30 September 2010

Govan Mbeki

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 5a

Govan Mbeki, 1910 - 2001

The main item today is Chapter 7, “The New Offensive: The ANC after 1949”, from “The Struggle for Liberation in South Africa” by Govan Mbeki, published in 1992 (download linked below).

Right at the beginning of this chapter Mbeki recalls the joint ANC/CPSA protest against the Suppression of Communism Act on 1 May 1950 and the subsequent massacre of 18 people on that day by the National Party regime that had come to power in 1948. Consequent to this, 26 June 1950 was observed with a stay-away as Freedom Day. This Freedom Day was observed again when the Defiance of Unjust Laws campaign was launched in 1952 and again in 1955 when the Freedom Charter was adopted on that date at the Congress of the People in Kliptown.

This is something to remember in what is now called “Heritage Month”. 26 June - our original Freedom Day, having to do with protests against the banning of the Communist Party - is not a Public Holiday in South Africa. 24 September was only made a public “Heritage Day” holiday at the insistence of the Inkatha Freedom Party (see here).

Govan Mbeki concludes this chapter with a very good section on the “Africanists”, in terms of events in which he himself, as he records, was involved in a major capacity. The first occasion was when the Africanists tried to hi-jack the ANC leadership from the Treason Trialists, taking advantage of the fact that they were locked up.

"Black exclusivism," says Mbeki, “presents a misguided solution”.

“What has characterised all groups that claimed to be opposed to government policies - groups that either broke away from the ANC like the PAC, or others like the Liberal Party, Unity Movement (NEUM), Inkatha and Black Consciousness Movement - has been that instead of opposing the government directly, they have mounted campaigns aimed at thwarting those initiated by the ANC,” writes Mbeki, and proceeds to tell the whole Sharpeville story, when 69 people were shot, fifty years ago, on 21 March 1960, and relates the immediate aftermath.

“At a meeting of the joint executives of the Congress Alliance in June 1961, the situation was reviewed and a decision was taken that in all future stay-at-homes, the possibility of the use of force could not be excluded,” writes Mbeki

To read Govan Mbeki’s book on-line, click here.

The question of armed struggle was settled by the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe on 16 December of that year, 1961.  In tomorrow’s item we will see how O R Tambo, as the President-General of the ANC, reflected upon all this heritage in 1969, which had also seen the adoption of the “Strategy and Tactics” document at the ANC’s Morogoro Conference.

Please download and read this text via the following link:

Further reading:

29 September 2010

Moses Kotane

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 5

Moses Kotane, 1905 - 1978

The African National Congress of South Africa is sometimes called “Africa’s Oldest Liberation movement”. This series will not attempt a comprehensive sampling of the abundant South African Revolutionary writing. So we will look at four for the time being, starting with Moses Kotane and going on to Govan Mbeki, Oliver Tambo and “Comrade Mzala” (Jabulani Nxumalo). The first is a letter, the next is a book chapter, the third a radio broadcast script, or transcript, and the fourth an article for the ANC publication “Sechaba”.

It is a mistake to think that Kotane’s famous “Cradock Letter” (download linked below) was the origin of the Africanisation of the Communist Party of South Africa. The well-known Black Republic thesis, imposed on the South African Party by the Comintern, was far earlier (1927-1928). From soon after its founding in 1921 the CPSA had been a majority-black Party, though this was not always reflected in the top leadership in the beginning.

But Kotane’s plain and direct 1934 letter perhaps marks the real turning point. Kotane became General Secretary of the Party in 1939, and then of the SACP, until his death in 1979, and also Treasure-General of the ANC for several years. Kotane worked hard to make the Alliance between the Party and the ANC a solid and permanent one.

Here is Kotane’s even shorter summary of his short letter from Cradock:

“My first suggestion is that the Party become more Africanised or Afrikanised, that the CPSA must pay special attention to S Africa, study the conditions in this country and concretise the demands of the toiling masses from first hand information, that we must speak the language of the Native masses and must know their demands. That while it must not lose its international allegiance, the Party must be Bolshevised, become South African not only theoretically, but in reality, it should be a Party working in the interests and for the toiling people in S Africa and not a party of a group of Europeans who are merely interested in European affairs.”

