From Wed Jan 8 09:40:32 2003
From: WW News Service <>
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Subject: wwnews Digest #562
Date: Wed, 08 Jan 2003 09:31:54 -0500

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Subject: [WW] Sonny Carson: prominent Black nationalist
Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 08:36:55 -0500

Sonny Carson: prominent Black nationalist

By Monica Moorehead, Workers World, 9 January 2003

Sonny Carson, an important figure in the Black nationalist movement in New York City, passed away Dec. 20. Carson had been in a coma since November after suffering two heart attacks brought on by years of suffering from asthma. He was 66 years old.

Carson, a Brooklyn native, became politicized while serving in the Army during the 1950s. He wrote an autobiography that reflected the life of painful survival that millions of Black youths are still forced to endure today. This included gang violence along with serving time for robbery in a juvenile detention center.

Carson's life story was transformed into a major motion picture in 1974 when blaxploitation films were popular. The film was called The Education of Sonny Carson, the same title as his book.

Carson was one of a number of African American activists, including Al Vann and Jitu Weusi, who was instrumental in helping to launch the just struggle for community control of the schools during the height of the Black liberation era in the 1960s. This particular struggle began in 1967 in Ocean Hill/Brownsville, a poor section of Brooklyn.

The right of Black parents and educators to determine how public funds should be spent to educate Black children was a defining issue in the right to self-determination of Black people as an oppressed nation, not only locally but nationally.

Weusi, presently an assistant principal in Brooklyn, says of Carson, He was my teacher... He was a giving person. If you had a problem, he would be there to help you, sometimes to a fault. He was always campaigning for our people.

After leaving the military in the 1950s until the late 1960s, Carson was the Brooklyn chairperson of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). He, along with others, eventually left CORE because of deepening political conservatism on the part of the leadership.

The racist establishment did everything they could to silence Carson because of his deep hatred of racist repression. During the theatrical release of The Education of Sonny Carson in 1974, Carson was arrested on charges of kidnapping, attempted murder and murder charges. He was convicted on the kidnapping charge and spent 15 months in Sing Sing prison.

Elombe Brath, spokesperson for the Patrice Lumumba coalition in New York, in response to racist attacks on Carson, stated, It was perhaps from these encounters (Ocean Hill/ Brownsville) that so much about Sonny was distorted by the media through selective quotes, the charges of him being anti-Semitic and anti-white. What we can say for certain is that he was an institution; a Black Nationalist who truly loved his people. He possessed a strong sense of loyalty, and he often taught by example.

Carson was outspoken whenever police brutality was exposed, and also in the aftermath of the shootings of four Black teenagers in the 1980s by racist Bernard Goetz. In explaining why Africans buried in Manhattan should be re-interred in Africa, Carson remarked, Those are the bones of our ancestors, and they need a proper burial in their homeland.

During the 1980s, Carson initiated the organization Black Men against Crack to help bring attention to the genocidal epidemic of crack cocaine that has destroyed countless lives in the Black community.

In tribute to Carson's life dedicated to the liberation of Black people, Viola Plummer, leader of the December 12 Movement in Brooklyn, commented, He never took a break from the fight against oppression: vacation was not a word in his vocabulary. Black self-determination was a constant in his life, and on this he was uncompromising. Sonny was the quintessential nationalist, who sincerely loved his people.