Ramona Africa Speech at Kent State
Ramona Africa Speech at Kent State
May 4, 2000
Ona MOVE!I want to start out by paying tribute to those who were murdered and hurt on May 4 of 1970.
Traditionally people ask for a moment of silence. That is fine if that works for you . But , as a MOVE member, I think we've been silent too long. We can't afford to be silent. So, instead of a moment of silence. I ask people to make some noise. You know. That's right! [Crowd cheers.] That's right! We can't afford, we cannot afford to be silent..ever.
Now , as was said in the introduction, I am the only adult survivor of the May 13, 1985 police bombing of my family. Five babies and six adults were burnt alive and shot. So when we talk about what happened here at Kent State thirty years ago, what happened at Jackson State, we must also talk about what happened in Philadelphia, what happened at Wounded Knee. what's happening out there in Arizona where Roberta Blackgoat and those grandmothers are standing strong. We must also talk about what's happening in Viequies where the United States in its arrogance, not only took over that island and uses it for bombing target practices, but has the audacity to rent it out to other countries to use. We must talk about out brother, Mumia Abu-Jamal who sits on death row. Not because he is guilty of any crime, but because he dared to speak out and expose the lies, the oppression. the treachery of this system that we're living under.
I am saying that we must stand up and let our voices be heard. We cannot afford to sit back and allow another Kent State to happen, another Jackson State to happen. We cannot afford to have another Amado DiAblo to be shot at 41 times, nineteen of those bullets finding their mark, some of those bullets coming up through the man's feet, indicating that he was not only shot down, but that the police continued to shoot after he had been shot down.
Well. [when] we talk about the legacy of violence and terrorism in this country, it should be no mystery to us. You can only be what you are. This country was founded, was born of violence, rape, robbery, the massacre of the indigenous people of this country. And nothing has changed since that time. The methods have just become more sophisticated, more treacherous.
And I am saying we can talk about what has happened, what these officials, cops, judges, politicians, prosecuting attorneys, what all of these people have done and are doing. But I prefer to use my energy to talk about what we need, need to do to stop . That's the interest here. We, the people. have the power.
We were talking about the war in Kosovo, you know. Earlier I was talking about Iraq and this country's vendettas against Saddam Hussein. But, the point is, Bill Clinton has no power.That man can sit in that, in that Oval Office and declare was on Saddam Hussein all he wants to. But is he talking about getting out on the field and duking it out with Saddam? No! He is planning, banking on us, on the people, fighting that war for him.
So, who has the power? Bill Clinton? Or the people? If we choose not to be part of that then there is no war, there is no war. And the same applies here domestically. We have he power and the responsibility to determine, to determine what happens here in this country and around the world. We get small glimpses of it every now and then.
In the case of Mumia, the government is determined to kill him. But the people have consistently risen up and said no! And they have had to back off of Mumia twice, twice. They still want to kill him, but we have the power to stop them. We have the power. We have to use it.
The thing is, right here at Kent State, thirty years ago, people were attacked by the National Guard. Four people were shot down, nine others injured. And I think that Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, William Schroeder, and Allison Krause would agree with me when I say that empty words are not enough to pay homage to them. We must pay homage to these victims of state sponsored terrorism through our action, through jour dedication and our commitment to stop the system that caused their deaths, that caused injury.
It has been thirty years but nothing has changed. We have to fight that much harder. We have to be that much more serious. We have to come at these people as hard as we possibly can to stop their terrorism. Right now things are not getting better for people. They're getting worse. Cops feel like they have a license to shoot people down in the street, beat people down in the street, to lock people up at will despite their innocence. And I'm saying we have to stop that. We, as a people coming together. Not just Black people, not just poor whites, not just indigenous people or Latinos, Spanish people in this country, but all of us. Because the one thing that those running this country fear the most is unit, is the people coming together realizing who the real enemy is.
We are not each other's enemy. We have to be clear on who the real enemy is and come together, work together. We cannot afford to have the mentality of "I can't work with that person because they did this 20 years ago." We don't have the time for that. We can't afford that . We all have to come together, work together, to end this insanity.
If we don't...if we don't, we are all doomed. There will be many more Kent States, Jackson States, Mumias, MOVE bombings, Amado Diablos, Vieques, you know, Big Mountains. How dare, how dare the people running this country fix their mouth to call Leonard Peltier, a native of this country, a murdered. How dare they! How dare they! I'm saying...we are all clear on who the real murderer is.