The book from which this text was taken (the 1981 collection of documents called “South African Communists Speak”) gives the following note below the “Cradock Letter”:

“The Independent African National Congress (Cape) had been formed in 1931 by Elliot Tonjeni and other left-wing members who had been driven out of the Cape ANC by the dictatorial action of the chairman ‘Professor' Thaele. Tonjeni had been banished to the Eastern Cape by Justice Minister Pirow, and the Independent ANC drew most of its support from country branches in the region.”

Taken all together, the four pieces of writing in this part should provide a good outline of South African revolutionary history, and a good sampling of the South African revolutionary writing style.

Please download and read the entire text via this link:

Further reading:

22 September 2010

Amilcar Cabral

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 4

Amilcar Cabral, 1924 - 1973

We are not meeting this week, because of the Public Holiday on Friday, immediately after our meeting day. When that happens, we don’t meet; but in this case, we will post the week’s text anyway.

Very appropriately, the holiday is Heritage Day. The text for this week (download linked below) is Amilcar Cabral’s speech on National Liberation and Culture. This speech was originally delivered on February 20, 1970; as part of the Eduardo Mondlane Memorial Lecture Series at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York; that is more than forty years ago. Yet it is as fresh and relevant as if it had been written yesterday, based on appraisal of our present circumstances.

Foreign domination “can be maintained only by the permanent, organized repression of the cultural life of the people concerned,” wrote Cabral. Attempted assimilation is “a more or less violent attempt to deny the culture of the people in question.” It does not work. In fact there are no ways in which the coloniser can succeed.

“…it is generally within the culture that we find the seed of opposition, which leads to the structuring and development of the liberation movement,” says Cabral.

“…national liberation takes place when, and only when, national productive forces are completely free of all kinds of foreign domination. The liberation of productive forces and consequently the ability to determine the mode of production most appropriate to the evolution of the liberated people necessarily opens up new prospects for the cultural development of the society in question, by returning to that society all its capacity to create progress,” says Cabral.

Cabral develops the idea that “…we must take into account the fact that, faced with the prospect of political independence, the ambition and opportunism from which the liberation movement generally suffers may bring into the struggle unconverted individuals. The latter, on the basis of their level of schooling, their scientific or technical knowledge, but without losing any of their social class biases, may attain the highest positions in the liberation movement.”

Cabral concludes “…the liberation struggle is, above all, a struggle both for the preservation and survival of the cultural values of the people and for the harmonization and development of these values within a national framework.”

So, on Heritage Day, we have to conclude that the struggle continues, or in Portuguese: A luta continua!

African Revolutionary Writers’ Series
In this fourth part of our series, which is concerned with the several rebellions against the Lusophone colonists, we would aim to have text from Eduardo Mondlane, Agostinho Neto and Samora Machel at the very least. So far, we have not located any electronic reproductions of original texts of these revolutionaries on the Internet. Nor has anyone sent in any such soft-copies of original texts. 

We have time. The next time we will be running this course, if we stick to our draft schedule, will be in the first half of 2011. All original African Revolutionary Writers’ texts will be welcome. Please send any that you may have, of these or of other authors.

Please download and read the entire text via this link:

17 September 2010

Frantz Fanon

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 3a`

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon, 1925 - 1961

The extraordinary co-incidence of dates between Frantz Fanon and Patrice Lumumba, both born in 1925 and both deceased in 1961, highlights the precociousness of Fanon’s critique of the post-colonial regimes which had so recently, from his standpoint, come into existence. Please download the essay “Pitfalls of National Consciousness” via the link given below.

This essay was published in the book “The Wretched of the Earth’ in French in 1961 and in English translation in 1963. The title of the book is a direct quotation from the song, the “Internationale”, written by Eugene Pottier during the Paris Commune of 1871, the lyrics of which in the original French begin: “Debout, Les Damnés de la Terre!”. Les Damnés de la Terre was the title of Fanon’s book and it is translated as “The Wretched of the Earth”.

