the community. That’s why so much shit jumps off down there. It’s a real “Us vs. Them” type of mentality on both sides. I can’t say that I blame the “locals”. Here we come to THEIR community and we have the nerve to turn our noses up at them, but I digress. The “Black Tuesday” march was more of a social activity than a political demonstration in retrospect. I remember me and friends just playing around remixing 50’s “What Up Gangsta” to suit the occasion: “We don’t play that/We don’t play that/HU/We don’t play around” (genius). Then when we got there, dudes were just looking for a young lady with a blanket to cuddle up with. Yeah, folks slept on the ground. It was too cold to sleep for me. I got a newfound respect for the homeless that night. Anybody who can sleep outdoors in those conditions on a nightly basis (without any blanket no less) is one tough motherfucker.

Another march I went on was the second Million Man March organized by Farrakhan for his “Millions More Movement”. I admit, I was in a little daze (hungover). I couldn’t sleep and I remembered that people were going be gathering on The Yard to march down to the Washington Mall. I just kind of…went. I had no intentions on actually going, but I just started walking and as the hood turned into downtown and downtown into monuments, I just kept on. I didn’t even talk to anybody. I remember seeing Black Panthers and contemplating whether or not I should throw up the fist, but I opted not to. After awhile, I met up with some friends and the day was alright. I saw many speakers and, although it may sound kind of cliché, it was really heartwarming to see the solidarity and love between everybody there. Everybody was all smiles (besides the Panthers and some NOI/FOI brethren).

Another demonstration that sticks out to me is when Laura Bush came to campus to speak about literacy. We were banned from our own campus! We couldn’t even get to class. So, when we actually could get on The Yard, we had a little demonstration. We walked around The Yard arm in arm singing songs and chanting shit. I remember being quite pissed at some young, snobbish looking white guys that were standing on the Blackburn Center balcony pumping their fists and laughing. Quite disrespectful. All in all, it was a very disorganized demonstration. People just walked up and ranted and raved. The best speaker was Dr. Gregory Carr (everybody’s favorite professor). He also advised against being disorganized without any real plan. When he said that, I thought to myself, “That’s real.” He even seemed to be a little pissed with the organizers (I forget who it was exactly. He even relayed news that the Secret Service was reportedly on the way and we should disband because we didn’t have a fucking clue what we were doing (he didn’t use those words). The thing that made me maddest was when someone tried to lead everyone in the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the Black National Anthem). Those posers out there didn’t even know the words. It was embarrassing. How at HOWARD fucking University does NOBODY know the words to LEVAS? When a guy broke out into a random old Negro spiritual, I gave up. What the hell did that have to do with anything? He was clearly just trying to show off his pipes anyway.

I also wrote for The Freedom Papers, a circular set up by some friends. I wrote about President Bush. It felt good to see my name in print and the response wasn’t bad.

And thus wraps up my personal history of militancy…


2 Responses to “Free’s History Of Militancy”

  1. Keep Hope alive my good brother. Fight the good fight and lets change the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Always agreed about the Us vs. Them mentality between HU students and members of the community. Sadly, it’ll never change….

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