The New York Times’ dismissive, error-strewn obituary of Una G. Mulzac, the late proprietor of Harlem’s now-closed Liberation Books, cast her as a cantankerous crank-pot holding anachronistic political beliefs. Yet for many people, folk like Mulzac were historians, vernacular archivists, and living repositories of pan-African memory. Places like Liberation Books – alongside San Francisco’sendangered Marcus Books, Toronto’s long-shuttered Third World Books & Crafts, and a host of other stores – doubled as public libraries, informalclassrooms, and sites of pilgrimage. The daughter of Hugh Mulzac, author of A Star to Steer By and a shipmate on Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line, Mulzac was an activist in her own right and through Liberation Books, she staked a claim for bookselling as a political act. Unfortunately, it’s a claim that is losing ground as fast as independent Black bookstores have been closing. While the era of Amazonand AbeBooks has provided us with greater access to Black literature than at any time in history, one-click purchases and algorithmically-determined recommendations can never replace the intimate and independent Black public spheres created by booksellers like Mulzac and bookstores like Liberation Books. No wonder the Times’ contempt.
The Partido Independiente de Color (PIC) was a Cuban political party founded in 1908 and composed mainly of Cubans of African descent, some of them former slaves, who had fought in Cuba’s independence struggles of the late nineteenth century and who continued to advocate for the rights of the island’s Black population after independence. In 1912, the PIC led a protest in the island’s Oriente Province which was violently crushed by the country’s government forces with the aid of US military troops. The violence led to the deaths of thousands of Black Cubans. The party, which had already been banned by a law prohibiting race-based political organizations, did not survive the government’s repression. Two of its most prominent leaders, Evaristo Estenoz and Pedro Ivonnet, were later executed and their dead bodies displayed to the public.
Felix of the Silent Forest (1967) by David Henderson
‘If They Come In The Morning’, Angela Davis and Other Political Prisoners, Forward by Julian Bond, Signet Books, United States, 1971. Includes writings by Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Erika Huggins, Ruchell Magee, George Jackson and others.
The African Blood Brotherhood was a short-lived but highly influential Black Liberation organization in the US, formed during the infamous “red summer” of 1919. That year saw murderous pogroms against African-Americans from Chicago to St. Louis, yet it also was a year of rising militant resistance to racist oppression. The African Blood Brotherhood was formed in part to organize physical resistance to pogroms, but also to organize for socialist revolution against white supremacy. Many members of the African Blood Brotherhood eventually joined the nascent Communist Party and helped to shape their policy on Black Liberation through the 1920’s and 30’s. Notable African Blood Brotherhood comrades included queer communist poet Claude McKay, whose 1919 poem “If We Must Die” epitomized the African Blood Brotherhood’s spirit of militant struggle.
Angela Davis wanted in 1970
Let us not act surprised. Before there was an al Qaeda or a Hezbollah and other similar organizations, our “radical” organizations were deemed terrorist and subversive. I mean black panthers, black liberation army, rainbow coalition, Nation of Islam. We could go on and on. Just look up all of the people and Organizations targeted by the FBI. We’ve been terrorized by the government. But what was a terrorist to the US government before is not the same now. This is a way to now include other suspected criminals for targeted assassinations as they do now with drones. They said Assata is still dangerous. Yeah ok. Cats look at lupe as if he was crazy for calling America terrorists. I am her comrade! Damn I need a woman like her yo