Fanon is so intelligent and so witty that it is easy to be so charmed by him that critical faculties are put aside. So much of what he wrote nearly fifty years ago has come to pass not once, but repeatedly, and not in one, but in many countries, that one has to be astonished.

It is also remarkable that no other writer on this topic has come close to the range and the brilliance that Fanon exhibits with such apparent ease in this essay. To find literary comparisons one has to go far back, to the likes of Voltaire and Jonathan Swift.

Fanon is particularly brilliant here in his denunciation of the national bourgeoisie in the circumstances of the newly independent country.

Is Fanon right? In South Africa, we certainly have problems of “tenderpreneurs”, “narrow BEE”, corruption and many other manifestations of the premature degeneration of the bourgeoisie, similar to Fanon’s descriptions.

But we in South Africa also have a firm theory and practice of National Democratic Revolution involving Unity in Action between classes, especially between the working class and the national bourgeoisie. We have found this class alliance to be indispensible.

This document is a great classic and is typical of the best of African Revolutionary Writing. But it is not a Bible.

Please download and read the entire text via this link:

Further reading:

Patrice Lumumba

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 3

Patrice Lumumba, 1960

Patrice Lumumba, 1925 - 1961

This third part of our African Revolutionary Writers’ Series is dedicated to the “Uhuru Years” that followed the 1960 “Year of Africa”, when sixteen countries seized their independence, one of which was Congo, now DRC. In this part we feature Patrice Lumumba’s short, powerful Congo Independence Day speech of 30 June 1960 (download linked below).

In the Western Imperialist literature the independence of all of these countries has been recorded as a “granting” (for example: “Congo was granted independence by Belgium”). This contradictory view of what really happened during the greatest change in the 20th Century - the National Democratic Revolutions in the former colonial countries - mirrors the theme of Frederick Douglass’s most famous speech, (“If there is no Struggle, there is no Progress”) where Douglass says that “power concedes nothing without a demand”. It is the revolutionary subject that is the most necessary historical ingredient.

Lumumba’s speech is still famous for making the same point, and particularly because he made the speech in the presence of the monarch of the colonial power, King Baudouin of Belgium (grandson of the original colonist King Leopold) who had already spoken in a paternalistic and euphemistic manner at an earlier stage during the same proceedings.

Lumumba at once spoke of struggle, and of victory, and he spoke frankly of the vicious colonialism which had been overcome by that struggle.

Congo at that time was on a par with South Africa as a wealthy, quickly-modernising African country. The subsequent history of the Congo has been a tragedy of neo-colonialism including the martyrdom of Patrice Lumumba in the following year, 1961, and the imposition of the corrupt stooge dictator Mobutu who ruled until the 1990s.

It is absurd to suggest, as some Imperialist writers continue to do, that the neo-colonial reaction was Lumumba’s fault for being cheeky in front of the Belgian king. No-one must be allowed to forget that these words of Lumumba’s expressed the historical truth, as well as the feelings of millions of Africans at the time, and that these words needed to be said and had to be said, so that they can now be remembered and glorified again in the 21st Century while Africa gains its “second independence” born out of the struggle against neo-colonialism and Imperialism.

Update on the African Revolutionary Writers’ Series

In the second part, we did not succeed on this occasion to secure suitable material by Paul Robeson and W E B Du Bois. What we need for that purpose is post-WW2 material, from the time of the Robeson’s Council on African Affairs, that shows the articulation in literature of anti-Imperialism at that crucial time, by these authors.

In this third part, we would still wish to include material from Oginga Odinga’s “Not Yet Uhuru” (a book that was “ghosted” by South Africa’s Ruth First), and the full text of Malcolm X’s “By Any Means Necessary” speech. For next week’s “Lusophone” part, we have yet to find suitable revolutionary texts from Eduardo Mondlane, Agostinho Neto or Samora Machel.

Even if we have to move on, without getting all these documents in time to use on this occasion, we should still continue to try to secure them and other relevant documents. Like the other twelve Communist University courses, this one will be run again each year on one or other of the three CU channels, which are Communist University, CU Africa, and SADTU Political Education Forum.

