Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Taste of Power

Reading Elaine Brown's autobiographical A Taste of Power, and it's a fantastic read.  Learning a lot about some history of the Black Panthers, and of my town, Oakland. It's also a bittersweet reminder of how things have changed, and how they haven't, and of how difficult it is to even conceive of revolutionary change.  In her first speech to party members after taking (really, she did have to take it) control of the party, she maps out what revolutionary change could look like:

"We're going to set a revolution example here.  And the example we lay down in Oakland will be the spark that lights the prairie fire.  We will carry our torch to another city, and then another.  Each time, each place, the people will take their lead from us, the revolutionary vanguard.  Just as the people have demanded and institutionalized our Free Breakfast for Children and sickle-cell-anemia programs, they will demand socialized medicine and decent housing.  Soon they will begin to take control of their local political machinery.  Then they will attack the economic structure in each city.  Bit by bit, city by city, they will whittle away at the capitalist foundation.  Eventually, a time will come--not in our lifetimes, Comrades--but a time will come when the people will understand their power and the pigs' machinery will be unable to accommodate their demands.  That is when the people, black people and poor white people and oppressed people all over America, will rise up like a mighty tide and wash clean this beachfront of capitalism and racism, and make the revolution!"
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