Thursday, April 22, 2010

Parole Bid for Malcolm’s Assassin Halted?

By LittleRed:

A funny thing happened while on the way to a press conference officially condemning the release of an assassin of Malcolm X from the NY state prison system, Zayid Muhammad, the press officer for the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, got one of the most polite phone calls he had ever received.

The call came from of all places the NY State Parole Board.

“We had already made our condemnation known to the governor. We sounded the drum for the community to do the same. I guess somebody picked up the phone,” he assessed.

The phone call was an apology and an explanation of sorts. The official placing the call, Lester Edwards, the Secretary to the Parole Board, insisted that they did not know who to contact in Malcolm’s family and explained that the Victims Impact Statement is an important part of one’s parole consideration and that it wasn’t too late for survivors of Malcolm’ s family to become ‘registered victims.’
“We just didn’t know who to call,” Edwards said.
“It was a timely, but creepy call,” Muhammad went on to explain.

First, Malcolm had a large family and has survivors on both sides of his family. Two of his six daughters, Ilyasah and Malaak, are on the Board of Directors of the Shabazz Center, (established by the late Dr. Betty Shabazz). The Shabazz Center, the former Audubon Ballroom where Malcolm was ultimately assassinated, is now an important link to Columbia University. Ilyasah, as author of her own coming of age memoir, Growing Up X, is an accomplished writer in her own right and is an official for the city of Mt Vernon.

“Which is still in the state of New York,” quipped Muhammad angrily.
Attallah Shabazz, his oldest daughter, is doing serious diplomatic work, and Ronnell Collins, his nephew by his big sister Ella Little-Collins, did an excellent book, The Seventh Child, on his famous uncle’s family history.

“They all have established, sound public lives. To say that they did not know of anybody is absolutely unacceptable,” Muhammad finished.

On March 3rd, that Parole Board granted Talmadge Hayer, also known as Thomas Hagen, parole and scheduled April 28th to be his release date.

Hayer was convicted of taking part in Malcolm’s assassination in 1966. At his trial, he tried to exonerate his two codefendents Norman Butler and Thomas Johnson who would also be convicted. In 1978, Hayer detailed his role in the assassination and named his accomplices, seeking to further come to terms with what he had done and to again exonerate his codefendants.

The state did nothing to follow up on where that confession would lead them. They did grant Butler and Johnson parole some years later. Hayer had been granted work release shortly thereafter and was in such good standing that he had been able to visit his family several days a week for years.

Although he had come up for parole more than a dozen times, this time the Parole Board said yes, but did so without the proper notification of the family so they can be rightly heard on the issue, and with no regard to the “magnitude of the crime,” he explained angrily.

“How dare they cheapen his life like that and disrespect our people like that!”

Reggie Mabry of the Sons of Afrika said that “releasing an assassin of Malcolm X quietly without collecting the Victim Impact Statements from the famous family of Malcolm X because they say they can't find the family shows again that the system is and was complicit in the assassination of Brother Malcolm.

“It also shows that process and use of Victim Impact Statements is fraudulent,” he finished angrily.

Elder Sid Wilson of the Int’l Friends and Family of Dr. Mutulu Shakur, a wrongly held political prisoner from New York for the last 24 years, pointed out the hypocrisy of the process.

“The Parole Board leaves us to conclude that it routinely punishes political prisoners and rewards assassin of freedom fighters, even as revered as Malcolm X.”

“It ain’t going down like that,” said James Small, an advisor to both sides of the family, bottomlining the issue.

Small, a surviving member of the Malcolm’s Organization of Afro American Unity, also said that the family has since been informed and will be calling to be heard.

”Do we realize that if it had not been for the late Reuben Francis, one of Malcolm’s soldiers, (the only one armed on that fateful February 21st day in 1965) who wounded Hayer on the scene, all five of Malcolm’s hitters would have gotten away scot-free, and we would know nothing else about it,” Muhammad insisted.

The family has to become ‘registered victims’ before April 28th in order to keep Hayer from “walking” away from one of the greatest crimes against the AfricanAmerican community.