In the case of this African Revolutionary Writers Series, the next iteration of its ten parts will probably be early in the New Year, 2011, on the SADTU Forum.

Please download and read the entire text via this link:

Further reading:

11 September 2010

Albert Lutuli

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 2a

Albert Lutuli, 1898 - 1967

Chief Albert Lutuli was President-General of the African National Congress from 1952 until his death in 1967. In 1960, the year of the Sharpeville massacre, Lutuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Our sample of his work is his Peace Prize lecture, delivered in Stockholm, Sweden (download linked below).

This speech fits in well with the theme of the second part of our course, highlighting the first batch of victories of the African independence struggles in the period immediately following the Anti-Fascist World War of 1939-45. In the same year of 1960 alone, 16 African countries achieved independence, so that 1960 is sometimes called the “Year of Africa”.

In future iterations of this course we would hope to have material from Paul Robeson and W E B Du Bois in this part, helping us to recall the worldwide uprising of internationalist political will for the end of direct colonialism, which was a consequence of the World War.

Lutuli’s speech shows his consciousness of this internationalism, of which the awarding of his Peace Prize was one expression. His speech accepting it is not a pacifist speech. It does not condemn armed struggle, but justifies it. Here are some relevant paragraphs from the speech:

“This award could not be for me alone, nor for just South Africa, but for Africa as a whole. Africa presently is most deeply torn with strife and most bitterly stricken with racial conflict. How strange then it is that a man of Africa should be here to receive an award given for service to the cause of peace and brotherhood between men. There has been little peace in Africa in our time. From the northernmost end of our continent, where war has raged for seven years, to the centre and to the south there are battles being fought out, some with arms, some without. In my own country, in the year 1960, for which this award is given, there was a state of emergency for many months. At Sharpeville, a small village, in a single afternoon sixty-nine people were shot dead and 180 wounded by small arms fire; and in parts like the Transkei, a state of emergency is still continuing. Ours is a continent in revolution against oppression. And peace and revolution make uneasy bedfellows. There can be no peace until the forces of oppression are overthrown.

“Our continent has been carved up by the great powers; alien governments have been forced upon the African people by military conquest and by economic domination; strivings for nationhood and national dignity have been beaten down by force; traditional economics and ancient customs have been disrupted, and human skills and energy have been harnessed for the advantage of our conquerors. In these times there has been no peace; there could be no brotherhood between men.

“But now, the revolutionary stirrings of our continent are setting the past aside. Our people everywhere from north to south of the continent are reclaiming their land, their right to participate in government, their dignity as men, their nationhood. Thus, in the turmoil of revolution, the basis for peace and brotherhood in Africa is being restored by the resurrection of national sovereignty and independence, of equality and the dignity of man.

“It should not be difficult for you here in Europe to appreciate this. Your continent passed through a longer series of revolutionary upheavals, in which your age of feudal backwardness gave way to the new age of industrialization, true nationhood, democracy, and rising living standards - the golden age for which men have striven for generations. Your age of revolution, stretching across all the years from the eighteenth century to our own, encompassed some of the bloodiest civil wars in all history. By comparison, the African revolution has swept across three quarters of the continent in less than a decade; its final completion is within sight of our own generation…

“Perhaps, by your standards, our surge to revolutionary reforms is late. If it is so - if we are late in joining the modern age of social enlightenment, late in gaining self-rule, independence, and democracy, it is because in the past the pace has not been set by us. Europe set the pattern for the nineteenth and twentieth-century development of Africa. Only now is our continent coming into its own and recapturing its own fate from foreign rule.

“Though I speak of Africa as a single entity, it is divided in many ways by race, language, history, and custom; by political, economic, and ethnic frontiers. But in truth, despite these multiple divisions, Africa has a single common purpose and a single goal - the achievement of its own independence. All Africa, both lands which have won their political victories but have still to overcome the legacy of economic backwardness, and lands like my own whose political battles have still to be waged to their conclusion - all Africa has this single aim: our goal is a united Africa in which the standards of life and liberty are constantly expanding; in which the ancient legacy of illiteracy and disease is swept aside; in which the dignity of man is rescued from beneath the heels of colonialism which have trampled it. This goal, pursued by millions of our people with revolutionary zeal, by means of books, representations, demonstrations, and in some places armed force provoked by the adamancy of white rule, carries the only real promise of peace in Africa. Whatever means have been used, the efforts have gone to end alien rule and race oppression.”

