Haki Kweli Shakur – National Spokesperson of the August Third Collective: New Afrikan Independence Movement – provides the following response about Black Nationalism in Virginia
The Virginia Worker: Could you tell us more about the August Third Collective? When was it formed and what is the collective’s political program?
HKS: The August Third Collective was founded as a prison chapter behind the walls of the gulag Pelican Bay SHU (security housing unit) by my Comrad/Mentor Sanyika Shakur who passed away in 2021 with other New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalists at the time in the late 80’s early 90’s.
August Third Collective as an organization outside the walls would form much later during the 2000’s. Our political line & program is New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism. We believe in land, independence, and scientific socialism. One of our ideological fathers is James Yaki Sayles aka Atiba Shanna.
VW: How does August Third Collective relate to other Black/New Afrikan nationalist groups?
HKS: We relate to other New Afrikan/Black nationalist groups that are directly within The New Afrikan Independence Movement with common goals, political aspirations, and for the liberation of our not yet free nation – The People’s Republic of New Afrika.
Those organizations and groups know who they are. There are some groups who carry the New Afrikan title in their name and are not a part of the New Afrikan Independence Movement and are not nationalists who need to re-evaluate removing “New Afrikan” from their organization name.
VW: Where do you see the Black/New Afrikan independence movement today?
HKS: I see the New Afrikan Independence Movement today still struggling, organizing, educating, agitating, and working from the grassroots across the empire of the US in Black communities creating liberated zones and spaces to build upon and establish what a New Afrikan nation would be like despite years of repression on some of our elders and comrades – some of those who remain captured behind enemy lines as New Afrikan political prisoners & prisoners of war.
Some of our strongest comrades, workers, revolutionaries, cadres, etc are in the prisons doing significant work and keeping our politics in command and order. Free all our political prisoners of NAIM.
VW: Other New Afrikan groups have embraced Huey Newton’s “intercommunalism” theory, do you think that is compatible with Black/New Afrikan nationalist politics?
HKS: Generally speaking those groups who have embraced Huey Newton’s Intercommunalism aren’t New Afrikan nationalist and most aren’t New Afrikans.
The intercommunalism theory is cool, but full of contradictions. At the same time some of it is useful to those who see it valuable for their organizing in the New Afrikan community.
I will state this when one is saying we’re internationalist we’re also saying we’re Pan-Afrikan. Pan Afrikan is the alliance that Huey is speaking of on a global front. As Pan-Afrikan internationalists we see ourselves having to form a bloc or alliance first amongst ourselves that is where I think Huey differs with international communalism. But our Pan-Afrikanism doesn’t negate working with other oppressed communities or nations that aren’t independent yet.
We see global communities and nations. But we know independence & nationhood is the goal. Also for reference Huey Newton wrote a letter to The Peoples Republic of New Afrika and our first president Robert F Williams on his return from China about The Black Panther Party & Republic of New Afrika’s questions on each other’s political programs and lines in 1969.
VW: Cooperation Jackson is often seen as the vanguard of New Afrikan organizations, tied to Chokwe Lumumba and the Jackson-Kush Plan, yet many of their initiatives have been subordinate to the Democratic Party and liberal politics. Can there be political independence in such a situation?
HKS: I don’t think most see Cooperation Jackson as the vanguard of New Afrikan organizations. I think us New Afrikans see every New Afrikan organization as a working bloc that’s interconnected striving for the same political aspirations and goals of the New Afrikan Independence Movement at the same time meeting the needs of the people.
Meeting the needs of the people is to love and service the peoples’ needs in every way by any means necessary. With that being said when it comes to some working within the Democratic Party and liberal politics is a strategy to meet the needs of the New Afrikan community and majority New Afrikan/Black populated cities.
They know it’s not the end goal or the main strategy for political independence. When a people are in poverty and third world conditions do we as revolutionaries turn our backs on the people and negate certain strategies cause we disagree with it?
Speaking for me only I don’t see political independence within the Democratic Party — liberal politics or no other Amerikan political party.
VW: Why do you think the Democratic Party and its politics are so dominant among Black/New Afrikan people?
When we’re dealing with the Democratic Party that’s Amerikan politics unfortunately. The great percentage of our people identify as being Afrikan Amerikans or Black Amerikans not as New Afrikans.
To overstand the pseudonym of the Amerikan identity in the Black community and its history & relationship of brutal repression, violence, voting, second class citizenship, the horrors of slavery and political oppression, then it should be easy to recognize why the Democratic Party is so dominant amongst Black Amerikans.
It’s like being in toxic relationship with an abuser. It’s not easy to leave or separate from your abuser that you have generational dependence on, especially when you’re mentally not freed from the abuse or politically conscious.
Being New Afrikan is to be independent and having a political consciousness. If you’re an oppressed Amerikan you’re gonna align with the colonizing ruling two party class.
VW: What’s your assessment of the Black Lives Matter movement currently? Do you see a division between its official spokespeople like Alicia Garza vs the rank and file?