Submitted by Zayid Muhammad -

Lessons from Confederate History Month

By Ezrah Aharone:

Next year in April commemorates the 150th anniversary of America’s Civil War. So under the pretext to “encourage tourism” in Virginia, which has over 100 Confederate monuments, GOP Governor Bob McDonnell dusted-off an old proclamation that declares April as “Confederate History Month.” Not only did he revive it, he removed a clause stating “that slavery was one of the causes” of the war.

President Obama called this “an unacceptable omission,” while members of Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus said the document was “offensive, one-sided, and a revision of history.” GOP Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who declared April as “Confederate Heritage Month” in a similar proclamation which also excluded slavery, said all the fuss “doesn’t amount to diddly.” But McDonnell apologized and amended Virginia’s proclamation to include and condemn slavery.

The real problem here however, supercedes the omissions and one-sidedness of any single proclamation, including Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. American history is largely promoted with slanted, bravado narratives of nationalism, whereby the means are always vindicated by glorifications of the end. And when it comes to the historiography of slavery, a taboo-blame of racism is transferred upon African Americans who veer from sugarcoated viewpoints.

As such, Americans are made to think that the Civil War was fought to end the Confederate immoralities of slavery. But based on unquestioned racism that lasted well into the 1960s, it’s illogical that millions of Whites would actually fight and slaughter 624,000 of themselves over the rights of Blacks way back in the 1860s. If the Emancipation Proclamation was really predicated upon America’s “goodness of democracy,” why would Democrats and Republicans turnaround and willfully legislate a full century of segregation after so much self-bloodshed?

On the surface, this outlook certainly qualifies for a transferred taboo-blame of racism. But to lend historical validation, consider a quote from President Obama himself. As then-senator, he commented to Time Magazine (June 25, 2005) that: “I cannot swallow whole the view of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator. I am fully aware of his limited views on race. Anyone who actually reads the Emancipation Proclamation knows it was more a Military Document than a clarion call for justice.”

Speaking of “omissions and one-sidedness” in proclamations . . . Instead of mandating a unilateral “Military Document” (signed only by him and his Secretary of State), Lincoln and representatives of our forbearers should have jointly agreed and formally signed a binding “Bilateral Accord” that satisfied the ideals and demands of the 4 million “Emancipated” people in question. That would have been the honorable, non-racist, democratic thing for any offending government to do after nearly 250 years of enslavement.

What’s lasting and telling about this affront and disingenuous nature of the Emancipation Proclamation, is the unspoken but undeniable lack of affinity and familiarity that African Americans hold towards it today. Although it presumably represents our long-awaited “triumph over slavery,” it’s hard to find a Black person who can recite a complete phrase from it. Simply ask around and you’ll find proof yourself.

The unedited truth is that Lincoln ended slavery in the Confederacy for the same reason it was instituted – to make capitalism more functional. By the 1860s the Industrial Revolution was in gear. Northern industrial businesses would outperform Southern agrarian businesses, making it necessary to restructure labor, commerce, and capital investments. Paying low wages to Black industrial laborers therefore made better economic sense and great social policy for a more civilized face of government.

But since Southern states stood to lose billions in property (enslaved) assets and wealth, the Confederates sought secession and war became an unavoidable consequence of this industrial shift. While a Confederate victory would have definitely prolonged slavery, this should not be politically misconstrued into the notion that Lincoln’s fight against secession was thereby a fight for the justice of abolition.

To believe that the principal of the Civil War was to “free” Africans from the Confederates is as inaccurate as thinking the current war in Afghanistan is being fought to free Afghans from the Taliban. Although Afghans may eventually be liberated from Taliban influences as a by-product of the war, the underlying purpose and politics of the conflict are immensely more far-reaching. And likewise were the driving circumstances between the Civil War and the by-product of Emancipation.

But since the facts of American history are slanted with narratives to glorify American democracy, the Civil War is framed to unduly credit and equate the Union with noble motives. So it’s acceptable to place taboo-blames of racism on supporters of Confederate History Month, since Confederates resided on the opposite side of the war. Yet, the prevailing mischaracterizations surrounding Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, now cause African Americans to reside on the opposite side of the truth.

Ezrah Aharone is the author of two political books: Sovereign Evolution: Manifest Destiny from Civil Rights to Sovereign Rights (2009) and Pawned Sovereignty: Sharpened Black Perspectives on Americanization, Africa, War and Reparations (2003). He is a founding member of the Center for Sovereignty Advancement. He can be reached at