Please download and read the entire text via this link:

Further reading:

10 September 2010

George Padmore

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 2

George Padmore, 1903 - 1959

George Padmore was born in Trinidad, in the West Indies. After studying in the USA he spent four or five years, from 1929, based in the Soviet Union, heading the Negro Bureau of the Communist International of Labour Unions (Profintern, or RILU). This organisation held a First International Conference of Negro Workers in Hamburg, Germany on July 7-8, 1930. South Africans W Thibedi and Moses Kotane were elected to the Executive Committee of the organisation at this conference.

In London from 1934, Padmore teamed up with his contemporary and fellow-Trinidadian C L R James, forming the International African Services Bureau.

Padmore organised the 5th Pan-African Congress, in Manchester, England, in 1945. This famous Congress was also attended by Kwame Nkrumah, W E B Du Bois, and Jomo Kenyatta, among others, including a young Norman Atkinson, who later became a Labour member of the British Parliament.

After Ghanaian independence in 1957, Padmore moved there to serve under Nkrumah, but died in 1959.

There is a web site dedicated to Padmore, here, and there is a section within the Marxists Internet Archive for Padmore, here.

Apart from the texts that we have of Padmore’s - see the download linked below - for the purposes of this course Padmore’s story can serve to show that the many National Democratic Revolutions that subsequently took place in Africa had common, inter-twining roots, and those roots were not far from the Great October Revolution in Russia in 1917, the founding of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1919 and the founding of the Communist Party of South Africa in 1921.

As usual, the best remedy for the varying and contradictory interpretations that can be found of the life of a revolutionary like Padmore is to read the person’s own work. The downloadable selection given here contains work written in Padmore’s Profintern days, and also during the Anti-Fascist War when he was in Britain, anticipating the “dollar imperialism” that would follow that conflict.

Padmore brings us from the time of Sol Plaatje through the 1920s and 1930s to the war years and into the great post-war season of national liberation of colonies all over the world, beginning with China and India, but also including Egypt’s disentanglement from it’s own monarchy and from the influence of the British Empire. To gauge something of the character of Egypt’s great anti-Imperialist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, one can read Nasser’s Memoirs of the First Palestine War (838 KB PDF download).

To complete this part, in due course, the CU will try to find suitable examples of Paul Robeson’s and W E B Du Bois’ post-war political writings, which we believe will help us considerably to understand the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist feeling that coincided with Ethiopia’s Libya’s, Sudan’s and Ghana’s independence in the 1950s and that of many more African countries from 1960 onwards.

But for now, our purposes will have to be served by the works of Padmore, and in the next post, Chief Albert Luthuli, late former President of the African National Congress of South Africa.

Please download and read this text:

Further reading:

8 September 2010

Sol Plaatje

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 1b

Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje

1876 - 1932

We will meet tomorrow (Thursday 9 September 2010) at 17h00 at the UJ Library, Doornfontein Campus, Johannesburg. Hard copies of Cabral’s “Weapon of Theory” will be available.

Sol Plaatje was the first Secretary-General of the African National Congress. He was a journalist and a novelist, among other things.

Linked below is one of the Chapters of Plaatje’s “Native Life in South Africa” (1916). The full work can be found here.

In the preparation of this item, the CU went to the ANC web site, only to find that most of the archives appear to have been removed. There is nothing there on Sol Plaatje.

Sol Plaetje also wrote the epic novel “Mhudi”, published in 1913. It does not appear to be on the Internet, but it does appear to be available in hard copy still.

Image: Sol Plaatje

Please download and read this text:

Further reading:

7 September 2010

Toussaint L’Ouverture

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 1a

Toussaint L’Ouverture

1743 - 1803

Toussaint L’Ouverture – Toussaint the Opening – was the leader, both military and civilian, of the slave revolt in the French West Indian colony of “Saint Domingue”, which is now the Republic of Haiti.