Why is it that those who shot down Jeffrey, Sandra, William, and Allison are not sitting in prison doing quadruple life sentences? How is it? How is it that this country can thirst for the blood of Mumia Abu-Jamal and call him a murdered while the same government say back and made sure that none of those responsible for bombing my family and burning babies alive is sitting on death row next to Mumia?
This hypocrisy has to stop but it will only stop when we stop it. These people running this system are out of control and it is up to us to bring things back into control. back into focus. It is the only way it's going to happen. And what these people are banking on is that all we will do is come out. They don't care if you have a demonstration with ten million people for one day or two days. They don't care about that. We have to set an example every day, every day, anytime this system comes at us by shooting an innocent person down, putting an innocent person in jail, anytime we see injustice, terrorism, treachery, we must rise up against it, We must!. We have to send a strong, clear message, clear message to those running the system, that their reign of terror is over, that the people are awake. We're on our feet, we have stretched and yawned the sleep out and we are ready to deal with them.
And understand. We are not talking about war. We are talking about peace. We are talking about peace. We are not the war mongers and we are sick and tired of those in authority declaring war on the people, killing the people, shooting people down and then, when people rise up in defense of ourselves, we're called violent, we're called criminals.
It don't work that way. You are not violent when you defend yourself. You are violent if you don't defend yourself because then you are encouraging and endorsing violence. MOVE, the disciples of John Africa, are determined to put an end to violence. All of it! All of it!. Across the board. We're not suckered in by official campaigns to have people turn their guns in and to say we need to have gun control. They ain't talking about controlling the guns of those cops and we're not talking about people going out and shooting cops or shooting anybody else. We're saying we are for true gun control. Get rid of all of it. Shut down Smith and Wesson . Shut down Colt. If you are truly for gun control. get rid of all of them. all of them.
I 'm not going to drag this out because there's no need for a lot of talk. What we need is action. What we need is a serious, concerted, unified effort to put an end to the insanity that we see going on around us, here at Kent State, Jackson State. I mean all across this country. Anytime you have six year old babies taking automatic weapons to school, shooting other six year old babies, that ought to tell us clearly that something is wrong here and we better make it right. We better make it right.
No six year old child just picks up a gun, takes it to school and shoots somebody else. Where are they getting that influence from? Where are they getting it from? From everything they see around them, from TV, from videos, from magazines, from movies, from cops, from officials, from politicians. We have to take a stand. We have to do something about this. I'm not saying that it's easy. It's not something that's going to happen in a year, five years, ten years or even thirty years. We don't know how long it's going to take. But time ain't an issue here. Our safety, out peace, the future of our babies is what's the priority here, not time.
Anytime I can be a member of the MOVE organization, being bombed, almost burnt alive, be put in jail and be offered a way out if I compromised and give into this system. And I can take a strong stand. I know, I am no different from any of you. Each and every one of you can do what ever it is your are capable of doing to put an end to this. That's all you're being told. Nobody is telling you to take a front line stand, to go to jail, to start a confrontation. Nobody is telling you that.What I'm telling you is to do what ever it is that you can do. If you are doing that, no more is being asked of you. But, if you're not dong that, then we are demanding, those who have been out there on the front line, who have been doing this work for years, standing up for what is right, [we] are demanding that you do what ever it is that you can do. We can't do your work for you. We cannot do your work for you. We can do our work, set a strong example, do what we can do, but we can't do your work for you. You've got to do that yourself, got to do that yourself and that's all we're asking for you to do, demanding of you to do because that is the only way we're going to get what we're looking for.
And we're all looking for the same thing. I don't care if you're rich, poor, black, white, whatever. We are all looking for the same thing, happiness, peace, satisfaction. That's what everybody is looking for. I don't care what form you think it comes in. You're only going to find it in one way, through freedom. And freedom only comes with freeing ourselves from this rotten, corrupt, treacherous system that we are living under. That's the only way.
