The nationalist liberation struggles which emerged around the world against monarchies, colonialism and modern colonialism are seen as dynamic phases for the uprising of the people. It means, these struggles function as a bonding factor that integrate the people and give political consciousness to them.
Such struggles are remarkably remembered in the history because the people of a particular land have decided to oppose even the imperialistic super-powers for their livelihood and political rights. Further, they have also been able to achieve success in their struggles.
The history of the United States has seen a number of such struggles against the most brutal oppression. And these struggles still continue.
In the books of history, we see a lot of bloody pages on the atrocities carried out by white people on the black people. Those historical pages saw the black colour as a symbol for resisting all the brutal oppression. In this backdrop the Cultural nationalism started to emerge based on colour and race. This cultural nationalism further developed into the political demand of the right to self-determination. At one point it started to move towards an idea, of separate nation for black people.
The Black Nationalism in the United States was developed in all dimensions, i.e., politically, culturally, ethnically, racially, religiously and economically. The period of 1960s, until mid-70s saw various black movements. These movements came to a culmination point, a nation for blacks.
This Black Nationalism should be seen as the epitome of the uprising of people. In the most brutal manner, these people were trafficked from different countries of African continent to North America, where they had become slaves.
America is not the native land for the Black people. Neither do they have a country to go back to. Even though many Black people know that they had come from the African continent, but they hardly have any knowledge about their native country. In a situation like this, there is no other option but to stand and fight where they are currently living and naturally this fight is a very hard one. Although the United States is a colony, it is under the full control of the European powers, the Anglo-Saxons. Despite this the black people did not give up on their struggles. They have been demonstrating, putting across thousands of protests in various forms, large and small, since the day they set foot in the United States.
In the year 1619, the black people were first brought into the United States as slaves. Since 1619, their struggle has not abated. In a gradual and consistent manner, they are regaining their rights through various struggles.
Their first revolt was recorded in the year 1663 in Gloucester, Virginia. After this, we can see number of the revolts in the history such as the New York Slave Revolt of 1712, the Bloody Stono Uprising of 1739, the Amistad Ship uprising of 1764, the German Coastal uprising of 1811, the Nat Turner Rebellion of 1831, and the Civil War between 1859 and 1865. Despite severe repression and surveillance on black people, they did not give up their struggle towards liberation.
The Northern Provinces took efforts to abolish slavery during the War of American Independence. The efforts continued even after the War. However, these efforts did not emerge out of goodwill. Industrialization of the Northern Provinces needed free labour for their factories and these factories had great demand for workers. The White owners of the southern region had great demand for Slaves because the southern region had a number of cotton and tobacco plantation. Thus, the status of black people became somewhat better in the Northern provinces compared to the Southern provinces. Bills on the Abolition of Slavery played a key role in the outbreak of the civil war between the North and the South. Slavery was abolished by law in 1805 in the north of the United States. But enforcement was slow, and there was a strong opposition to anti-slavery laws in the South. Finally, in 1865, the Abraham Lincoln administration abolished slavery across the United States.
Although slavery was abolished by law in 1865, exclusion and humiliation continued to exist for the blacks. They had to fight for voting rights. In those days only whites had voting rights. Post-Civil War, during the reconstruction period, black people were able to assume government positions. All this was achieved through fierce struggles.
Until World War II, black people were able to work only in low-wage manual labour. Black people were not even allowed in the army as armed fighters. These discriminations were eradicated during the World War II. An air force team which contained only Black people had been formed and it operated successfully. The crisis during the World War II led to the rise of black people in the military, other workplaces and prominent positions.
In 1955, a black woman named “Rosa Parks” was sitting in a bus in a place reserved for black people. As was the custom, she was forced to leave her place for a White man. She was arrested for refusing to leave her seat for the White man. This news spread like wildfire and riots broke out. This woman has been called as the “mother of modern civil rights movements.”
At the same time, Martin Luther King Jr. was selected by black leaders to lead the struggle for Rosa Parks. Since then, Luther had been the axis of the Black Civil Rights movement.
In 1957, the Civil Rights Act came into force. Even though everyone had the voting rights, the southern provinces created many obstacles for black people in exercising their voting rights. The law, signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a huge success for the black people.
Stokely Carmichael, Martin Dylany, Louis Farrakhan, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Warith Deen Mohammed, Elijah Mohammed were among the other leaders who spoke and acted on the nationalities of black people in the United States.
The nationality of the Black people manifested in many ways such as the Black people should return to Africa, go and settle in Liberia, have individual rights within the United States, give some provinces to the Black people, return to their mother religion Islam, or separate the United States for Black people. These manifestations also led to cultural nationalism based on colour and ethnicity.
Wallace Fard Muhammad founded the “Islamic Nation”. Elijah Mohammed took charge after him. Many Blacks embraced Islam under the influence of the idea which was expressed by this movement. People like Mohammad Ali are notable examples. The well-known Black leader Malcolm X was also a disciple of Elijah Mohammed.
The “Black Panthers” movement was initiated in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The “Dalit Panthers movement” which emerged in India had influences of the Black Panthers. The movement was started to retaliate against the White police violence against the Black people. The U.S. intelligence worked hard to dismantle the organization and succeeded in it.
The Black Panthers, who declared themselves as a revolutionary movement, asserted the right of self-determination for black people. They adopted the philosophies of Frantz Cannon, Maotse Tung and Kwame Nkrumah and paved their own way.
The recent movement “Black Lives Matter” which re-emerged after the assassination of George Floyd shocked the entire world. The fact that racism continues even today and the reaction of black people to the assassination of George Floyd shows that such crimes will not stop unless a nation will be established for the Black people.
American Black people have been fighting continuously for more than 350 years. No one in the world has experienced the atrocities they have experienced in the last 350 years of history, yet they have never stopped fighting against their brutal suppression.
The Black people fought against the oppression which had emerged in the country based on the colour of their skin. The colour of their skin provided a platform for them to bond among one another. This solidarity has a legacy. No one can destroy this legacy. By nature, it has power to oppose the suppression. Everywhere such solidarity and bond has shown power against the oppression.
The struggle of black people is not over yet. It continues within and beyond the boundaries of the question of nationality.
The struggle of the American Black people is the struggle of the oppressed people around the world. The rich experiences of black people’ struggle should be shared with the people who are facing oppression around the world.
It may seem impossible for black people to become a separate nation before the brutal military power of the United States; however, it seems necessary.
Even in the 21st century, this racism, religious fundamentalism, casteism kill people and plunder their belongings. In this context Sovereignty becomes necessary for all. The struggle for sovereignty is a long journey and often does not have the possibility to succeed immediately. But history teaches us success is earned only by wisdom and bravery. However, the only way available for the oppressed is to go forward and fight with the enemies with all means and in all ways possible.