Date: Mon, 4 Nov 96 11:20:43 CST
Resent-From: rich%pencil@UKCC.uky.edu (Rich Winkel)
From: Marpessa Kupendua <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: !A TRIBUTE TO ROBERT WILLIAMS (RIP)
FORWARDED FROM CAN-AR LIST
A negro with guns; Tribute to Rob Williams
From The African American Commission of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, 1 November 1996
Robert Williams, a very important figure in the Black Liberation Movement, passed away recently. During the late '50s and early '60s-- years before the Panthers, the BLA, etc. appeared on the scene-- Williams and his NAACP chapter in Monroe were engaged in armed self-defense against the Klan. I wish I had a good summary of his life to post, but all I have is the below--a statement which will be read tonight at a memorial for him in Detroit.
Peace. -Eric Odell
The African American Commission of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization extends revolutionary greetings to the family and friends of the great African American patriot and internationalist, Rob Williams. We share your pain and loss of one of the most important leaders of our time who helped set standards for a generation of freedom fighters regarding commitment, courage and the maintenance of principles.
Rob's valiant stand in Monroe in the late 1950's and early 1960's brought forward the tradition of armed resistance of the slave rebellions, Black Union soldiers during the Civil War, the Union Leagues, Alabama Sharecroppers and hundreds of individual communities who historically understood Malcolm's call of "by any means necessary" when it came to stopping racist terror.
The struggle in Monroe not only exposed the vile and vicious nature of white supremacy and the oppression of the African American nation to the whole world, but also demonstrated the need for the African American liberation movement to rely on the leadership of its working class, direct action and self-defense. Moreover, Rob's leadership brought together the struggle of the Black nation in its national territory with that of the African American people in the North and eventually allies in China, Cuba, Africa and other parts of the world. These relationships have shaped our understanding of today's struggle and the strategy and tactics being pursued by those who seek national freedom for our people, self-determination for other nations held captive by U.S. imperialism, and an end to capitalism and its wretched system of class rule and exploitation.
For our youth, Rob's life helps to define what our relationship should be to the gun. The weapons and courage that our youth have are not in the service of our people and our struggle for liberation. We must struggle even harder to get them to understand our militant history and to love our people and our centuries long quest for self-determination. The weapons and courage can, and will, be put to the proper use.
As we look at Rob's life and struggle we see how they intersected with those of other important freedom fighters. The Monroe struggle brought James Forman, Conrad Lynn and Julian Mayfield into struggle together. Each continued to make critical contributions to political struggle, legal defense and peoples culture. Similarly, he was able to work with Vicki Garvin and others in China who represented a generation of African American freedom fighters who were victims of the cold war and the redbaiting that drove revolutionaries and socialists out of the trade union movement and destroyed organizations like the National Negro Labor Congress. These linkages were vital to our movement and we must extend them to the generations that follow.
As comrade-brother Rob laid in state in Monroe with his characteristic goatee, dressed in a "Mao" suit, writer's pen in pocket and the red, black and green liberation colors draped over his casket, we were filled with deep emotion and made the pledge that, as sister Sonia Sanchez has said, "I'm gonna stay on the battlefield til I die."
Long Live the Memory of Rob Williams!