Toussaint brought his country to the brink of independence. The constitution of which he was the author (download linked below), though not the constitution of an independent republic, was enough to lead to his capture, transportation to France, and death in captivity two years after its publication.

Toussaint’s successor, Dessalines, did achieve independence, though on harsh terms that crippled the country with “reparations” to the French Republic, one of the great scandals of history.

C L R James wrote a famous work about the Haitian revolution, calling the book “The Black Jacobins”. The title was a reference to the bourgeois take-over of the Great French Revolution that had taken place a few years before, the “Terror” under Robespierre, and the eventual bourgeois dictatorship that was the consequence of the revolution.

In other words the freed slaves became subordinated to a dictatorship of “their own” black bourgeoisie, of which Toussaint was one of the first. This was hardly surprising, and practically inevitable. The first dictatorship of the proletariat (The Paris Commune) was not seen until seventy years later, in 1871.

Even if a “Jacobin”, Toussaint was still an “Opening” in history – one of the great ones.

Please download and read this text:

Further reading:

6 September 2010

Frederick Douglass

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 1

Frederick Douglass

1818 - 1895

The first part of this ten-part series covers the period from slavery to Imperialism. The slave trade begun with the first Portuguese ships that passed Cape Bojador on the coast of Western Sahara in 1434, bringing them South of the Sahara for the first time. These first slaves of the bourgeoisie were sold to Spanish colonists on the Canary Islands, where the original inhabitants had already been enslaved and then worked to extinction. The slave-trade triangle Portugal - Africa - Canary Islands - was soon repeated on an Atlantic scale as Britain - Africa - West Indies (or alternatively Brazil or North America).

Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic to the West Indies in 1492 and touched the continent of South America in 1498, the same year that Vasco da Gama reached India. By 1502 the trans-Atlantic slave trade was in full flow, initially as a Portuguese monopoly, and later as a British monopoly.

Although as Marx notes in “Capital”, capitalism began in the 1500s, yet for more than three centuries the biggest business of the Western European bourgeoisie was not capitalism but the Atlantic slave trade, and the biggest operator in that business was Britain. This situation lasted until the capitalist “Industrial Revolution” of the late 1700s, also in Britain.

Only when the Western bourgeoisie made its turn towards capitalism did it become expedient for it to avail some blacks, former slaves, to create a literary genre called the “slave narrative”. An early example of this genre is Olaudah Equiano, who wrote a book about his “Interesting Life” as a slave and rescued slave, published in 1789.

These slave-narrative books tended not only to denounce slavery, but also to praise Christianity and capitalism in equal measure, so as to flatter their sponsors and readers. They did not always denounce the system as a whole. Frederick Douglass was an exception for his breadth and his fearlessness.

After escaping by train from twenty years of slavery Douglass wrote an outstanding slave narrative called My Bondage and My Freedom, published in 1855. He also included in the book a series of six transcripts of speeches or orations that he had given as a campaigner against slavery. Slavery was abolished in the USA in 1865 at the end of the US Civil War, ten years after the publication of Frederick Douglass’s book.

All of Douglass’s six lectures are contained in the linked document. “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” is a famous one, but they are all extraordinary and exemplary. This was an orator!

The American Civil War of 1861-1865 was an armed conflict between one part of the bourgeoisie and another. It represented the real capitalist revolution in the USA, when the specifically capitalist bourgeoisie gained its dictatorship, the dictatorship that we have today.

For the Africans, the abolition of slavery was a relief after three centuries of terrible mass-scale atrocity. But the abolition of outright slavery also marked the beginning of wage slavery and of military invasions, conquest, domination, plunder, settlement, and colonialism, all followed in the second half of the 20th century by globalist neo-colonialism and Imperialism.

African political writing tracked all these changes. In this part we look briefly at the literature of slavery and colonialism. In the next we will move to the literature of the post-WW2 era of decolonisation.

To conclude, here is a passage from “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?”

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are to-day rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is AMERICAN SLAVERY. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July.

Please download and read this text:

Further reading: