Workshop Report

Kwame M.A. Somburu

Kwame Somburu, was born in New York’s Harlem Hospital in 1934.

In 1960, after a few years of independent study (from a scientific perspective) in many and varied historical/contemporary areas, but mainly African & African American history, the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Troytsky, and acquired from life experiences, he declared himself to a be a Black Nationalist (class definition) and a Scientific Socialist.  Kwame’s appropriate, political idenitifcaiton is Trotskyist: Scientific Socialist analysis of Capitalism/ Imperialism, Stalinim, Facism, worker’s revolution, colonial revolution, racism, self determination for all peoples, and relevant contributions towards a working class world revolution.

From 1965-1983, he was a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and from 1983 to 1999 he was a member of Socialist Action. In 2000, Kwame and other Trotskyists formed the Socialist Workers Organization. The publish a bimonthly magazine: Socialist Viewpoint. For further information:; or call 415-920-9323. A one-year introductory subscription is $20.00  In 1993, Kwane published A Succinct Analysis of the fist 100 years of African and African American Hisory, 1776 to 1877, from the American Revolution to the end of reconstruction.






Kwame has been a candidate for public office nine times, including Vice President of the United States (1968), Mayor of New York City (1969), Mayor of Oakland, CA (1977), and Congress (three times).

He has spoken on Harlem street corners, in London’s Hyde Park, at community meetings, and at the UN General Assembly’s 44th Committee on Decolonization; also at many schools such as: University of Toronto, London School of Economics, Columbia, Oxford, Duke, Harvard, Notre Dame, Central State, and Southern University. He was a guest of the television shows of William Buckley, Joey Bishop,and Dick Cavett, in addition to other media, and press conferences throughout the US and a few countries.

Click here to view 1968 William Buckley show.

In the early 1960s Kwame was active in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and the Committe to Aid the Monroe Defendants (Robert Williams et. al, Monroe, North Carolina)He also participated in the 1963 March on Washington, where he sold hundereds of copies of Freedomways Magazine: A quarterly Reivew of the Negro Freedom Movement.  A few months later, he became chairman of the Harlem Freedom Now Party (FNP).  It was founded in Washington, D.C. after the March.  In August of 1964, he was arrested twice while attempting to campaign for State Senator as the FNP’s candidate.  Kwame was one of a few political activisits that were banned from public speaking in Harlem during that summer.  In the mid 1960s, he was chairman of the Alexander Defense Committee, which was organized to defend Dr. Neville Alexander, a South African political activist imprisoned in Robben Island Penitentiary.  In december 1965, he was founding chairman of Afro-Americans Against the War in Vietnam.  Kwame also participated in the major Black Power Conferences of the ’60s.  In 1967, he was a staff member of the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.  Kwame assisted in organizing approximately 400,000 peope (specifically, a contingent of Sioux Indians and a few thousand members of New York’s African American and Puerto Rican commmunities) for a rally on April 15, 1067, at the United Nations.  Twice in 1968, the Candian government delayed his entry for over 2 hours before admitting him for a speking tour.  Kwame was not allowed to enter Bermuda in September, 1969, to attend a Black Power Conference.

In 1970, Kwame was chairman of the Committee of Black Americans for Truth About the Middle East.  It placed a half page ad in the Nov. 1st, 1970 New York Times, that stated: An apeal by Black Americans Against United States Support of the Zionist Government of Israel. He toured Lebanon, Jordan and Syria as a guest of the General Union of Palestine Students.  In 1972, he was a founding member of the Africa Information Service.  In the early 1980s, he was a member of the National Black Independent Political Party, and the U.S. Grenada Friendship Society.  Kwame traveld to Germany, England and the Netherlands, in 1993 to lectur on Malcom X, the film about his life, and in defense of Black Nationalism and Socialism.  He also participated in a fall 2000 conference at the New York Univesity titled Explorations in the History of U.S. Trotskyism, in which he spoke on Black Nationalism, Malxom X, and Socialism.

In July 2008, Kwame, his wife Zakiy (died from cancer on Janury 4th, 2010, because of “Profits over People,”) and their son Asi-Yahola, participated in a three day Trotskyist Socialist Conference, at Fordham University in New York City.  In his late 70s (and in excellent health), Kwame continues over 50 years of totla opposition to U.S. domestic and foreign policy, and its many, varied, historic and contemporary, horrid creims that most Americans are grossly ignroant of, or are in denial.

Kwame Somburu has continued his struggle as an active participant in the Occupy Movement.

All ruling classes will use terror, violence, massacres, and “Any Means Necessary” to maintain and extend their rule.  US rulers have always used vioclence: Pllitce, National Guard, Military, Priate Armed Forces, FBI, and the CIA.


The Mis-Education of African American Youth

By Kwame M.A. Somburu


The May 18, 2000 San Francisco Chronicle had an article titled A Soldier’s Life.   It was about eighth graders from a low income area of California on a field trip to San Francisco’s Presidio, a former military base, to learn about the “Buffalo Soldiers, the black troops who protected settlers as they traveled West.”  The National Park Service has a “program designed to connect minority students to their heritage. . . .”  One innocent, mis-educated youth said “I didn’t even know they existed, I’m proud to know African Americans were Buffalo Soldiers.”

The Northern Capitalist exploiters of wage slaves, decided that some of the Black soldiers who played a major role in defeating the Southern Slave-masters in the Civil War, could be used in the continuing wholesale robbery of Native American land by white corporations and settlers, big and small.  One year after the Civil War, “Congress passed new legislation that for the first time in U.S. history permitted black people to enlist in the Army. . . .”

Six all Black regiments “were established primarily to help rebuild the nation, which had been devastated by the intense fighting.”  Over 200 years of history’s most murderous, degrading, torturous, exploitative slavery both mental and physical devastated the total existence of millions of slaves and so-called free blacks (4 million slaves, 500,000 free in 1861).  Yet the victorious Northern capitalists did not see fit to organize or aid in the organization of these victims of both Northern and Southern oppression, to rebuild their shattered lives.

After the Civil War, racist, grossly ignorant, stupid, emotional, poor white reactionaries, organized to prevent the former slaves from acquiring gains during peace time, that they thought they had won as a result of the war and Constitutional amendments.  The poor whites cherished and revered the memory of their former power of life and death over Blacks slave or free.  What they especially remembered was the widespread practice of night patrols white men specially deputized for the purpose of prowling Southern roads enforcing the curfew for slaves, looking for runaways, and guarding rural areas against the threat of Black uprisings.  The law authorized them to give a specific number of lashes to any violators of white supremacist laws.

In December, 1865, six young ex-Confederates met in a law office to form a secret club which they called the Ku Klux Klan.  They originally decided to call themselves the Knights of the Golden Circle.  The Knights of the Kuklos was suggested to avoid confusion with an older organization called the Knights of the Golden Circle.  Kuklos is a Greek word for “circle.”  This was agreed to, and Kuklos Klan resulted which soon became Ku Klux Klan.  They described their organization as: ” . . . an institution of Chivalry, Humanity, Mercy, and Patriotism; embodying in its genius and its principles all that is chivalric in  conduct, noble in sentiment, generous in manhood, and patriotic in purpose; its peculiar objects being. . . .  To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless, from the indignities, wrongs and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal . . . “

For a brief period they engaged in non-violent, terrorist, scare tactics, then for most of 1866 they became violently bloody.  The Klan was made to order for the immediate needs of the Southern ruling class to reassert its control, and eventually the overall dominant needs of the Northern capitalists when they decided to abandon the former slaves and  poor whites for the sake of unity among exploiters. 

Southern aristocrats controlled the Klan, and poor whites made up its rank and file.  By 1868, it had more than 500,000 members, and committed millions of terrorist acts.  “Klansmen rode the highways and country lanes, burning houses and farms, … massacring Negroes … If a Black man was believed  to be guilty of having seduced a white woman, he was castrated, tarred and feathered, then lynched.  Likewise, if a white woman was believed to have encouraged the sexual advances of a Black man, she was murdered, usually only after she had been shaven bald and made to parade through the streets nude, the words ‘nigger-lover’ painted across (or carved by pen-knife into) her chest and back.

Terrorism in the form of massacres, tortures, threats, and assassinations, were carried out by the Ku Klux Klan, the Democratic Party, Knights of the White Camelia, the White Brotherhood, the Pale Faces, and the ’76 Association.  “In the state election of 1875, Mississippi Democrats simply resolved to use as much force as was necessary in order to win…local Democratic clubs organized themselves into irregular militia companies and armed themselves with rifles.” 

They drilled and paraded through the areas of heavy Negro population; they dispersed Republican meetings; they forced Negroes at rifle point to listen to Democratic speakers; they deliberately provoked riots in which hundreds of Negroes were killed; and they posted armed pickets at registration places to prevent Negroes from registering.”  “In some instances, Northern soldiers sided with the gangs that terrorized and killed Negroes.”  The betrayal of the former slaves and quasi-free Blacks by the Northern capitalists, restored white racist rule throughout the South.

The Northern Capitalists Civil War victory gave them control over the entire United States.  It also enabled them to continue the killing and imprisoning of Native Americans in the western territories for the major benefit of corporations and in lesser degrees, subordinate white settlers thereby spreading capitalism from ocean to ocean.  The massive robbery of Indian lands with significant help from the Buffalo Soldiers  made possible monumental territorial giveaways to corporate Robber Barons. 

Abraham Lincoln and succeeding presidents gave the Union Pacific Railroad, more land than the combined area of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  He gave the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, over 2,928,928 acres in Kansas.  By 1872, the giveaway of the land taken by force from Native Americans, had amounted to 155,000,000 acres, “an  area estimated as ‘almost equal to the New Eng- land states, New York, and Pennsylvania combined….  The chronicle of all the frauds connected with the manipulation of land grants to railways and the shameless sale of legal privileges cannot be written because in most instances no tangible records have been left.” 

This is truly a blatantly sad example of the mis-education of African American youth by ignorant teachers.  They are indoctrinating naive, innocent students who are not given the opportunity to see reality and know the truth about American history from the viewpoint of the oppressed.  The superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Brian O’Neill, said “We want- ed this to be relevant to the education of students  in the Ravenswood district.”  A park volunteer said that the program “has been a hit with students and teachers.”  Gary McKinney, a teacher said, “They get an opportunity to see that people who looked like them were successful and made real accomplishments.”  Yes, in spreading white supremacy and murdering and oppressing Native Americans.  

The students gathered in a tent, listened to an “audiotape describing the conflicts and contributions of the courageous black regiments” and wrote in their journals.  The article also stated that the Buffalo Soldiers “fought racism and were often given inferior supplies.”  It is apparent that the racism that they fought against was only in the military.  They wanted equal opportunities to fight, kill, and oppress Indians just like the whites had been and were doing for hundreds of years.  In the present they mainly kill and oppress them with other methods than previously.

The Buffalo Soldiers were also given the opportunity to fight for American Imperialism under the command of the racist, murderous, imperialist Theodore Roosevelt and his so-called Rough Riders, during the Spanish American War.  Their pay was less than what whites received.  “Yet, many black men enlisted out of sense of duty and honor to their country and their people.”  They were not serving or honoring their people by fighting for a criminal ruling class in its wars against oppressed freedom fighters. 

Eighteen Buffalo Soldiers received the Medal of Honor for valor during the Spanish American War.  No African American ever was honored by the United States Government for fighting in the interests of their people against white supremacist murderers, rapists, wholesale robbers, slave masters, or the armed agents of the U.S. Government who often were in the forefront or backing up those terror- ists who committed massive crimes against us.  In the 1930s, African Americans who wanted to fight against the fascist Italian invasion of Ethiopia, were threatened with loss of citizenship by the Roosevelt government.

One young victim of this alleged educational excursion  planned to bring her family to the Presidio.  “It’s good to see all the people who died for us and for the country.”  Based on knowledge and experience, I assume that her family is even more steeped in ignorance of historical reality than she is, because they had many more years of indoctrination, mal-education and mis-education.

That heroism of African Americans fighting bravely for their masters continues to this day.  Robert Williams, a Korean War Veteran, [however] organized his community of Monroe,  North Carolina from 1958 to 1961 against the Klan.  At that time he was forced to flee the country as a result of a conspiracy against him by the FBI and southern racists on a phony kidnap charge; and Elmer Pratt, a Vietnam Veteran later known as Geronimo Ji Ja Ga, who joined the Black Panthers soon after returning from Vietnam, and was framed up by an F.B.I./Los Angeles police conspiracy on a murder charge. He spent 27 years in prison until his release a few years ago, did not receive any acclaim or awards from this capitalist white supremacist government, for fighting in defense of African Americans against terrorist attacks from racists in white sheets, police uniforms, business, leisure, or working class attire.

The time is long past for a mass awakening of the African American masses.  Think of lions in 3 different circumstances:  lion #1, is in its natural environment therefore it looks like a lion, thinks like a lion, and acts like a lion; lion #2, in a zoo, looks like a lion, has lion instincts, even if it was born in the zoo, and would be considered a threat if it escaped confinement; lion #3, in a circus, only looks like a lion, it neither thinks nor acts like one because its mind is under the control of its trainer.  Humans are often indoctrinated the same way.  The majority of African Americans have the physical appearance of having varying degrees of African ancestry; however the reality is that in general, the majority of their minds are usually unconscious of any positive knowledge or awareness regarding their African ancestral history and Africa’s past, present, or concern for its future. 


In 1993, a book by Clinton Cox titled The Forgotten Heroes: The Story of the Buffalo Soldiers was published by Scholastic Press.  It is well documented, and was written with the expressed purpose of depicting the extremely negative treatment received by both African Americans and Native Americans under the murderously racist policies of the United States government:

In the late 1800’s, thousands of black cavalrymen were recruited by the United States government to open the West to settlers.  They escorted wagon trains, carried the mail when no one else could get through, and fought battles against Native Americans who were led by great men such as Geronimo.  They came to be known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

This is the tragic story of the African-American soldiers who had hoped to find a freedom they had never known by joining the army.  But ironically, their military mission was to take freedom away from people who had always known it–Native Americans. 

That quotation is from the book cover.  It should be more than adequate to introduce a book that covers a significantly important sector of American history.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and found my knowledge of that era and geographical locale to be considerably enriched and enlightened.

Kwame Somburu was born in New York’s Harlem Hospital in 1934; he lived in New York City for 39 years, California for 33, Massacusetts for 6 years, and now resides in the Capital Region.  For further information, debates, or speaking engagements write to: k[email protected]

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