Strategy After Ferguson

Strategy After Ferguson

A 2016 collection of interviews with groups that make up "part of what may be an emerging radical pole in the struggle for black liberation". This collection first appeared in Viewpoint Magazine.

This roundtable is a part of our evolving “Movement Inquiry” feature, which opened with an investigations of housing struggles in the US and Black Liberation in higher education. If you would like to get involved, email us at roundtables AT viewpointmag DOT com.

Ferguson’s August uprising wasn’t the first to follow a police murder, not even in recent memory. But unlike the 2009 Oscar Grant rebellion, or the actions in Flatbush after the murder of Kimani Gray in 2013, the street militancy exhibited by that small suburb of St. Louis endured long enough to inspire a national movement for black lives and liberation. We should pause to reflect on the tremendous ground that’s been covered in these first seventeen months. How distant do the denunciations of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson now seem? Or the simultaneous outpouring of hundreds of thousands of people into the streets and highways of every major American city? Those earliest debates establishing black leadership and the urgent defenses of rioting now carry an air of inevitability to them, but just over a year ago, they remained open questions.

That the movement has developed at such a breakneck speed has posed unique challenges for our inquiry. Trying to keep pace has often a been dizzying task, as new questions and conjectures arise with startling quickness. Celebrity activists and NGO luminaries are designated and in due time discredited, as battles over scarce seats at the table carry on when the mass mobilizations begin to recede. The cycles of co-optation and repression can move many of us to cynicism, but neither has proved capable of exhausting the dynamism of the grassroots. For every Teach for America operation, there’s a Twin Cities’ riot.

With equal difficulty, we have had to confront the incredible political diversity of this moment, which has included everyone from the Nation of Islam, nonprofit executives, and unaffiliated liberals, to afropessimists, oath keepers, and yes, revolutionary communists. And while the political composition of many participants stretches across those camps, it is hard not to sense that the movement is entering a new juncture in which the lines of demarcation are being drawn a little more clearly. With each day the gap between those who frequent the executive offices of Silicon Valley, and those who maintain fealty to the black radical tradition, grows.

The eleven groups featured below constitute part of what may be an emerging radical pole in the struggle for black liberation. Even in their analytical divergence and organizational heterogeneity, they yield the outlines of a revolutionary unity, opposed to separatism, whose ambitions exceed that of the misleadership both new and old.

We hope that this roundtable on “Strategy after Ferguson” is an opening to further dialogue and debate. We welcome your ideas, feedback, critiques, as well as your support in sharing this resource – with friends and comrades, in workplaces and organizing meetings, at rallies and direct actions, and beyond. To get involved, please email us at roundtables AT viewpointmag DOT com.

- Ben Mabie