HKS: The Black Lives Matter Movement as I’ve always seen it was a reactionary emotional response to police terrorism. Its forming was necessary to a certain degree as the Black youth, college students, and young community activist needed a movement to organize and rally behind to release their fire, skills, anger, and collective strength within.
Was the Black Lives Matter movement necessary? Yes, but it needed to evolve into more which it hasn’t. The Black Panther Party & New Afrikan elders released a joint statement to the Black Lives Matter movement lending guidance & direction, but it seems it was ignored. The contradictions have created the division that the elders warned them about!
VW: Like the Democrats (and often in coalition with them), why do you think reactionary groups like the Nation of Islam have such sway among Black/New Afrikan people?
HKS: The Nation of Islam hasn’t always been a reactionary group. The Nation Islam has done a lot of great work in New Afrikan communities for decades. They have transformed a lot of Black men and women lives in the community.
A lot of their early programs have inspired other groups’ programs. They have gotten a lot of Black people off drugs with their detoxification programs and they have fed a lot Black communities and have been heavy in Black farming. I think those reasons alone is why there is still attachment to the NOI.
VW: How do you relate to multiracial worker organizations such as unions?
HKS: Multiracial workers organization I respect the work that is being done amongst some of the unions. The ones who’re working with revolutionary principles and means to meet the needs of the proletarian class within the U.S.
I support any work that pertains to the proletariat to take dictatorship over their labor. Many New Afrikans are of multiracial ethnicity, we must support them.
VW: Do you see Black/New Afrikan people primarily as part of the working class?
HKS: Yes, New Afrikans are of the proletarian class. New Afrikans are arguably descendants of the first proletarian class to form under U.S. settler colonialism under freed forced labor of the domestic slave trade of the U.S.
But we’re also a working class of our own nation – the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika. That’s something that has be more made well known to our people.
That we are working class of a colonized captured nation that was formed out of the brutal repression of forced free slave labor of the New Afrikan proletarian class.
VW: Do you see nationalism still as a necessary politics? How does it relate to a universalist politics centered around class unity across nations?
HKS: Nationalism will always be a necessary politic for those who identify with land, which is the basis of people who want to do for themselves.
Without land people can’t do for themselves and produce the needs for a people, community and nation. Nationalism is a politics that has to be seen also as an environmental struggle against all environmental injustices.
Capitalism terrorizes the environment and humans – we are one. As far as New Afrikan nationalism and universalist politics, we believe in creating a society to be the model of the pursuit of happiness and harmonious freedom which the U.S. hasn’t adhere to for all people of peace and humankind.
VW: What relevance does Black/New Afrikan nationalism have for Virginia?
HKS: New Afrikan nationalism has a relevance for Virginia as it pertains to Black/New Afrikans who’re searching for a movement to join that’s been doing grassroots work for over 40 to 50+ years to lead our people in what we believe is the correct direction.
Virginia & Black Virginia history I believe is rooted in nationalism. We just have to make Virginians aware of this history and connect it to the future we want to see for our people and Virginia’s role in that future.
Whether you identify or not with New Afrikan nationalism there’s still work to be done in Virginia for the New Afrikan proletarian class.
VW: Has Black/New Afrikan nationalism ever been a significant political force in Virginia?
HKS: If we’re speaking on a historical materialist overview, yes it has because we consider many Black/New Afrikan Virginians such as Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, The Dismal Swamp Maroons, and even figures like William Washington Browne who’ve been examples and inspiration to New Afrikan nationalists.
There have been many New Afrikan historic struggles, important dates, etc tied to New Afrikan nationalist struggles. Even freedom fighters like Safiya Bukhari of the BLA/BPP was captured here. Far as political force today many people in Virginia need to be educated and made aware of New Afrikan nationalism and The New Afrikan Independence Movement’s existence in Virginia.
VW: What do you think is the necessary path forward for Black/New Afrikan proletarians in Virginia?
HKS: The necessary path forward for Black/New Afrikan proletarians in Virginia is to build a self dependent culture & infrastructure so New Afrikan proletarians can start to move forward outside of liberal politics and agendas that haven’t really produced anything tangible for the New Afrikan working class in Virginia.
I believe the Black/New Afrikan working class like elsewhere in the U.S. are trapped in colonization of the Democratic Party. The Black proletariat have to learn that we are our own liberators, that comes from theory and practice, but most important of that is the practice!
We must do for ourselves and be an example for other oppressed workers in Virginia, we must be the blade in the contradiction of the politics of Virginia. That’s the beginning of the path toward the future of the Black/New Afrikan proletariat.
VW: Any other comments or points you’d like to make?
HKS: I would like to thank the Virginia Worker for giving me opportunity to use my voice on behalf of The New Afrikan Independence Movement & The New Afrikan/Black proletarian C\class as it pertains to Virginia politics & the grassroots struggle, the workers’ class struggle and the nationalist struggle of Virginia. Free The Land!
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