I am honored to be here today. Whenever I go around speaking across the country and even outside the country, I never ever fail to mention Kent State. I never fail to do that. It is always in the forefront of our mind and I am truly happy to see that even thirty years later that people here at Kent State, the May 4 Task Force and everybody else involved in putting on these programs refuse, refuse to let people forget what happened here. That is what the MOVE family does. We don't ever let people forget the bombing and murder of our family. We can never let people forget it. So. Stay strong. Make a commitment here that everyday that you live, that you are going to do something, not for Ramona, not even for Jeffrey or Sandra of William or Allison, but for yourself. This is about you. This is personal and you should take it personal because you are William. You are Allison. You are Sandra.
You know, when those young people woke up that morning , they had no idea that it was going to be their last day on this level of life. So don't take it for granted. Don't take it for granted. Don't put off things you need to be doing to make things right. Don't feel like you're going to do it tomorrow or next week. There is no such thing as tomorrow. There is only today. Tomorrow doesn't exist. It is a figment of your imagination.
So everybody. Make up your mind that you are going to be involved in the fight for justice, for your freedom. You are going to be involved in putting things right and putting an end to the treachery that we see in this world every day. It has to be important to us. It has to be a priority to us. Nothing is more important than that. What is a grade, a job, a piece of paper with dead man's picture on it, a car, a certain type of home? That is more important than your freedom? That is more important than justice?
We have to set our priorities and get them straight.That's all that needs to be done for people to feel compelled to get involved in this fight. And don't ever, don't ever allow your oppressor, your enemy, to call you criminal or define you as criminal for standing up for yourself, for refusing to take this injustice.
In the Declaration of Independence, which is supposed to be one of the foundations of legal law in this country, it says that a long train of abuses reduce people under absolute despotism, that is is not only our right, but our duty, to confront that government and, if necessary, abolish it and provide new safeguards for our security and safety.
Now. Ramona isn't saying that. The Declaration of Independence is saying that. So how can you be criminal for doing what the Declaration of Independence tells you it's right and, furthermore, your duty to do? How can you e a criminal for doing that? It's impossible. Stop letting those people play games with you. Don't ever hallucinate that your enemy is going to define the way for you to stop them from oppressing you, terrorizing you. Did Jews rely on Hitler to tell them how to stop him> No! No! Did the indigenous people of this country rely on their enemy to tell them how to stop them from oppressing them and massacring them? No!. So why in the world would we today, in the year 2000, think that our oppressor is going to map out for us, through legislation and legal laws, the way for us to stop them from terrorizing us? Stop their reign of terror? They're not going to do it!
Now, when legality conforms with what is right in putting things right, there is no problem at all. But when legality conflicts with what is right, then we say the hell with legality and we go for what's right every time. Legal is not synonymous with right. Wasn't slavery legal? Wasn't the holocaust legal? Wasn't the racist Apartheid government of South Africa legal? But none of these things was right. Resisting these things were illegal, a crime. But were they wrong? No! No! So don't rely on you oppressor, your enemy to define your resistance for you. Do what you got to do. Do what you feel compelled to But dam it. Do something! Do something!
I bring you a warm embrace and a strong revolutionary salute from my MOVE family and from my brother Mumia Abu-Jamal who knows I was going to be here today when his statement was going to be played. As I said, I'm not going to drag this out. What we have to do is very clear. All we have got to do is do it. Nike has a saying that they use to sell sneakers, "Just do it!" Well, that's what we have to do, "Just do it!" Get involved. Get involved in this work and just do it! Just do it!
In closing, I would like to say long live William, Sandra, Allison, Jeffrey. Long live the nine students who were injured. Long live the MOVE 9. Long live Mumia, Leonard Peltier. Long live Roberta Blackgoat and those grandmothers at Big Mountain. Long live those demonstrators and resisters out there at Vieques. Long live the Zapatistas! Long live...That's right..Long live the spirit of resistance, the spirit of Jackson State and Kent State. Long live all freedom fighters, all those who fight for freedom. Long live revolution and down with this rotten ass system! Thank you. Thank you.
Before I go I just want to say we do have a situation with the MOVE organization concerning one of our children and the government's attempt to take away one of our children and we have a legal campaign going for that. Anybody who would like more information about that. please stop over at out table and I will fill you in on that. But I don't want to do that now. This is not the place for it. But, thank you , thank you all. Stay strong. Free all freedom fighters. And don't ever let people forget Kent State and Jackson State or MOVE.
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