Remembering The Legacies of Kwame Nkrumah & Malcolm X In The 21st Century

This past week on April 27th, 2016 marks the 44th anniversary of Kwame Nkrumah’s departure from the physical realm. Nkrumah was a Lincoln University graduate, and the first prime minister of Ghana after leading them to independence from colonial rule in 1957. His philosophy—known as Nkrumahism—is largely a combination of Marxist, Pan-African and Black Nationalist ideologies. Nkrumah’s political success helped to inspire many African-American intellectual thinkers including Malcolm X, who’s unofficial national day of remembrance approaches us on May 20.

Remembering the legacies of these two influential figures in the struggle against racist colonial governments should not be limited to a romanticization of the radical black male stereotype. Understanding Nkrumah’s Philosophy as a blueprint for the liberation of all black people, which set the precedence for many other African countries to gain independence after Ghana, we must not forget his contributions to the struggle against racism, capitalism and neo-colonialism. In observance of the ideas produced by influential leaders of the past, I raise the question “What does liberation look like for African-Americans today?”

Featured on Beyonce’s latest album “Lemonade” is a quote from Malcom X saying,

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

Indicating that black women suffer from racial, gender and class inequality, Malcolm X understood the significance of black women in the struggle for liberation of all black people. In 21st century America, we find black women dominating all demographics in terms of growth and production in entrepreneurship, education, and political activism. Many 21st-century resistance movements such as #BlackLivesMatter are led by black women and seek to reform oppressive institutions. In contrast to male-dominated movements of the past (i.e. Black Power, Black Panthers, etc.) that sought autonomy from oppressive neo-colonial governments.

In observance of the ideas and solutions produced by Kwame Nkrumah and Malcolm X it is imperative to understand that any liberation movement in the 21st century must be centered around black women. Nkrumah’s belief in the unity of all black people includes the contributions of intellectual thought from black women who Malcolm X understood to be the most oppressed group of people in America. Remembering the legacies of these influential figures in black liberation struggle should force us to identify how their solutions can be reshaped to fit a 21st-century struggle against the same institutions that they combatted with. The questions I would like to leave my readers with this week are as follows,

What does liberation look like for you? Is it reformist or revolutionary?

What can you do and what have you done to ensure that black women are not fighting for the liberation of oppressed peoples all alone?

Since the announcement of Trump’s rally, there has been much backlash by students of West Chester University. Anonline petition against Trump appearing at the university gained over 3,900 signatures in less than 24 hours since the Friday night announcement. The petition states that “…his ideas and visions for the United States ARE NOT what we believe in and WILL NOT be tolerated on our campus.” It is apparent that faculty members and university leaders will allow and tolerate Trump’s message.

In reference to the backlash that the Hilary Clinton rumor received from Cheyney University students this past week, it was reported that she would no longer be making an appearance by the student government madame president through an Instagram post. Though faculty members never officially announced that Hilary Clinton would be visiting the first historically black college, it is apparent that their interests in scheduling her appearance did not correlate with that of the students. Much like West Chester, a disconnection seems to exist between the Cheyney University leadership and the students.

Both Trump and Clinton have struggled throughout their campaigns dealing with cultural and racially sensitive topics. Donald Trump at one point in his campaign was publicly endorsed by former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke. Hilary Clinton is highly criticized for pandering to the African-American community, which she admitted to doing on Monday, April 18th, 2016 during her interview with The Breakfast Club on New York radio station Power 105.1. Though both of these candidates continue to spout rhetoric that is distasteful and influences conflict (sometimes violence for Trump) between social groups, university leaders believe that hosting a rally for them to speak does not equal an endorsement.

It is disheartening to think that university leaders would approve such activities to be held on school grounds without first consulting the students. Though the monetary gain for the university could be appealing, I find Donald Trump’s appearance at West Chester to be much more concerning due to the state of Pennsylvania’s history with the Ku Klux Klan. In reference to my last article, perhaps this is a time to start investigating West Chester University leadership?

Looking beyond the disconnection between students and university leadership I wish the concerned students at West Chester University the best of luck in canceling Donald Trump’s appearance. A disdain for Hilary Clinton on the Cheyney University campus caused students to speak out against her presence, letting it be known that she is not welcome, subsequently leading to the cancellation of her rally event. What a time to be alive and most certainly a time for university students to stand up for what is just and not allow people, no matter how powerful, to use our homes as places to invigorate their political agendas.

This article was written with all of the people who have ever resisted the occupation of spaces by racially and culturally insensitive members of our political system in mind.

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